Neuroscience – 4 easy & fast things to do to boost happiness

Brain research is both shifting and validating common knowledge. This article by Jon Spayde in the United Health Care bulletin is worth posting AND READING in it’s entirety.

How to get happy in a hurry, according to neuroscience

By Jon Spayde

“. . . Time.com blogger Eric Barker lists four rapid, in-the-moment ways to feel happy – he calls them “rituals” – based on recent neuroscience, and featured in a new book by UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb: “The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.”‘

“1. Ask yourself what you’re grateful for. A warm house, a pet you love, your success at Minecraft? Whatever. Gratitude, says Korb, boosts both dopamine and serotonin, the two most powerful neurotransmitter chemicals involved in giving you a feeling of calm and well-being. “Know what Prozac does?” asks Barker. “Boosts the neurotransmitter serotonin. So does gratitude.” And don’t worry if you can’t immediately find things to be grateful for, Korb says. The mental search for gratitude alone will begin to elevate the level of those pleasure chemicals”.

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One-liner doodle – WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

“2. Label negative feelings. Simply saying to yourself “I’m sad” or “I’m anxious” seems like a pretty paltry happiness strategy. But here’s what Korb writes: “…in one fMRI study, appropriately titled ‘Putting Feelings into Words,’ participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Predictably, each participant’s amygdala [the brain’s fight-or-flight alarm bell] activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact.”‘

“3. Make a decision. Just deciding to do something can reduce worry and anxiety right away. Korb: “Making decisions includes creating intentions and setting goals – all three are part of the same neural circuitry and engage the prefrontal cortex in a positive way, reducing worry and anxiety. Making decisions also helps overcome striatum activity, which usually pulls you toward negative impulses and routines. Finally, making decisions changes your perception of the world – finding solutions to your problems and calming the limbic system.”‘

“But what about making the “right” decision? Isn’t that stressful? Korb counsels letting go of perfectionism. The “good enough” decision is…well, good enough to make our brains go into at-ease mode. “We don’t just choose the things we like,” says Korb. “We also like the things we choose.”‘

“4. Touch people (appropriately).One of the primary ways to release oxytocin [the pleasure-inducing ‘cuddle chemical’] is through touching,” Korb writes. “Obviously, it’s not always appropriate to touch most people, but small touches like handshakes and pats on the back are usually okay. For people you’re close with, make more of an effort to touch more often.”‘

“A hug is particularly effective, he says, mobilizing oxytocin against that alarm-bell amygdala. And if you don’t have anybody to hug, go get a massage: “The results are fairly clear that massage boosts your serotonin by as much as 30 percent. Massage also decreases stress hormones and raises dopamine levels.”‘

United Health Care

12 thoughts on “Neuroscience – 4 easy & fast things to do to boost happiness

    1. Dapple G.,
      You said it perfectly. There are so many things science is revealing – the brain, the body, the cosmos – in this day and age . .. it’s fascinating and mind-boggling (but then again my mind is frequently boggled . . .)

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Dear Laura, Human Being,
          I would love to have my portrait drawn. However, if you are referring to Max, my predecessor that’s ok too. I never met him but from what I hear he was a handful. I, on the other hand, am perfectly mannered (if not groomed). I will speak to my human and let her know of your interest.

          Frankly,
          Freddie Parker Westerfield, CDT, RET
          Canine Dog Therapist, Retired

          Here’s my bio: http://wp.me/PLGhj-62W
          Here’s Max’s: http://wp.me/PLGhj-6

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Jacqui,
      I thought about your novel LUCY and how touch would have been one of the main forms of communication in pre-historic times. It makes sense that the brain would neurochemically respond with both pain and pleasure signals for survival

      Like

  1. KEWL! I’m posting these on my desk and on a note card to take with me. Instead of yelling at stupid drivers, will say “I’m mad at you dummy” (not shouting) and then state gratitude for having a car to take me places!

    Like

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