Mayo Clinic's 4-step, 10-week prescription for happiness

A physician at Mayo Clinic says he knows how to cultivate happiness.

Amit Sood, MD, a physician at Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic and author of the new book The Mayo Clinic Handbook for Happiness, says humans are hardwired to be unhappy, according to a recent report in the Star Tribune.

Generations of humans worried about survival have made us naturally scan for threats and find fault, according to the report. "I realized this is happening by design of human brain," he told the Star Tribune.

Dr. Sood, who grew up in Bhopal, India, saw poverty and unhappiness up close. Yet when he moved to the U.S., he said he was surprised to see the same level of stress in patients who had a refrigerator full of food, according to the report.

Determined to find out why, he incorporated psychology, spirituality, philosophy and neuroscience into his medical practice and research.

Luckily, Dr. Sood says, happiness can be achieved. Studies show one half of happiness is controlled by genetics, but the other half is controlled by our consciousness, according to the report.

In Dr. Sood’s guidebook to contentment, he outlines the following four-step, 10-week program, as presented by the Star Tribune.

1. Notice the little things. Slow down and allow your attention to rest on fascinating things and people in everyday life. To reintroduce awareness into your life, Dr. Sood recommends thinking of five people you are thankful for as you wake up. Exhale slowly as you picture each person and thank them to yourself, he recommends.

2. Focus on emotional resilience. Dr. Sood says these feelings include gratitude, compassion, acceptance, meaning and forgiveness, according to the report.

3. Take up an activity that engages both your mind and body. These practices may include yoga, meditation, reading or Tai Chi.

4. Be healthy. Eating healthily, regularly exercising and getting enough sleep can work wonders. Dr. Sood also recommends feeding and exercising the mind with a good book and limited screen time.


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