Introduction

I Hate Happiness

I Hate Happiness

Hi! I’m Bruce Cantwell and I hate happiness.

I’m all in favor of love, joy, contentment, cheerfulness, satisfaction, well-being, resilience, and inner peace: all the things we associate with happiness.

But, the root word of happy (hap) means luck, and the idea that happiness is dependent on things being a certain way runs so deep in our culture that I spent more than half my life thinking I would be happy if only…

Happily, advances in neuroscience now confirm that all of the qualities of “lasting happiness” are learned skills that can be cultivated through practice. And, since none of us has a one-size-fits-all answer to what lasting well-being even means, the best way forward is to pool our insights and practice them together!

Because a lifetime of joy, contentment, cheerfulness, satisfaction, well-being, resilience, and inner peace is too valuable to leave to chance.

Objectives:

Help identify and uproot well-being challenges.

Help increase the ability to:

• Be well in body, thoughts, and feelings

• Face and cope with the life’s inevitable stresses

• Work productively to benefit themselves and others

• Make a contribution to their community.

About Bruce Cantwell

Toward the end of the last economic downturn, I got the news that millions of people before me had received. I was let go.

I was barely scraping by on the last vestiges of my educational and vocational experience: advertising/journalism. One of the world’s largest information services decided to eliminate their North American freelance staff and outsource the work to India.

I was old. I was obsolete. I had a history of depression. And since I worked in journalism, I knew the story of what people in my position did next. They lost hope, turned to opiates, and killed themselves.

But, oddly enough, I wasn’t depressed.

My curiosity led me to ask, “Why not?”

The one word answer I came up with was this:

Neuroplasticity.

It took 21st century neuroimaging to confirm what the unaccredited father of neuroscience hypothesized over 2500 years ago.

“Whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of the mind.”

I concluded that my meditation practice had reconfigured my brain to conform with the World Health Organization’s definition of mental health: “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

My potential: to offer depression sufferers time-tested and scientifically validated techniques to permanently increase their resilience.

Coping with the normal stress of life: I sometimes describe my daily mindfulness practice as a shock absorber for what life throws at me.

Working productively and fruitfully: the current neuroscience suggests that 10 minutes a day is roughly the minimum effective dose to habituate the benefits of these exercises.

Make a contribution to my community: putting in the effort to maintain a healthy mind and showing others how to do the same is the best way I know to contribute to my community.