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Dr. Bjorn Grinde ISQOLS Webinar connecting biology and happiness


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Bjørn Grinde, author and researcher, speaks about the links between quality of life, the human brain and intentional communities. During this webinar, he explains what intentional communities are, how he came to research them, and why they are of interest to him for research purposes. He will discuss the trial and joys of conducting research projects with intentional communities, and his findings about quality of life and the human brain, as well as directions for future research.

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Dr. Bjorn Grinde ISQOLS Webinar connecting biology and happiness

  1. 1. Speakers Bjørn Grinde, Ph.D Chief Scientist at Division of Mental and Physical Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health Researcher and Author Laura Musikanski, Executive Director of Happiness Alliance at Jill Johnson, Executive Director of ISQOLS
  2. 2. What do Intentional Communities have to do with Quality-of-Life? A talk connecting the dots between the human brain, happiness, and how we choose to live together. Bjørn Grinde
  3. 3. Human behavioral biologyHuman behavioral biology What is happiness? How do we find it? More:
  4. 4. Nothing makes sense exept in theNothing makes sense exept in the light of evolutionlight of evolution
  5. 5. Who can be happy?Who can be happy?
  6. 6. Why nervous systems?Why nervous systems? Direct behaviour Behaviour means movement
  7. 7. Why move?Why move? Away from what is bad – toward what is good for genes
  8. 8. Feelings – a strategy for makingFeelings – a strategy for making behavioral decissionsbehavioral decissions • Punishment and reward – away from or toward • Our prospect for happiness an accidental by-product BadBad
  9. 9. When did feelings evolve?When did feelings evolve?
  10. 10. The brain consists of functions formed byThe brain consists of functions formed by evolution – like apps on a smartphoneevolution – like apps on a smartphone The «main switches» for good and bad feelings are controlled unconsciously
  11. 11. Mood ~ well-being ~Mood ~ well-being ~ happinesshappiness A question of net activity in mood apps: Rewards minus punishments
  12. 12. Default state of contentmentDefault state of contentment • If … o primary needs are covered, no physical pain • Then … o the brain is designed to be in a good mood That is, reward apps normally dominate
  13. 13. The problem is hyperactiveThe problem is hyperactive punishment appspunishment apps Normal function: Hyperactivity: oPain chronic pain oFear anxiety oLow mood depression
  14. 14. EvolutionEvolution Cultural adaptationCultural adaptation Version: 1.0 2.0 3.0 The age of the human zoo
  15. 15. Experimenting on humans?Experimenting on humans? Project:Project: Intentional Communities as a natural experimentIntentional Communities as a natural experiment
  16. 16. Muscles and brain modules expandMuscles and brain modules expand upon useupon use • How to excercise good mood apps • How to avoid excercising bad mood apps Does life in intentional communities help? ⇒
  17. 17. When we depart from a natural way of life:When we depart from a natural way of life: Unfortunate mismatches are referred to as discords
  18. 18. NearsightednessNearsightedness (80 % in Singapore, 1 % farmers in Nepal) Possible discords: Too much focus on close range? Light on at night? Not spending time outside?
  19. 19. What are the discordsWhat are the discords causing mental problems?causing mental problems? Social structure?Social structure? The achilles heel ofThe achilles heel of society?society?
  20. 20. Intentional CommunitiesIntentional Communities • More like how humans are designed to live o Small scale o Close knit o Sharing o A purpose o Non-hierarchical
  21. 21. Web-based questionnaireWeb-based questionnaire • ~1000 responders • ~170 intentional communities • Probing social relations, happiness, meaning of life and much more • Compare results to othe populations
  22. 22. They are doing fine!They are doing fine!  Total Sample (n=849)   Mean SD Life satisfaction 5.41 1.12 Personality Emotional stability 5.51 1.20 Extraversion 4.26 1.68 Openness 5.87 0.98 Agreeableness 5.52 1.08 Conscientiousness 5.82 1.15 Social support 27.8 4.2 Identity fusion 3.93 0.96 Meaning Presence 27.5 6.1 Searching 18.9 8.0 Community Tenure (months) 122 116 Community satisfaction 5.90 1.24 Positive change 6.13 1.04 Grinde B, Nes RB, MacDonald I, Wilson DS. Quality of life in intentional communities. Social Indicators Research, (2017) DOI 10.1007/s11205-017-1615-3.
  23. 23. Books and articlesBooks and articles (see: