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The Four Constituents of Well-Being

Richard Davidson | 13:38


 So, uh, in the short time that I have with you guys today, I, this is Richie Unplugged. No slides. . I love it. . Uh, I'm going to just say a few words about wellbeing is a skill. That's the title and that's the conclusion. Wellbeing is a skill.  and all of the work that we and other colleagues have been doing leads us inevitably to this central conclusion.

I'd like you to come away with the view that wellbeing is fundamentally no different than learning to play the cello. I'm saying that because of my dear friend Cliff Sarin, who's here in the audience, and uh, uh, it brings wonder. Memories of Barbara, uh, and wellbeing if it's practice. And I love what Scott Crane said in the introduction about practice.

Practice is such a key element here. And, uh, if one practices the skills of wellbeing, one will get better at it. So what do we mean by wellbeing? And this is really what I'd like to focus these remarks on. I'd like to share with you what I consider to be. Neuro scientifically validated constituents of wellbeing.

Each of these four has received serious scientific attention. Each of these four is rooted in neuro circuits that we know something about, and each of these neuro circuits exhibits elasticity. And so we know that if we exercise these circuits, they will strengthen.  and they will provide the substrate for enduring change, which can help to promote higher levels of wellbeing.

So what are these four constituents? The first we call resilience, and we define it in a very specific way. Resilience is the rapidity with which you recover from adversity. Some people recover slow. And other people recover more quickly. And it turns out that we can measure very specific parameters in the brain that relate to the time course of different circuits coming back down to baseline.

And that time course is critical for understanding resilience. And we know that individuals who show a more rapid return to baseline in certain key neural circuit,  have higher levels of wellbeing and are protected in, in many ways from the adverse consequences of life's slings and arrows. So to paraphrase, the bumper sticker stuff happens , uh, and we cannot buffer ourselves from that stuff, but it really is about how we recover.

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