Eternal love, the creation of new family, Approval of society – whatever, but everyone wants to know, Will Marriage Make Me Happier?

People have long believed that being unmarried makes people unhappy, but a long-term study shows that marriage does not necessarily make people one bit happier. The myth that marriage makes people happier and healthier probably stems from the fact that married people are indeed happier and healthier than single people, because married people are less likely to be in poor to fair health, smoke or drink heavily or suffer from such health problems as headaches and serious psychological distress.

Although past studies have stressed positive thinking as the key to a happy marriage, it turns out to be effective only in a short term. In the long run, you adapt back to the level of happiness you started with.


With the help and encouragement of the Dalai Lama, neuroscientist Richard Davidson recruited Buddhist monks to go to Madison and meditate inside his functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tube while he measured their brain activity during various mental states. For comparison, he used under- graduates who had no experience with meditation but got a crash course in the basic techniques, and experienced Meditators some of whom have spent 10,000 hours of their lives in meditation.

More interesting were the differences between the so-called adepts (highly skilled) and the novices. In the former there was significantly greater activation in a brain network linked to empathy and maternal love. Connections from the frontal regions, so active during compassion meditation, to the brain’s emotional regions seemed to become stronger with more years of meditation practice, as if the brain had forged more robust connections between thinking and feeling.

But perhaps the most striking difference was in an area in the left prefrontal cortex- the site of activity that marks happiness. While the monks were gener- ating feelings of compassion activity in the left prefrontal and swamped activity in the right prefrontal (associated with negative moods) to a degree never be- fore seen from purely mental activity. By contrast, the undergraduate’s con- trols showed no such differences between the left and right prefrontal cortex. This suggests, says Davidson that the positive state is a skill that can be trained.