Happiness is something we all aspire to and we all have different things that make us happy. But did you know that science examining the brain’s response to certain situations and scenarios has revealed strategies that we can all use to increase our happiness?
While it might feel like scientific study into our brainwaves might be a joyless way to find ways to lift our spirits, pioneering research in neuroscience has established methods and habits that you can use to make yourself happier. If you need a boost in happiness, try out some of these simple suggestions.
Get more sleep
How much sleep do you get every night? Medical advice suggests that to function properly we should get at least eight hours per day. Interestingly we know that depression can stop people from getting the kind of sleep they need, but equally not getting enough sleep can lead to depression. People with insomnia are far more likely to develop depression than those who get enough sleep. This suggests that we need to make a concerted effort to get enough time in bed. If you aren’t getting eight hours a night regularly it could be having an effect on your health. Ultimately getting more sleep will make you happier.
Listen to the music you listened to when you were happiest
Music can have an enormous effect on the brain. One of the most interesting discoveries in neuroscience has shown that if you listen to music that you listened to at a time when you were happier, it actually lifts your mood. Music has the ability to remind us of a different time in our lives and put us back into a mindset we were in when we were happier. This can be enormously valuable if you feel your levels of happiness have dropped.
Smile and laugh
It’s actually quite easy to trick your brain or at least lead it in a different direction. The brain uses something called biofeedback to better understand what is going on around you. So when you laugh or you smile, the brain is aware that you are relaxed and having fun. This effectively tells it that you are not in a state of anxiety or stress so it changes the chemicals being released into your body. In effect you can tell your brain that you are happier simply by smiling and laughing – doing so, the brain releases chemicals that actually will raise your mood.
Think about your long term goals
In a similar way that smiling can affect the way you feel, you can also influence your brain by thinking about your long term goals. If you feel under pressure or challenged it can be important to stop focussing on the challenge itself and instead set your mind on the positive thoughts of what it will be like to accomplish that goal. Your brain understands that accomplishing something is meaningful and actually begins to release the same chemicals it releases when you have actually completed the task.
Form good habits and you’ll keep them
Human beings are creatures of habit. When we come to make our decisions we actually rely heavily on something called the dorsal striatum which looks at what we have done in the past to make decisions. The striatum effectively controls how we make decisions if we aren’t focussed, so if we are in the habit of doing something we shouldn’t – for example, procrastinating – we are very likely to do that in future. To get out of the habit we need to retrain our dorsal striatum to respond the way we want it to. So focus on changing your behaviour to the way you want it to be and soon it will become second nature.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the health sector – fascinated by neuroscience and its ability to aid improvement of one’s own mental and physical state. For the information in this post, Think Change Consulting were consulted.