We all want to be happy. The desire to be healthy, find love, serve humanity, and other common goals in life can arguably come under the broader desire for a happy life. As happiness might be considered one of humanity's primary goals, it’s no surprise that there is an entire field of scientific study dedicated to it.
ow can we experience more happiness? Thanks to evolution, the human brain is designed to pay more attention to negative thoughts and stimuli than positive ones. Once upon a time, our negativity bias kept us safe and extended our lives. These days, we’re much better off if we can rewire our brains and nervous systems to pay more attention to all the positive aspects of our lives.
Research shows that improving our happiness also enhances our physical health and psychological wellbeing, as well as the health of our hormones and other biological functions. Happiness also leads to better relationships, more motivation and increased productivity.
Some people are born happier than others, but our genes only account for 50% of our overall happiness (and let’s not forget about epigenetics!). 10% of our happiness depends on meeting our basic needs for food, shelter and safety, but the remaining 40% is within our control.
The scientific study of happiness has revealed that we can learn to feel good through awareness and various exercises that train our brains to be happier. So let’s take a look at how it’s done! Here are 7 ways to train your brain for happiness:
Swap perfectionism for self-acceptance
Perfectionists tend to set intangible goals and have unrealistic expectations of themselves. Since perfection is impossible, it isn't easy to experience happiness while you have a perfectionist mindset. Perfectionists may even take the pursuit of happiness too seriously and beat themselves up when it doesn't go exactly as planned!
If this sounds familiar, bringing awareness to this issue is already a great start. The next step is to reassess the expectations you place upon yourself and learn to love the imperfect nature of life. The real trick with overcoming perfectionism is to show yourself the same love and compassion that you have for others. In other words, love yourself unconditionally and be kind to yourself regardless of what you do and don’t achieve.
When we compare ourselves to others, we tend to focus on our areas of lack
Avoid comparing yourself to other people
When we compare ourselves to others, we tend to focus on our areas of lack. A healthier approach is to remind yourself that everyone has their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, and then simply take note of what you admire about other people.
You can then decide whether you'd like to start embodying those qualities yourself. This way, you're only ever comparing yourself to who you were in the past.
Practice gratitude - even when there’s room for improvement!
Like perfectionists, maximisers are ambitious people who continue searching for better options even when they are satisfied. This constant future scanning and planning prevents them from experiencing all the happiness available to them in the present moment. Happiness is only found in the present!
You’ve probably already heard about how powerful gratitude is. Still, a gratitude journal is also an excellent tool for staying present and connecting with all the potential moments of happiness each day.
Use the power of metacognition
The act of thinking about thinking is called metacognition, and it's a powerful memory aid. It's easy to read an article like this, feel inspired and ready to implement changes, only to forget about it within a few days. However, metacognition provides a simple yet effective way to hack your happiness.
All you have to do is ask yourself whether you’re thinking positively. This simple question is a surprisingly powerful reminder to catch yourself when you’re running negative thought patterns so you can refocus your attention on the positives.
Accessing more positivity can be as simple as making and memorising a list of positive words
Consciously use positive language more frequently
Loaded with symbolic and emotional meaning, words are incredibly potent. But since we use them all day, every day – it’s easy to underestimate the impact they can have on our subjective wellbeing. Is the language you use each day filled with negativity and indifference? When you journal, are you reliving, reiterating and reinforcing all your negative experiences and perceptions?
If so, perhaps it’s time to start a daily happiness journal? Dedicating a few minutes each day to reflect on and write about all the happy moments you’ve experienced is a great way to train your brain for happiness. Although, it turns out that accessing more positivity can be as simple as making and memorising a list of positive words.
Use associations to ‘anchor in’ presence and positivity
A fun way to train your brain for happiness is to assign new meanings to things your see, hear, smell, taste or touch regularly, but randomly. For example, you could decide that a particular species of bird are here to remind you to be present, breathe deeply, and enjoy the world around you. But let’s take it even further.
Next time you’re super happy, consciously create an anchor for that feeling. Boiling the kettle to make an aromatic cup of Authentic Chai is a great example of a powerful anchor because so many of your senses are involved. You hear the kettle boil; you smell and taste the warming spices in the chai; you feel the warmth on your hands and throughout your body.
Each day when you drink your Authentic Chai, your senses will bring you back to that original state of bliss.
Good nutrition and daily movement are also very helpful ways to ensure a happier life
Celebrate your wins – no matter how ‘small’
A ‘win’ is anything you accomplish that aligns with your intentions. You can have a win in any area of your life, from your relationships to your health and fitness. It's important to acknowledge and celebrate all of your wins, not just the big ones. If perfectionism and self-criticism have been a big part of your life, then it can be easy to overlook the little wins.
However, when we do celebrate our little wins, there are so many more opportunities to experience confidence, self-love, and a whole bunch of other happy emotions. Hey, maybe reading all the way through this article would be a little win? Nice work, you’re almost there! The next part is super important.
No one is happy all the time
Although happiness is a habit we can cultivate, there are times in our lives when it's normal to feel sadness. If you've just lost a loved one, are going through a breakup, have lost your job, or have suffered another adverse life event, feeling sad is healthy and natural. What makes happiness so beautiful is the fact that we can’t have it all the time. The more we can accept and be present with our sadness, the sooner it will pass, making way for more happiness.
In addition to these 7 ways to train your brain for happiness, good nutrition and daily movement are also very helpful ways to ensure a happier life. Sunlight, deep breathing, and consuming vitamin D-rich superfoods can also prime your physiology for more happiness.
With 50% of your daily recommended vitamin D and a wide range of other micronutrients you need for natural happiness, Superfood Greens + D is a must-have in your daily routine.