I recently received a newsletter titled "Be Happy" from the Kalani Oceanside Retreat in Hawaii that contained a real gem of wisdom:
"To find true and lasting happiness is the most common life-long goal of people across the globe.
What is the source of this desirable state?
Deepak Chopra states that there are two types of happiness. The first type is a feeling that arises when some external circumstance or event happens in our favor. A great example of this is the feeling of happiness one would experience when winning the lottery. Although the associated feelings are elation and contentment, it is generally a short-lived experience.
The second type of happiness does not rely on external circumstance to cue its existence, but rather, resides in the silence of our being. This type of happiness is what can be considered true happiness, and holds a permanent presence within us all, regardless of our emotional and mental state.
It has been known by prophets, mystics, yogis, and shamans across the ages that true happiness is not found in the outside world, but to be discovered within.
By quieting the mind and becoming familiar and comfortable with our inner landscape, we can drop into the experience of simply being, thereby allowing the experience of true happiness to emerge.
May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy."
How can those of us who have chosen a busier, less monastic life access that inner feeling of happiness and build it rapidly and effectively? How can we find and maintain that inner shift which activates the dopamine-based happiness system within the brain-mind? Its more than "simply being" that allows us to keep the happiness system activated. After a moment of happiness emerges, there is guidance from within that is necessary in order to learn to recognize it and hold it there, at a higher level of activation.
At first, you need to make an effort to notice the feeling and then hold it there. That's where our Neureka! neurofeedback has great value--helping you notice and sustain it at first, so that you can gradually learn to make that shift more clearly and powerfully, as part of your everyday life. Your happiness builds as you practice, first with the full Peak BrainHappiness Trainer program and then with lower levels of support. Later, you can use a timer included in our system to remind you to come back to the joyful state, finding it from within.
As a follower of the Positive Psychology Listserve, who has studied under Dr. Seligman, I have recently been reminded about what it is that they offer as the centerpiece of their practice and research. This approach is basically inducing Deepak Chopra's first type of happiness, based on circumstances or events created by the particular Positive Psychology Exercise. It is fleeting and weak. Little wonder that the effects of these exercises have proven difficult to replicate in research studies. The effect sizes are small, and procedures that also induce momentary positive feelings seem to be as powerful.
Our Approach to the Best Type of Happiness
Now you can use a simple, scientifically proven approach to increase anyone's happiness, by training their brain with brainwave biofeedback using the Peak BrainHappiness Trainer .
It's as simple as sitting in front of a computer for twelve 25-minute sessions--just five hours-- watching beautiful videos. You pick your own DVDs or select from five joyful DVDs and CDs that come with the system.
Research shows when you feel good feelings, such as happiness and love, the brain produces more of a type of brainwave we call Neureka! This corresponds to the emergence of the feeling of happiness. New studies (see below) show people can easily learn to increase the amount of that type of brainwave. The Trainer processes the brainwave signal, and measures the amount of Neureka! The more Neureka! brainwaves you produce, the more good feelings, like joy, satisfaction, and gratitude, you feel, and the larger the beautiful video's picture gets.
After you develop an understanding of how to create the shift to the feeling of happiness, we suggest that you eliminate the audiovisual stimuli and just guide yourself with the feedback from the increasing and decreasing Neureka! brainwaves. You will discover that you still have control over your inner experience and the resulting brainwaves.
Later, you can help to transfer this control to the rest of your life by carrying a timer that you set to vibrate at a comfortable interval, reminding you to turn on your happiness system every few minutes. After some time training, you won't need any of these aids to be happier, but they will still help if you want to go further.
If you know someone who could really enjoy life more, but who doesn't seem to have a really positive attitude, the Peak BrainHappiness Trainer will make a major difference in their life.
Everyone in the family can use and appreciate the effects of a gift like this on themselves, and the others will appreciate how much more loving and happy they will become.
Neureka! Clearly Measures Positive Feelings
Dr. Estate Sokhadze and I have recently completed two studies which he conducted at the University of Louisville Department of Psychiatry. We found quite a bit of evidence to support the idea that Neureka! can respond to positive feelings like joy, pleasure, delight, happiness and love.
The Neureka! output became larger when the subjects felt positive feelings for as little as 6 seconds. It did not go up when they felt the negative or the neutral feelings used in the study.
For details on these experiments, visit this page.
University Study Shows That Peak BrainHappiness Training Enhances Mood, Thinking, and Memory
The benefits of Peak BrainHappiness Training in Dr. Sokhadze's next study were even more powerful than I anticipated. He trained 11 subjects for 12 sessions of neurovideofeedback, each 25 minutes long--that's just five hours of total training.
The results showed that after training, the subjects reported they were much happier, and they scored much better on the Beck Depression Inventory . The happiness measure that we used was the same as the one used by the Australian Household Income and Labor Dynamics Survey reported in the article by Siahpush and associates that I summarized in a previous newsletter. They showed that a higher happiness score in 2001 predicted a 50% improvement in health in 2004. This study supports the idea that Peak BrainHappiness Training can increase your long-term health .
Furthermore, the results on the MicroCog test of mental ability were quite remarkable. It showed very significant enhancements in general cognitive functioning, information processing accuracy, and memory.
Basically, people became happier, smarter and less depressed after training their brain with the Peak BrainHappiness Trainer!
For all of the details and numbers, please visit this page.
Improved Happiness is Long Lasting
The key point to remember is that the improvements in happiness are long-lasting. Four months after the twelve sessions, the group's happiness ratings were still just as high! They had learned to be happy and to maintain it without any further effort. Isn't that what you want and deserve? The technology to achieve this is here now. Why wait?
The Remarkable Kalani Oceanside Resort
Its really not surprising to find such a well written gem in Kalani's Newsletter. Kalani is, after all, a remarkably wonderful growth center--the largest retreat center in Hawaii. They offer a wide variety of programs of their own and host many for other organizations. I visited there several years ago for a very powerful reunion of Gay Luce's Nine Gates Program, which ended with a remarkable night communing with the godess Pele on the floes of the nearby volcano. Perhaps my fondest memory was the Watsu water massage session in their very special pool. Yes, its only Type 1 happiness, but it is a very powerful induction!
For more information about our Peak BrainHappiness Trainer, click here.
As a multidisciplinary researcher not supported by a university or foundation, I have the opportunity to look at this from a more complete perspective, rather than being tied to the discipline I paid my academic dues to. In my lifetime, I have used many different types of research hammers, so I see that there are a wide variety of nails--that is, purported causes of happiness.
To begin to approach this question, you have to refine the time frame. Life is made up of moments, and your happiness during each of them could actually be rated on some scale. Now suppose you average that scale over the next few minutes, few hours, or several days. On a longer scale, you can look at the next few months, or even a lifetime. Each of these measurements of happiness is really somewhat different, so we have to pick one. I think that for most of us, our time horizon focuses on the next few days, perhaps a week at most.
Social and Cultural Influences
To approach this, I reviewed the information from the National Geographic Project on Happiness, and particularly the thoughts of Dan Buettner, the author of "Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way". He researched the causes of happiness in four locations that scored highest in the world--Denmark, Singapore, Mexico, and San Luis Obispo. He found very little in common among the causes in these places, indicating that the effects are rather weak. In an interview, he pointed out the importance of developing a social network for happiness, but noted that the data indicates that having children to create one does not pay off in overall increased happiness for at least the first 18 years. "It's a multivariable equation" --the most important things over all the nations are trust in the legal system (low corruption), tolerance, green spaces, and lack of noise.
Psychobiology is the Most Important Basis
All of these effects, however, are rather weak. They point to the idea that we need to be looking elsewhere for a really powerful explanation. My perspective is that we need to look at biology much more seriously as a cause of happiness, and examine the role and causes of individual psychobiological variability rather than sociocultural factors. In particular, we know that the dopamine system in the brain is a key to the development of pleasure responses. This was first pointed out by James Olds. Kenneth Blum has done an excellent job in framing the "Reward Deficiency Syndrome", implicating low dopamine levels as the cause for drug, food, gambling, and sex addictions. Each of these produce an initial dopaminergic rush, particularly in those who are not genetically prone to being naturally happy.
Sound familiar? We've been talking about the "Prefrontal Pleasure Center", and stating that enhancing the Neureka! rhythm activates it, for quite some time. Our conviction about this increased considerably when Prof. Blum tried out the Peak BrainHappiness Trainer and declared that it measured the effects of dopamine. There is a close link between the dopaminergic Prefrontal Pleasure Center, new learning, and positive feelings that are used to encourage it. The behavioral and experiential ramifications become highly complex as more and more responses are learned and linked to the pleasure circuit. No wonder that a very recent study indicates that as we get older the "set point" of happiness is more affected by environmental effects and less by genetics. This goes along with the viewpoints expressed by Bruce Lipton in his fascinating book "The Biology of Belief". He argues that our experiences, and particularly our beliefs about them, have a strong epigenetic influence on the many ways in which our genetic inheritance is expressed. I agree that these events and thought patterns are important determinants of which genetic tendencies are actually expressed.
As I have recently written to you, there are also very important consequences for health and success that result from activating the Prefrontal Pleasure Center with the Peak BrainHappiness Trainer.
Recent results using the Peak Achievement Trainer to improve a group of 11 ADHD teenagers have reported outstanding results for just 12 sessions of neurofeedback. Tato Sokhadze's data has been published in the AAPB's Biofeedback magazine. This data was also presented at an AAPB meeting and locally here, where it won First Prize in a research contest. So here's a summary of the high points.
There were quite significant improvements in both our Focus and Alertness measurements over the 12 sessions:
Dr. Sokhadze also published the minute-to-minute changes for the 25 minutes of the first and 12th sessions. More recently, further analysis is showing major shifts in alpha to theta and beta to theta ratios, even though these were not being directly trained. I'll share those later.
These EEG changes were accompanied by large and significant improvements in IVA+ scores--25% in Visual, 41% in auditory.
There were also improvements in the Aberrant Behavior Checklist:
* Lethargy/Social Withdrawal score decreased from
10.1(7.4) to 7.0 (6.9), t=2.48, df=10, p=0.021
* Hyperactivity score decreased from
14.3 (14.6) to 12.0 (11.1), t=2.21, p=0.041;
* Inappropriate Speech score decreased from
2.25 (2.4) to 1.3 (1.8) , t=2.96, df=10, p=0.009.
Dr. Sokhadze concluded:
"In my experience, this is areally fast result, because usually more training sessions(>18) are recommended for successful management ofattention symptoms in ADHD. This particular type ofbrainwave neurofeedback can be used both in ADHD andhealthy subjects to improve behavioral performance,focused concentration, and alertness."
This system can be used by both professionals and parents at home. If you're interested in more information about the Peak BrainHappiness Trainer and the three dimensions of mental functioning it trains, click here and explore our website. To submit an inquiry for potential purchase and pricing questions, click this link.
Jonathan D. Cowan, Ph.D., BCN
President and CTO, NeuroTek, LLC.
* Manufacturer of the Peak BrainHappiness Trainer and the Peak Achievement Trainer, called "The Victor Within: The Coach Who Will Put You in the Zone" by the New York Times Magazine's special issue on important new technology, http://www.peakachievement.com/coachwho.htm
* 1103 Hollendale Way, Goshen, KY 40026
* Voice: (502) 228-0605
* Fax: (502) 228-5228
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When I first introduced the Peak Achievement Trainer back in 1998, one of the important parts was a video that explained the Training and how to perform the first session. It was an extremely helpful video, and a pioneering idea. I remember receiving a spontaneous compliment from Dr. Joel Lubar, the original researcher of neurofeedback training for ADHD. I always intended to add to the video library, but due to staffing changes I lost access to our excellent producer. Then we changed equipment and kept developing new protocols, so the original video became largely irrelevant.
Lately, I've decided to go back to the idea of producing a series of video guides for our Peak BrainHappiness Training system, using the Camtasia program to combine video showing the activities of a user and screen capture. I think it will be really helpful for a new market we are now pursuing, wellness and senior centers. I believe all future products for mass markets will need to combine neurofeedback and video training.
Undertaking video production has definitely been a learning process, far more complex than I consciously anticipated. I think my unconscious knew the complexity all too well and has been successfully avoiding the process for years. Perhaps the most difficult part of this for my associate, JD, and I, is putting ourselves back in the heads of a naive user, and figuring out what they need to know, then writing it in the best order. We really want to get it right the first time, because its such a hassle to do it again. What's the best order for sessions and training?
So I'm really open to any suggestions and help from anyone with some time and ideas. If you're interested, I can share our scripts for review.
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