Meditation Offers Alternative Ways to Increase Happiness

Dan Harris shares his personal experience with the practice and offers a look into the science behind it.
3:00 | 03/16/14

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Transcript for Meditation Offers Alternative Ways to Increase Happiness
Well, meditation seems to be the new, hot trend. Celebrities like Selena Gomez, Miranda Kerr, and others have posted meditation pictures. And Dan, fully clothed, thank you for that, has written a new book, called "10% happier," about how you became a meditator. I got involved because of all of the science. It said that meditation can reduce your chocolate cravings. Sara Haines. There's research that says meditation can make you nicer. I asked some scientists to put me to the test. Check it out. Right in this chair over here. Reporter: The researchers at U.C. Berkeley wired me up as I watched a sad video. They tested my ability to detect. And communicate emotion through facial expression and my voice. And then, they videotaped my face as I heard a sad family story. Died in his early 30s. Homeless in San Francisco. Reporter: And asked a panel of strangers whether they found me trustworthy. We're interested in your impressions of this person. Reporter: In the moment, a result of what researchers call a compassion workup. First, why does this matter to you? Because new science says compassionate people to be healthier, more popular, and successful. There are data showing, the clearer signal you show, people trust you more. Reporter: And check this out. The new research says you can effectively rewire your own brain to be nicer. Personally, I always figured, I'm a nice enough guy. I love animals and children. But when I heard that you can actually build your compassion like a muscle, I decided to give it a try. For several years, I've been doing compassion meditation. Ready to see your scores? Reporter: Yeah. Is it working? You showed a physiological response in regard to compassion. Reporter: I was strong with the faces and voices I had to read. He's excellent at Reading emotions. It says so right here. Reporter: Science, baby. Science. However, when it came to communicating emotion, I was well below average, which might have something to do with my job. You fit your profession so well. You have an eagle eye for what other people are feeling. And you're not letting them -- you're not letting other people see what you're feeling. However, your wife likes that. That's another question. Reporter: Yeah. I don't think my wife is a huge fan of that. Technical terms. Science, baby, science. With a little mug to the camera. In all seriousness, what is compassion meditation involving? At first it's going to sound irretrievably dopey. You picture a series of people and send them good vibes. You wish them good health, happiness. The research shows it can change your brain and the parts of the brain that has to do with compassion and empathy. And it's good for your health. It can reduce levels of stress. And it's been shown to work. Little kids are more likely to give their stickers away to strangers. I picture you guys all the time when I do the meditation. Thank you for that. Especially you, Claiborne. Thank you. It's a fascinating story and a great book. I hope the women around the country buy this book for their husbands. Get this book for simple meditation instructions. Go to abcnews.com/10%happier. Or go to Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can check out Ron's book. Best seller. Exactly. Coming up here on "Gma," the

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