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  • These 6 Brain Hacks Can Increase Your Happiness (Part 2)

    As promised, this week will be the sequel to the previous post about how to hack your brain into feeling happier. We already covered willpower, bypassing your brain’s processing gateways via sense of smell, and changing the stories we tell ourselves to promote optimism. Here are the last three ways you can trick your brain into feeling happier.

    1. Turn the negative into positive

    Ever wonder why it’s so easy to focus on the bad things that happen to us and difficult to focus on the good things? This is because our brains have natural negativity biases built into the way it processes information to protect us from harm. However, Professor Loretta Breuning of California State University, says we can overcome and even replace these biases. Take one minute three times a day to scan current situations for positive aspects.

    Instead of rolling your eyes and thinking, “Oh no there’s Karen, she’s always complaining about something.” Actively focus on the positives, “There’s Karen. I’m just going to smile and not let myself be bothered, I can definitely handle that.”

    2. Don’t hide from monsters, unmask them

    Negative thoughts and emotions are facts of life, however unpleasant and unwanted they may be. But trying to ignore, deny, or hide from these sensations doesn’t lessen their intensity—in fact, it can even enhance the discomfort.

    Instead, try this trick backed by science from UCLA: label your uncomfortable feeling with one word. Anger, jealousy, embarrassment, etc. When you force yourself to label an uncomfortable emotion rather than reacting to it you are diminishing the amygdala’s response (our fight, flight, and freeze centers).

    3. Small acts of kindness

    Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky of UC Riverside is a big believer in random acts of kindness. For six weeks she asked her students to commit five random kindnesses and found the experiment resulted in a 42% increase in happiness for her students. This experiment has been repeated several times in many different contexts but the results are always the same. Increased happiness, and an increased likelihood to pay it forward.

     

    Happiness is not as elusive as we have been lead to think. There are many things we can do to increase or enhance our natural happiness. For more techniques and tips to promote a greater sense of happiness and wellbeing, contact John Gallagher, LMHC. He has been providing therapeutic counseling services to couples and individuals for over 15 years.