by Carly E
Although correlational studies on happiness and meditation have yielded groundbreaking results, this paper’s main interest is the application of an integrated, east-west approach to the subject. This paper aims to 1) solidify the correlation between meditation and happiness, 2) challenge contemporary notions of happiness and, 3) highlight the importance of constant mindfulness, a state of acute consciousness or awareness. This paper draws evidence from a number of scholarly articles focused on meditation and its neuropsychological benefits, while also employing the work of Lu, Gilmour and Kao’s work on “Cultural Values and Happiness” in a way that enforces eastern notions of happiness. This paper concludes that, although the relationship between happiness and meditation exists on a neuropsychological level, appreciating the correlation in a more conceptual way requires the integration of both east and west values.
Meditation has been utilized in religious contexts for many years, however, regular meditation with no religious ties has also been shown to promote individual happiness and self-fulfillment. This paper will consider happiness and meditation in a way that poses a compromise between east and west views. Within the context of this paper, happiness will be measured as a state of mind, or a higher sense of fulfillment and contentment in one’s life, which is an eastern interpretation of happiness. Contrarily, the concept of meditation will be considered through the modern, non-religious, and emerging western perspective. This approach contrasts the methods of many previous scholars; while most other works have approached the concepts of meditation and happiness in terms of east-east or west-west, I will be focusing on an east-west interpretation. Meditation allows individuals the freedom to explore a higher level of awareness and mindfulness, which helps to facilitate happiness in various aspects of one’s life. Through analysis of prior research and the bringing together of diverse scholars, this paper will examine the relationship between meditation and happiness through a culturally diverse lens, specifically, the altered state of mind that meditation brings about and how that state facilitates happiness. The concept of non-religious meditation is a relatively new phenomenon and, while linking that phenomenon to happiness is an even more revolutionary notion, there are a few cornerstone members leading the topic’s research. Although recent research has touched on aspects of meditation in correlation with happiness, this paper will delve deeper, exploring the very definition of happiness itself and the contexts in which we conceptualize it, as well as analyze the neuropsychological aspect of happiness in terms of meditation. While the health benefits of meditation have long been discovered and documented, its benefit to happiness is an emerging notion, which begs the question of mindfulness and its potential to promote a higher quality of life through increased subjective well being.
Lu, Luo, Robin Gilmour and Shu-Fang Kao. “Cultural Values and Happiness: An East-West Dialogue.” The Journal of Social Psychology. 141.4 (2001): 477-493.