While the words “happy” and “cancer” don’t often go together, a local Interactive Television (ITV) presentation will explore ways that patients can learn to increase their happiness.
“The Art of Happiness: Do We Really Have a Happiness Set Point?” is scheduled for 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27 at St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center. The event is free and open to the public in the basement-level St. Dominic Room.
In the past, the consensus was everyone was born with a happiness set point, or it was created during adolescence, said Moira Mulhern, Ph.D. and co-founder of Turning Point.
Research indicated that people go back to their set point after events such as winning the lottery or experiencing a death – any event that causes them to feel better or worse.
“But now there is proof that we can change our happiness set point,” she continued. “We can change set points for anger, sadness, compassion, joy and other emotions through brain training. People have believed this for many years but now we can prove it.”
There are specific brain states that correlate with happiness, Mulhern said, noting these can change as a result of cognitive behavioral therapy and focus.
“Most Westerners have no clue you can sculpt the brain’s emotional circuitry as powerfully as you can sculpt your bicep muscle,” Mulhern commented. “Studies done with monks found that meditation trains happiness and changes the set point.
“We are not stuck with the brains we are born with,” Mulhern added. “We can willfully and directly change our brains. Who we are is our choice and who we become depends on the choices we make.”
The ITV presentation at St. Rose is not only for cancer patients; it is designed for anyone facing a chronic physical illness, as well as their loved ones.
Mulhern’s organization, Turning Point, co-sponsors local ITV sessions in collaboration with the Midwest Cancer Alliance. St. Rose is an MCA member.