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Your Brain Works At Its Best When You Make This Shift, A Neuroscientist Says

Hannah Frye
Author:
May 16, 2024
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
By Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor

Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.

Woman Working at her laptop with ear buds in
Image by Caleb Gaskins / Stocksy
May 16, 2024

You probably think about the products and the achievements you want on a daily basis (we all do)—but do you ask yourself why you want them?

According to neuroscientist, Stanford professor, and compassion researcher James Doty, M.D., this is an essential step in manifesting your desires that far too many people skip.

As he explained on a recent episode of the mindbodygreen podcast, there is a way to prime your brain for optimal manifestation, and it's all about mindset. Below, his suggestion. 

How to shift your focus from hedonic happiness to eudaemonic happiness

The key is to focus on eudaemonic happiness rather than hedonic happiness. If you're not familiar with these terms, here's a brief refresher: Hedonic happiness focuses on pleasure and enjoyment, while eudaemonic happiness focuses on meaning and purpose. 

Of course, there's nothing wrong with hedonic happiness (we all want to find pleasure in our lives, after all), but Doty suggests that when manifesting, you'd benefit from putting meaning and purpose at the forefront. 

He uses the example of a new house to illustrate what this looks like in practice. "If you sit there and say, 'I want to live in this house because it's bigger than everyone else's house, everyone will look at me and believe I am a success and that will show everyone that I'm worthy because I have this,' that's the wrong approach." 

Instead, "If you sit there and say, 'I need a home so that I can have experiences with those I love, it is a place of warmth, it is an inviting place, it is a place where people can be comfortable and be themselves,'" that's how you'll get closer to achieving your manifestations, he says. 

Doty highlights the Blue Zones as a compelling illustration of this transformative shift in action, yielding positive outcomes. Within these enclaves of extended longevity, cultural values emphasize eudaemonic happiness1, characterized by a sense of purpose and a strong emphasis on fostering community, connections, and meaningful relationships.

Unlike pursuits of fleeting happiness or immediate gratification, these priorities, according to Blue Zone researchers, are instrumental in promoting longevity and overall well-being.

Doty also mentions the Harvard Adult Development Study, spanning over 85 years. The findings unveiled that the happiest participants were not sustained by wealth, luxury goods, or possessions but by the profound and intimate relationships they cultivated.

Moreover, MRI scans have demonstrated that mental exercises such as meditation can substantially modify brain structure2, fostering greater emotional resilience in the face of adversity.

This practice neither demands nor yields material benefits but instead contributes to those "softer" emotional needs like meaning and purpose at the core of eudaemonic happiness.

Making this shift can be paramount for your well-being. "That's how our brain works at its best," Doty says about this shift toward deeper fulfillment. "That is how you are able to maximally manifest your intentions when you are in that mode."

The takeaway

Doty recommends shifting your manifestation mindset from attaining material items to emphasizing the underlying meaning behind your desires.

If you focus on purpose and meaning, you may just strike gold with joy that lasts. Want even more manifestation tips? Tune into the latest mindbodygreen podcast episode.

Want the latest and greatest from leading well-being experts? Subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

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