New research in neuroscience reveals 4 rituals that will make you happy. Everyone has its own version of being happy or great advice under their belt to pass on. We shouldn’t place our trust in whoever but we can surely have confidence in what neuroscientists say.
In the book “Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a time”, UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb underlines the four things that create an upward spiral of happiness in our lives.
1. When in low spirits, ask yourself the single most important question of all
Contrary to popular belief, shame, guilt and pride actually activate the brain’s reward center, which explains why it feels enticing to nurture these feelings. A good mechanism to feel a little better is also worrying, because you’re doing something to get out of the rut. But shame and guilt are not actually good tools for being happy.
Neuroscientists say to ask one question instead: what am I grateful for?
Gratitude boosts your dopamine and serotonin levels naturally, simply put it makes you happy. Thinking about the things you’re grateful for makes you see the positive aspects in your life. Your brain brightens up only by engaging in this simple act. Even if you can’t seem to find anything, it’s all about the searching.
“It’s not finding gratitude that matters most; it’s remembering to look in the first place. Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.” (The Upward Spiral)
Not only does gratitude make your brain happy, but it affects your relationships positively. Read more about why gratitude is vital for your overall happiness.
2. Label negative feelings
Instead of running from your worst problems, it’s best if you acknowledge them. Turning your back on your negative feelings only prolongs the turmoil and it will most definitely backfire on you.
Put a label on those negative feelings: angry, anxious, sad?
Just by “putting feelings into words” you greatly reduce the impact that those negative emotions have on you. So by describing exactly what you’re sensing, you’re already one jump ahead of these horrible feelings.
Labelling is a fundamental tool for mindfulness. Meditation has been used since ancient times to scrape off the negative thoughts and feelings that inhabit our soul. Find out more about how to get rid of negative feelings faster and other mindfulness methods that might help.
3. Decide once and for all
According to neuroscientists, by making decisions you reduce anxiety and worry as well as solving the problems. To make decisions is to set goals and that has a positive effect on your brain. Moreover, it changes your perspective on the situation because you’re no longer worried and stressed but calm and ready to take action.
Yes, to finally make a decision is hard. There’s no point in looking for the perfect decision for perfection can bring you to the depths of despair. You should make instead ‘a good enough decision’, that’s the neuroscientists’ advice. If you’re seeking to choose the absolute 100% best decision, it might turn out to be a nerve-racking process.
4. Touch people
Not only do people want to interact but they want to feel as well. Touching is one of the things that brings joy to your brain. It has been found that touching can increase your work performance or math skills and makes you more persuasive.
“One of the primary ways to release oxytocin is through touching. Obviously, it’s not always appropriate to touch most people, but small touches like handshakes and pats on the back are usually okay. For people you’re close with, make more of an effort to touch more often. “ (The Upward Spiral)
Thus, hugging and holding hands reduces pain of all kinds. So meet with people, shake their hands, give them a hug, kiss your loved ones, these things increase happiness big time! Please share this!