St. John’s Medical Center will host Dr. Richard Davidson this Wednesday at the Center for the Arts. Dr. Davidson will deliver a 90-minute presentation titled, “How to Have a Healthy Mind.”

Dr. Davidson will discuss mental training strategies that have been proven to improve the wellbeing of children, adults, and ultimately communities.

Your health comes to mind

We’ve often heard the phrase “state of mind”—as in such-and-such is merely a state of mind. While that may be true for many things, it begs a follow up question: “How do I get my mind in the right state?”

Like diet and exercise for the body, health and wellbeing also includes developing the most important muscle in your body: the brain. That’s right, not only has science proved that ‘mindfulness’ is vital to wellbeing but research indicates we are all capable of changing our brains by transforming our minds and cultivating habits of mind that will improve wellbeing.

Wellbeing is a skill

Like any other muscle in the body, the mind (specifically neural circuits) exhibits plasticity, allowing for the strengthening of these circuits through exercise.

Dr. Davidson’s extensive research has led him to conclude that not only is wellbeing a matter of mind, but that by cultivating good habits and practicing skills of wellbeing, one will get better at it.

Dr. Davidson will identify four neuro-scientifically validated constituents of wellbeing, and break down how each of these is rooted in specific brain circuits that exhibit the ability to be modified through training.

Think of it as “mental toughness.” Skills like resilience, outlook, attention, and even altruism or generosity are good for your mind and thus good for your wellbeing.

It’s groundbreaking. It’s revolutionary. And it is proving to change lives for the better.

Richard J. Davidson is professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison as well as founder and chair of the Center for Healthy Minds.