Most people look at me crazy when I put the words HAPPY and MONDAY next to each other. But I have great news for you today. Regardless of your circumstances, you CAN make today a happy Monday.
See, a happy life isn’t one where all the circumstances are working out just right.
Society has taught us that happiness comes when your external world is how you want it to be. The new job, the right romantic relationship, the dream house, or making it to Friday afternoon will bring us everlasting joy.
That’s not how our brains work.
Neuroscience is starting to reveal to us what ACTUALLY makes our brains register happiness and how we can train it to think more happy thoughts.
Here are three steps you can take today to increase your happiness. Try them out and let me know how they work.
You know what the antidepressant Wellbutrin does? Boosts the neurotransmitter, dopamine. So does gratitude.
The benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine. Additionally, gratitude toward others increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable.
Know what Prozac does? Boosts the neurotransmitter, serotonin. So does gratitude.
One powerful effect of gratitude is that it can boost serotonin. Trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production.
2. Make a decision
Ever make a decision and then your brain finally feels at rest? That's not a random occurrence.
Brain science shows that making decisions reduces worry and anxiety — as well as helping you solve problems.
But deciding can be hard. I agree. So what kind of decisions should you make? Neuroscience has an answer.
Make a "good enough" decision. Don't sweat making the absolute 100% best decision. We all know being a perfectionist can be stressful. And brain studies back this up.
Trying to be perfect overwhelms your brain with emotions and makes you feel out of control.
So when you make a decision, your brain feels you have control. And, as I’ve talked about before, a feeling of control reduces stress. But here’s what’s really fascinating: Deciding also boosts pleasure.
3. Touch People
Relationships are important to your brain’s feeling of happiness. If you have been rejected it doesn't just hurt like a broken heart; your brain feels it like a broken leg.
So what is the solution to rejection? Touch people (not in a creepy way, please)
Research shows getting five hugs a day for four weeks increases happiness big time.
One of the primary ways to release oxytocin is through touching. 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.
Touching is incredibly powerful. We just don't give it enough credit. It makes you more persuasive, increases team performance, and… heck, it even boosts math skills.
Touching someone you love also reduces pain.
Easy steps right? And free too!
So if you are finding yourself unhappy today, try these three steps out and see what happens.
Hope that helps! Now that you have some new tools…make it a HAPPY MONDAY!