we would like to thank each reader, blogger, etc. who makes AmAre so rewarding! Thanks for all the comments, help, contributed articles, etc. Many things changed on AmAre since we started, we welcome everyone who decided to walk together on this project which bridges Dharma, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, psychology.
We would also like to summarize some of the points which emerged so far. AmAre stands for “being” Aware and Accepting; Meaningful and Motivated; Active and Attentive; Resilient and Respectful; Eating properly and Exercising. Amare is an Italian verb which means “to love”, and in English it stands for interconnectedness: (I)Am (we) are.
AmAre is an approach to Happiness, Meaning, Purpose in Life; and also an outreach channel to share research and experiences about living happily. AmAre comes with no secret shortcuts to success, and is not here to tell us what makes us happy; it is here to facilitare our awareness about living joyfully. In addition to free eBooks what you find on the right side of the page, and many articles that you can read in our Archives, there is a newsletter you can subscribe.
These are some highlights which emerged so far, about well-being and joy:
– being happy is a choice we make right here and now, by living joyfully. It is not a place to reach in the future.
– there are ways we facilitate happiness, they can be summarized with the acronym AmAre.
– there are several “fringe” benefits to living joyfully, for example happier people are more sociable and energetic, more caring and cooperative, better liked by others, more likely to get married and stay married, to have wider social networks and receive support from friends, show more flexibility and creativity in their thinking, are more productive and work, are recognized as better leaders and negotiators, and so earn accordingly. They are more tenacious when times are not pleasant, have stronger immune systems, are healthier both physically and mentally, and live longer.
– being aware of awareness: consciousness matters. Scientific research made giants steps toward a deeper understanding of consciousness. While we do not all need to be experts in neuroscience, an understanding of its discoveries can facilitate our happiness, making us more aware of how our awareness works.
– starting the paradigm shift: degrees of appropriateness. The paradigm shift which starts all the other shifts is the one about how we perceive the context of which we are part. In an analogical world, it was efficient to think digitally. That is, in a world without our current technological know-how, people preferred to reduce accuracy in favour of thinking in terms of right and wrong, discrete values, 0 or 1. In a digital world, it is effective to think analogically. That is, in a world where specialization is wide-spread and processing power easily available, people can improve accuracy and think in terms of degrees of appropriateness, with continuous values. Many debates are floating in the air, including the ones about SWB, where different schools of thought aim to prove they are totally right, and everyone else totally wrong. The paradigm shift is to think inclusively: given one opportunity to analyze, its values may tend towards one direction in a specific context, and towards another direction in another context. By pooling together our experiences and expertise, we can discuss which course of actions are more appropriate, or which outcomes more likely to occur, instead of thinking in terms of right or wrong, 0 or 1.
– We can change: Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis. Science discovered that our brain can be rewired (neuroplasticity). And not only that, new neurons can be generated (neurogenesis). At any age, and in almost every condition. Of course, there are some stages of our lives, and certain conditions, where neuroplasticity and neurogenesis are facilitated more; still, how we think and what we do rewires our brain, and the way our brains are wired influence how we see the world and what we do. We can make this a virtual circle, supporting our growth as individuals and member of society.
– about opportunities, challenges, and problems: everything is as it should be, given the current components of the present context. If we want to change the outcome of the situation, then we need to take action. In the case of opportunities, the upside for us is the most evident. When we see challenges, we are focused on the question marks raised by a situation; still, by taking action, we can overcome them. When we see problems, then the focus is all on the threats; problems cannot be solved with the same mind-set which created them, they demand a brand new approach, otherwise they would not even be problems in the first place
– Dharma meets psychology: Dharma and Western psychology, after a long phase (especially in the case of Dharma psychology) where they were growing indepently from each others, are now already working together for the clients’ benefit. Abhidhamma has been partially integrated into phenomenological psychology. Some Zen practices have been studied and implemented for psycho-therapeutic purposes. Mindfulness has proven its clinical utility. This is not (yet) the case for Madhyamaka, a Buddhist Mahāyāna tradition systematized by Nāgārjuna, which states that all phenomena are empty of “substance” or final “essence”, meaning that they depend ont the causes and conditions from which they arose. Mādhyamaka, with its middle-way approach which stays equally away from materialism and nihilism was too innovative, and maybe not so easy to implement in the West; until positive psychology arrived. A world-view, developed in a particular context, cannot be “localized” with a 100% accuracy for another context, by using an independently developed lexicon etc. At this stage, positive psychology is already helpful, by proving us that “craving for perfection” is not healthy, and that often “good enough” (meaning a working model, thanks to the experience developed in one context, can be leveraged in space and time). Taking it to the next level, positive psychology researchers already proven the need for social support, shared meaningful actions, compassion, etc. Happiness does not happen in a vacuum and, while as individuals we can only change ourselves and then inspire change in the World by example, every positive result in society can last only as a shared meaningful action, and not as the accomplishment of a solitary hero.
These are some just highlights of recurrent themes in our research. As usual, we look forward for readers who want to share their experience of happy and meaninful life. Peace and metta,