Western neuroscience has now confirmed what Eastern wisdom has known for a long time: happiness is a skill we can learn.
Research shows that happiness, compassion and kindness are the products of skills that can be learned and enhanced through training, thanks to the neuroplasticity of our brains.
Happiness is not set in stone
Although our genes influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (like income and environment) affect only about 10%. As much as 40% is accounted for by our daily activities and the conscious choices we make. So the good news is that our actions really can make a difference.
Happiness is contagious
Our happiness influences the people we know and the people they know.
Research shows that the happiness of a close contact increases the chance of being happy by 15%. The happiness of a 2nd-degree contact (e.g. friend's spouse) increases it by 10% and the happiness of a 3rd-degree contact (e.g. friend of a friend of a friend) by 6%.
Mindfulness changes your brain
Recent research has shown that an 8 week mindfulness meditation class can lead to structural brain changes including increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
(extracted from www.actionforhappiness.org)