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Rituals That Will Make You Happy, According to Neuroscience

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The Science of Happiness

What does it really mean to be happy? The answer to this basic question can have varying answers depending on who answers the question. For instance, a religious leader will give you one answer and a life coach will offer you another. Who will you trust? It depends on you. But we say; when it comes to your happiness, trust a neuroscientist.

They study that grey matter which is responsible for your happiness – your brain.

Neuroscientist Alex Korb has some insights (which are pretty scientific) as to how to make oneself happy.

1) The Most Important Question To Ask When You Feel Down

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like your brain wants you to be happy. You may feel guilty or shameful. Why?

Believe it or not, guilt and shame activate the brain’s reward center.

Despite their differences, pride, shame, and guilt all activate similar neural circuits, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, insula, and the nucleus accumbens. Interestingly, pride is the most powerful of these emotions at triggering activity in these regions — except in the nucleus accumbens, where guilt and shame win out. This explains why it can be so appealing to heap guilt and shame on ourselves — they’re activating the brain’s reward center.

And you worry a lot too. Why? In the short term, worrying makes your brain feel a little better — at least you’re doing something about your problems.

In fact, worrying can help calm the limbic system by increasing activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and decreasing activity in the amygdala. That might seem counterintuitive, but it just goes to show that if you’re feeling anxiety, doing something about it — even worrying — is better than doing nothing.

But guilt, shame and worry are horrible long-term solutions. So what do neuroscientists say you should do? Ask yourself this question:

What am I grateful for?

Yeah, gratitude is awesome… but does it really affect your brain at the biological level? Yup.

You know what the antidepressant Wellbutrin does? Boosts the neurotransmitter dopamine. So does gratitude.

An article on Time.com outlines more ways on how to be truly happy.

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