Changing Your Mind: An Interview with Andrew Weil, M.D.

The author of Spontaneous Happiness shows us new ways to relieve depression and foster emotional well-being

One reason Andrew Weil, M.D., the “father of integrative medicine,” wrote his new book, Spontaneous Happiness, is that the most searched-for term on is “depression.”

It’s the common cold of modern emotional life. And he thinks we’re thinking about it all wrong. Yes, an imbalance of brain chemicals can trigger depression, but it goes the other way, too: An imbalance of thoughts and habits can change your brain to make depression more likely. Or less likely.

Dr. Weil believes an approach that integrates healthy habits of the body, mind and spirit can play a key role in preventing and alleviating mild to moderate depression. It can foster emotional well-being -- and happiness.

Like all of his books, Spontaneous Happiness is a refreshing combination of clarity, science and practical wisdom. But it’s also warm and, indeed, personal: Dr. Weil includes not only anecdotes from people who’ve written to him over the years, but also his own experience in battling mild depression. We caught up with him by phone during his book tour.

What is spontaneous happiness?
I use spontaneous happiness to call attention to the fact that happiness is something that comes from inside. It doesn’t come from getting something you don’t have. You can’t expect to be happy all the time, but you can open yourself up to the possibility of happiness.

A better goal than happiness, actually, is contentment. Contentment is an inner feeling, and it is something that can be cultivated. Next: Depression Rising

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