There’s a lot to be said for being happy. You feel better, have more energy and are healthier. The problem is that an astounding 80 percent of our thoughts are negative. According to Loretta Breuning, Ph.D., author of The Science of Positivity, “Our brain is not designed to create happiness, as much as we wish it were so. Our brain evolved to promote survival. It saves the happy chemicals for opportunities to meet a survival need, and only releases them in short spurts which are quickly metabolized. This motivates us to keep taking steps that stimulate our happy chemicals.” She continues that “you will feel bad a lot if you follow your survival brain wherever it leads.” The good news is that you can actually train your brain to become more positive. Happiness, can be cultivated with some surprising practices.
We all know that we should be getting regular exercise. It can be hard to get motivated, but you can’t afford not to exercise if you want to live a long, healthy, productive life. Exercise benefits your brain health, cognition and can also improve your memory. Exercise releases the happy endorphins.
Make a practice of positive thoughts.
To break the cycle of negativity, before you go to sleep, think about three specific good things that happened that day. Whether if it was someone buying you a cup of coffee, an amazingly beautiful sunset, or just driving without traffic. Even the smallest things, like being paid a compliment, having lunch with an old friend, or watching your dog roll around, are more than enough to make you happy.
Starting your day with a cup of coffee is a ritual that turns out to be beneficial to both your heart and your cognitive functions. The effects of coffee are not permanent, but it can help your brain work more efficiently until the caffeine wears off.
Give someone a compliment.
This is easy and you will feel better.
Showing kindness to others will boost your happiness.
Bananas, eggs, blueberries and salmon can boost your spirits. Stay away from sugar and processed food.
Sleep is non-negotiable. Create a comfortable space to sleep and make your rest a priority. Think about crabby children who miss their nap. You aren’t any different.
Look for the sun.
Sunlight and exercise go hand and hand. Getting too little sunlight is not good for your spirits or your brain. You need vitamin D to perform better and slow down aging. You just don’t want to get too much sun on your skin. Sometimes I just like to sit in front of a sunny window.
Find your peeps.
Surround yourself with positive people who inspire, motivate and empower you to be your best self. Run from the “Debbie Downers”. They are contagious.
Reframe your past.
Sometimes in order to become more positive, you have to uncover and release past negative experiences. Therapy can help, but also daily affirmations can help release the burden of someone else’s negativity.
Take care of your teeth.
Taking care of your teeth has endless benefits. There is a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, less joint inflammation, decreased cancer risks and it most of all good oral hygiene protects your brain cells. Plus, you look a lot better when you smile.
Regardless of where you are going (or not) keep your happiness levels up by taking care of yourself. This is a habit that will reap endless rewards. Make sure you know that you count.
Meditate and breathe.
Meditation or just mindfulness reduces stress levels and can prevent age-related disorders such as Alzheimers or dementia. Mindfulness is simply being aware of your thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. There are all sorts of phone apps that will guide you through a series of simple exercises that will help you feel better and be more happy.
Improving your attitude and achieving a happier life is all about forming good habits and habits take time to build. Focus on one or two of these things at a time and show yourself love and compassion. You really are your best friend.
Sources Angela Ruth & Thomas Smale