As you guys always tell me, I’ve clearly gone through some really positive changes over these past few years. And I’m proud of that! I like this new, happier and calmer me! But it’s definitely a sum of little changes that made me who I am now. I came across this list of five little things you can do to make you way happier and I just needed to share.
These findings are SCIENTIFIC so you know it’s the real deal. It comes from UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb’s research on the effects of different happiness strategies on the brain.
I summed it up here but if you want to read the whole thing, it’s from Entrepreneur.
- Gratitude creates happiness. Gratitude boosts levels of serotonin and dopamine which are the brain’s happy chemicals. And the best thing about it is it will work even when things aren’t working out for you. That means you don’t have to feel spontaneous gratitude to get those chemical changes in your brain. You just have to force yourself to think about something your grateful for. This will get your brain to make you feel happier. So literally count your blessings!!
- Labeling negative feelings dilutes their power. In a study, literally just naming negative emotions calmed down the brain. So just be aware of your negative feelings. Don’t let them win.
- Making decisions feels good. Just like what happens when you name your negative emotions, making decisions engages the prefrontal cortex, which calms the amygdala and the rest of the limbic system. The key is making a “good enough” decision. Trying to make the perfect decision causes stress. Making a “good enough” decision activates the dorsolateral prefrontal areas of the brain, calming emotions down and helping you feel more in control. Trying to make a perfect decision, on the other hand, ramps up ventromedial frontal activity –which basically means your emotions get overly involved in the decision-making process.
- It helps you to lend a hand. Helping others will help yourself! Helping other people gives you a surge of oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine, all of which create good feelings. People who consistently provided social support to others were the most likely to be happy during times of high stress.
- Our brains are wired for touch. Touch is one of the primary stimuli for releasing oxytocin, which calms the amygdala which then calms emotions. There are even studies that show that holding hands with a loved one actually reduces the brain’s response to pain. Touch reduces stress hormones, decreases the perception of pain, improves sleep and reduces fatigue.
This is how Korb concluded this findings: “Everything is interconnected. Gratitude improves sleep. Sleep reduces pain. Reduced pain improves your mood. Improved mood reduces anxiety, which improves focus and planning. Focus and planning help with decision-making. Decision-making further reduces anxiety and improves enjoyment. Enjoyment gives you more to be grateful for, which keeps that loop of the upward spiral going. Enjoyment makes it more likely you’ll exercise and be social, which, in turn, makes you happier.”
Now go out and be happy, loves! XOXO