The Science of Happiness
Happiness is something everybody wants out of life, but it's surprisingly hard to achieve. We experience stress from both our work life and our home life every day. You've probably read all kinds of tips on the internet with recommendations from meditation to medicine, but these tips are unique: they're all tips from real neuroscientists. These three tips are their top recommendations for feeling happy.
The Problem: You worry too much
Whether it's an argument you had with your spouse, or a deadline looming at work, you are nearly always worrying over something. It's so bad sometimes you can't sleep or not, constantly reviewing events in your head and worrying about scenarios that aren't even real.
The Solution: Review what you're grateful for
While gratitude may not seem connected to worry at all, according to neuroscience it actually is. We worry because like it or not, it triggers the reward center in your brain. It's satisfying to worry. It feels like you are doing something about the problems. (Yes, even the ones that don't really exist.)
Gratitude also triggers the reward center in your brain, particularly by releasing dopamine which is an anti-depressant.
The Problem: You feel bad
Ever wake up and just plain feel bad? You search around for a word to pin it to almost automatically. Maybe you feel a little depressed, or just plain grumpy. Before you've had very much time to think about it, you've identified your emotion and labeled it.
When you are feeling a negative emotion, it lights up the emotional parts of your brain. Without any other parts of your brain lit up, you feel that emotion at it's strongest. When you label the emotion, other parts of your brain kick on—reducing the emotions you feel. For negative emotions, this is veru useful.
When ever you feel a negative emotion, take a moment to label it before any other action. You'll feel calmer, and be able to handle the situation better.
The Problem: You have trouble making decisions
Difficulty in decision making is typically a trait by someone with perfectionism. You can't just clean the kitchen. You have to clean every inch of the kitchen including pulling out all of the tupperware and finding the lids for them.
The Solution: Aim for “Good Enough.”
Instead of trying to make everything absolutely perfect, just aim for good enough. Not only is it actually good enough for everyone involved, but it will be a whole lot stressful, and you'll get a boost from it—making decisions, even bad ones, make us feel better than not making a decision at all.
Good enough is surprisingly efficient, and marking things off your to do list always feels great—even if the Tupperware isn't organized and looking like something straight off of Pinterest.
These three tips may sound strange, but they're all backed by hard science. The next time your thoughts try to take control of you, fight back with these science backed strategies.
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