Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • For the last quarter-century,

  • as a physician and a neurosurgeon,

  • my goal has been to prevent death.

  • But, I will tell you

  • that some of the most profound experiences

  • as a human being that I have had

  • is being with people

  • who have truly lived, but are dying.

  • For the last decade, as a neuroscientist,

  • my goal has been to understand

  • what it is that stops people from living.

  • I'm not talking about showing up.

  • I'm not talking about mindlessly going to work every day.

  • You know, somebody sent me a definition of life,

  • and it said:

  • "Life is a sexually transmitted disease that ends in death."

  • (Laughter)

  • The life I'm talking about, though, is a little bit different.

  • The life I'm talking about, though,

  • is a life of meaning, purpose, connection,

  • and ultimately, contentment and happiness.

  • What's interesting, though,

  • is that in the United States -

  • one of, if not, the most affluent countries in the world,

  • where we consume 25% of the world's resources,

  • where theoretically we have everything,

  • why is it that we have an epidemic

  • of stress, anxiety, isolation,

  • loneliness, and depression?

  • What's amazing is people come here

  • somehow thinking that it will be better,

  • and oftentimes it is not at all; it is only worse.

  • It's interesting;

  • 25% percent of people when asked,

  • will say to you

  • that when they are suffering,

  • when they are in pain,

  • they do not feel that they have a single person who they can go to.

  • It's horribly sad, but why is that?

  • I had a cartoon.

  • Do any of you know Snoopy?

  • I had a cartoon that showed Snoopy on his doghouse.

  • It's interesting, I am a familiar with the dog house,

  • but oftentimes I had been in the doghouse.

  • (Laughing)

  • But in this case, Snoopy is sitting on top of the doghouse,

  • and he's thinking, "Where am I going?

  • What am I doing? What's the meaning of life?"

  • And today I would like to share with you

  • why I believe, over the last ten years, and have learned,

  • what it is that causes pain to so many of us.

  • And also - in the context of what this meeting is about -

  • of what is next.

  • And what is next

  • is neuro-hacking your brain for transcendence.

  • Or, hacking your brain for happiness.

  • How do we do that?

  • First of all, let me explain how we got into this position as humans.

  • I'm not sure if you realize,

  • our DNA has not changed for the last 200,000 years.

  • So we are the same as we were then

  • in this modern world of science and technology,

  • which has evolved far faster than our evolution.

  • As a result, we have evolutionary baggage,

  • which stands in the way, oftentimes, of us being happy.

  • The sad thing also is that we have a health care system

  • that is not oriented towards wellness;

  • it is oriented towards illness.

  • (Applause)

  • So what happens to that group of people

  • who feel stressed, anxious, depressed, isolated, alone?

  • What is it that they're given?

  • Drugs.

  • Do any of you know Hunter S. Thompson?

  • Obviously, a lot of you take drugs here.

  • Some guys, yeah, yeah!

  • (Laughing)

  • Hunter S. Thompson said,

  • "I don't advocate the use of drugs and alcohol, but it works for me."

  • (Laughter)

  • But unfortunately, for the large group of people

  • who are prescribed these medications, and remember,

  • it's 20% of the adult population,

  • If you include the excessive use of alcohol,

  • and some of you may be experiencing that already,

  • it actually increases to over 50%.

  • And what have we gotten from that?

  • We have not fundamentally solved the problem.

  • And why?

  • Here is where it gets interesting.

  • As a species,

  • to have something called "Theory of mind",

  • to have complex language,

  • to have abstract thinking,

  • has come at a cost.

  • The cost is that unlike other species,

  • our offspring require us to care for them

  • for a decade and a half, or two decades.

  • In my case apparently three decades.

  • But, the attribute that makes us

  • want to expend those resources and energy

  • to raise our young

  • is because we are hardwired to care.

  • We are hardwired to recognize

  • the suffering of another

  • - especially our offspring -

  • and alleviate that suffering.

  • This is where you hear of the term "oxytocin",

  • which is one of the neurotransmitters associated with affiliative behavior

  • - nurturing and caring -

  • dopamine and other neurotransmitters.

  • The problem is,

  • although this is our default mode,

  • we have evolutionary baggage that oftentimes interferes

  • with us being our true selves and having connection.

  • The baggage

  • is related to a primitive part of our nervous system,

  • which many of you know is called the "flight, fight, or freeze" response.

  • When an individual is anxious,

  • when an individual is put in an environment

  • that exceeds his ability to process,

  • put them in an environment that is far, far different

  • than how we evolved as a species on the Savanna in Africa,

  • what happens is

  • this autonomic nervous system

  • switches over from one of, if you will, affiliative behavior

  • - caring, nurturing, calmness -

  • which is called our parasympathetic nervous system,

  • to decrease the tone of a nerve called the vagus nerve,

  • and actually stimulate the sympathetic nervous system.

  • When the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated, what happens?

  • You get afraid;

  • your heart rate increases;

  • your pulse increases

  • - those are the same thing. I'm a doctor, I should know this -

  • your blood pressure increases;

  • actually your immune system is depressed;

  • and hormones associated with stress are released

  • and often released on a chronic basis.

  • This is far different from what the system was made for on the Savanna in Africa,

  • where if you saw a lion, the system would kick in,

  • all of those things would happen,

  • you would run to the tree,

  • and either you would crawl up the tree or you wouldn't.

  • (Laughing)

  • But what is the effect

  • of this type of chronic engagement of the sympathetic nervous system?

  • It is one where people feel anxious, afraid, they withdraw,

  • they pull into themselves, they don't communicate as effectively,

  • it actually affects their work:

  • they're not as creative;

  • they're not as productive.

  • So what is the solution?

  • It certainly, today,

  • has not been science and technology, has it?

  • We expend more on health care,

  • have the most sophisticated technology in the world,

  • yet we have this epidemic of stress, anxiety, depression;

  • we have the highest cost of healthcare;

  • the most dissatisfied patients in the world;

  • and we fall in the lowest quadrant of any industrialised country,

  • in terms of measures of efficacy or cost effectiveness.

  • But there is a solution.

  • Interestingly,

  • what I have spent a lot of time doing, and a lot of my colleagues have,

  • is trying to understand the system.

  • And instead of having it hijacked, if you will,

  • which has a profound effect on long-term mental and physical health,

  • and in fact a significant effect on longevity,

  • is to hijack it in the other direction.

  • I will tell you though, it's not a pill.

  • So that's a good thing.

  • What we have learned over the last decade or so,

  • is that we can actually potentiate

  • our ability to be compassionate,

  • to care for others, and when we do so,

  • it has a profound effect on our own health.

  • In fact, the Dalai Lama, - have any of you heard of him? -

  • the Dalai Lama has said,

  • "Being compassionate is one of the only times

  • when it's okay to be selfish."

  • Studies have now shown

  • that when you are compassionate,

  • when you recognize the suffering of another, engage another,

  • it has a profound effect on your blood pressure, your heart rate,

  • it boosts your immune system,

  • and decreases those stress hormone levels

  • down to baseline.

  • And you have a sense of calmness,

  • your frontal executive control areas work better,

  • which are associated with decision-making, productivity, and creativity.

  • How do you switch the tide, if you will, or turn the switch,

  • where this system is not a detriment

  • to you living your life with full potential

  • and being connected with another

  • and receiving the full physiologic benefits?

  • It has to do with the following:

  • I put it in the context of the pharmaceutical industry.

  • If I told you that I had a pill

  • that was organic,

  • readily available ingredients,

  • zero side effects,

  • and had this profound effect on your physiology

  • where you worked at your best,

  • and it allowed you to have purpose, clarity of mind, contentment, happiness?

  • How much would that pill be worth?

  • A lot.

  • But what if I told you that exists already and can work with many people?

  • But the only thing that is required is that after you take the pill,

  • you sit in silence for 15 minutes and slowly breathe in and out,

  • and focus your intention on being compassionate.

  • When you do that,

  • you will realize, you no longer need the pill.

  • That is in fact all it takes.

  • We and others have created techniques

  • that give you the tools to hack your brain

  • for happiness, and what I call transcendence.

  • And by doing so, what this will do

  • is that when you are at the end of your days,

  • you will know that you have truly lived.

  • Thank you.

For the last quarter-century,

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 US system nervous system pill nervous compassionate oftentimes

【TEDx】Hacking your brain for happiness | James Doty | TEDxSacramento

  • 1340 86
    Yuki ZH posted on 2017/05/03
Video vocabulary