8 Tips From Neuroscientists on How to Become Perfectly Happy
There are thousands of tips and psychological techniques to help you feel happy and learn to rejoice in each new day. But what if our own body had a say in the matter?
Today Bright Side presents some findings from neuroscientists — the people who know exactly when and why your brain can give you the feeling of total satisfaction!
Learn to say "Thank you."
What happens: When we thank a person, or even fate, for something, we focus ourselves on the positive aspects of life. Pleasant memories trigger serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex. This technique is often used for treating depression.
Solve problems one at a time.
What happens: Our brain never stops searching for solutions to every problem that worries us. This takes a lot of energy, so whenever the brain gets tired and the problem remains unresolved we feel anxiety and irritation. On the other hand, for every successful decision, our brain rewards itself with a dose of neurotransmitters that calm the limbic system and help us once again see the world in a better light. Therefore, it really is useful to try to deal with one problem at a time.
Don’t keep things pent up: talk about what bothers you.
What happens: The processes of wordlessly going through something unpleasant and talking about your predicament involve making use of different parts of the brain. In the latter case, negative emotions have a lesser impact on your well-being. It is, therefore, advisable not to keep your problems pent up. Whenever you talk about them, your brain triggers the production of serotonin and even manages to find some positive sides to the situation.
Touch and embrace.
What happens: To us, humans, social interaction is really important. Various forms of physical support, especially touches and embraces, can speed up a person’s recovery after an illness. If you remove tactile interaction from your life, the brain perceives its absence the way it perceives physical pain: the same brain zones become activated in both instances. This, in turn, triggers the processes that affect your mood and contribute to the development of depression.
Learn, learn, and, once again, learn!
What happens: For the brain, acquiring new knowledge means permanent adaptation to a changing environment. By means of this process, our brain develops, rewarding its own attempts to absorb and process fresh information with dopamine, the hormone of joy. If you want to be happy, don’t be afraid to try something new, to change your surroundings, to learn new things.
What happens: Physical activity is stress for the body. As soon as the stress ends, your body gets a reward: a dose of endorphins, released by the pituitary gland. The effect is similar to that of opiates (e.g., morphine), which reduce pain and elevate the mood. You don’t need to run marathons to achieve this result — even an ordinary walk can do wonders! Incidentally, many writers and composers consider taking walks an indispensable part of the creative process.
Always try to get a good sleep.
What happens: While we sleep in the dark, our body secretes the hormone melatonin. This hormone slows down all processes in the body, helping it to recover and increasing the level of serotonin in the hypothalamus. If the brain detects a change in lighting, it triggers the release of the stress hormone to quickly awaken the body. Therefore, it is important to sleep 6-8 hours a day and only in darkened environments.
Engage in pleasant expectations.
What happens: The process of waiting for something nice, such as food or sex, is similar to the learned salivation response. Our brain actually experiences pleasure by simply anticipating the pleasant event. That’s why we’re so fond of counting the hours and minutes to some special moment — be it a birthday or a wedding, a meeting with a friend, or just an end to a long working day.