Your Brain On Compassion
Even if altruism is in some way hard-wired in the brain, that doesn't mean it's always easy for us to exercise compassion in our daily lives. Scientists are showing that through a systematic training of the mind, we can boost our capacity for empathy and compassionate behavior -- and by extension, our own happiness and mental well-being.
Ricard tends to laugh off the infamous title he earned several years ago in a neuroscience study: the "happiest man in the world." It's not completely off-base, though. When University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson hooked up EEG sensors to Ricard's brain while the monk meditated on "unconditional loving-kindness and compassion," he recorded levels of gamma waves (which may be associated with compassion and calm attention) "never before reported in the neuroscience literature."