The science of happiness is a fascinating subject. The research is showing that happiness is a choice. It is a skill. It is a habit- and we can all grow and get better in this area, and life in general!
I think everyone desires to feel at peace no matter what may be going on around them, but many of us were never taught that it a skill and a muscle in the brain- something that needs to be learned and strengthened, not something that just comes naturally.
In fact, there is a whole science to happiness- proven actions that if we actually did them on a day to day basis, we could not help but be happier. If we were taught these actions and skills of happiness growing up, I think the world would be an entirely different place.
5 Daily Practices to Increase Happiness
1. Appreciation and gratitude
Although we are told all of the time to be grateful, it turns out that gratitude has a dramatic and measurable impact in the brain and body. Gratitude is the most healing emotion in the human body. Not only does it heal, it also physically changes the brain and sets the filter of how you perceive life.
When we consciously shift our attention on what we like verses what we do not like and abundance instead of lack- we set the filter of what our brain takes in and notices in the world. In other words, if you focus on what you are grateful for, you will begin to notice more things to be grateful about. However, the opposite is also true, the more you worry, the more your brain scans the world for things to worry about.
Try to catch yourself in a negative emotion, replace with what you are grateful for and eventually, this will become your default thinking pattern.
Right in the morning, and right before bed are the most powerful times to shape your brain- think of three things you are grateful for at these time for a month straight and see the dramatic shift that takes place!
Read about how prayer changes your brain.
2. Use Your Body to Create Happy Hormones and Brain Chemicals
Our emotions and feelings follow our behavior and actions. . . and we can change our state of mind by changing our body state.
Although it may feel wrong and fake to do actions that are opposite of what you are feeling- it truly changes your brain chemistry when you do so.
For example try a power pose. A power pose is when you Hold your body in a certain way and then your brain chemistry begins to change. Give it a try…..smile and throw your hands in the air like you just crossed the finish line of a race and you won, for 2 minutes if possible. OR place hand on hips like superwoman/man.
This begins making chemicals and hormones in your brain as if you are actually experiencing that moment- and your mood will instantly change! Give it a try;)
Each thought we think is creating either positive hormones and brain chemicals or toxic and damaging hormones and brain chemicals. The more we can control our thoughts and generate positive emotions without depending on our circumstances to do so- the more our brain chemistry begins to change!
Super brain yoga is an excellent practice to change your brain and body.
3. Exercise and Diet
What we eat and how we move dramatically affects how we feel. Eating a diet that is full of life giving, nutrient dense foods and avoiding foods that kill your energy, hormones, and mood will change your life forever. Stick to a diet rich in leafy greens, vegetables and fruits, an abundance of healthy fats, healing protein sources, and complex carbohydrates. Avoid sugar, vegetable oils, and non-organic animal products.
Studies have also shown that exercise is as effective as an antidepressant. Daily movement gets blood, oxygen and nutrients to the brain and organs as well as creates neurotransmitters that make you feel amazing. Eating and moving this way will dramatically affect how you feel and experience life.
I have several posts about a diet for energy, a diet for hormone balancing, the basics of a healthy diet, and mood boosting foods! I also talk about the effects exercise has on the body and how to work out at home and get in shape in 1 hour a week.
4. Mindsets are Habits: Wire your brain for happiness!
Creating habits will change your life. Most people are not aware that mindsets are actually habits. If you want to be happier, you have to make a habit of it so you rewire your mind and make that a part of your identity- without having to try.
Try practicing happiness for 1 month. Focusing on what you are grateful for each day, exercising, looking for the good in things, power poses, and surrounding yourself with people, podcasts, and books that inspire you.
By doing this, you are creating new neural pathways in your brain that will override old thought patterns.
5. Have Daily Triggers
Now that we know some techniques that cultivate happiness- how do we remember to do them? We need to set up triggers throughout the day to remind us. For example- set an alarm on your phone to go off three times a day with a note attached telling you what you want to remember.
This will train your mind to remember and do the things that bring you peace, joy, and the ability to be in the present moment.
Successes follows happiness, not the other way around:)
The more we can refocus our minds- the more joy we will have!