Train Your Brain To Be Happy, Oh So Happy
Can you really train your brain to be cheerful? Can you push your joy and happiness levels to new limits? Can you be more content and carefree? Abso-flipping-lutely.
Training your brain is becoming as talked about as training your body. Whether it’s flexing your neuroplasticity via learning something new, exercising your cognitive development skills by increasing your task list by 50% or stretching your morning ritual to ensure you’ve set up your positive, carefree mindset for a sweet day ahead, there are just so many ways to train your brain for positive results!
In this blog we’ll examine the best top tips to become a happier you. These ‘How To Be Happy’ tips and habits are easy to do, they’ll inspire you and also boost your happiness levels two-fold.
Bring on the best brain training tips for happiness. And revel in your new-found endorphin addiction. Woop!
How to be happier tip 1: Train Your Brain To Dislike Sugar
What does sugar do to your brain?
In the words of Dr Olsen when referring to the impact of sugar on the brain, mind and body: “Like drug addiction, non-drug addictions manifest in symptoms including craving, impaired control over the behavior, tolerance, withdrawal and high rates of relapse.”
That ‘comedown’ feeling you get after indulging in a sugary snack is literally the same as if you’d had a night out/in on the white stuff. Grouchiness, irritability, over-indulgence and feeling ‘low’ are all a part of your brain and body’s comedown from the drug/sugar influx. It’s no wonder you want to grab another sugary treat to give you that high again.
So what can you do to quit sugar and get yourself unhooked from this powdery drug? Here comes Peak – Brain Training’s top tips to say ‘C YA sugar’ and ‘HELLO happiness:’
- Swap sugar with Xylitol or another natural sugar substitute. Avoid mainstream sugar alternatives as they can actually do you more harm than good. Check out Dr Jockers list of sugar-alternatives to naturally boost your happiness levels.
- DON’T go shopping hungry. Nope not a good idea. Go to the supermarket with a very clear mental list of what you want (mental list, not written, as this helps flex your memory muscles!) and ensure you’re not in a ‘pudding-hunting’ mindset. This will help you avoid all sugars down those sticky sugary aisles.
- Track your daily sugar intake for 5 days. Seriously do it. You’re about to be gobsmacked at the MASSIVE quantity of sugar in the stuff we presume is ‘healthy.’ We’d recommend checking out the sugar in your cereals for starters (14g of sugar a bowl right?) followed by that bottle of OJ (20g of sugar a glass yes?) and then perhaps look at that “health food bar” (17g of sugar? Yep that sounds about right.) This will change the way you think about snacking forever.
By doing these 3 easy things to stop eating sugar you’ll notice those wild mood swings and withdrawal symptoms you keep having will disappear. Which can mean only one thing… MORE HAPPINESS!
How to be happier tip 2: Train Your Brain To Crave Exercise
Think “small steps” for this one. Kaizen is a method adopted by Japanese businesses whereby the practice of using small steps to build on continuous improvement are used. These small steps allow for steady progress, efficiency and quality results. We believe you can apply Kaizen’s six basic principles to your life when it comes to encouraging your brain to crave exercise by taking small, manageable steps.
Exercise For Happiness
‘The leading Brain’ by Friederike Fabritus, MS, and Hans W. Hagemann, PHD, sums up these steps brilliantly. We’ve explained the first 3, and the remaining 3 are in their book:
Step 1: Ask Small Questions
Kaizen’s “Small Questions” help to program your brain by allowing your mind to come to terms with what’s being asked (in this case to physically move more), rather than triggering a threat response. By asking smaller, less threatening questions we’re easing ourselves into the idea of fitness.
Example of question: “How far can I walk/jog/run today to start/boost my fitness ritual?”
Step 2: Think Small Thoughts
Once the question has been asked, it’s time to think of the answer via visualisation. “Small but steady changes” are key when visualising yourself doing the task, for example visualising yourself running 1k – your “mind’s attitude toward the once-dreaded task will be reshaped.”
Example of a small thought: “I’m going to jog 1k today to kickstart my fitness ritual.”
Step 3: Take Small Actions
Now your small thoughts are live, it’s time to take action, small action. So start with the 1k run and allow yourself to up the distance verrrry sloooowly, perhaps adding 1k each week or every other week. In business you often see executives setting too many big goals for their employees, leaving both sides disappointed, however when smaller tasks are set with a gradual increase in workload, employees tend to thrive.
Example of small action: I will start by running 1k and up my runs by 1k each week, or every other week.
How to be happier tip 3: Make Time For Powerful Thoughts
“How you start your day is how you live your day.” Yep, we couldn’t agree more.
Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson, authors of ‘You Can Create an Exceptional Life’ highlight the power one thought can have on your entire day. Becoming mindful of your thoughts is the key to happiness and catching thoughts before they become negative and self-deprecating is vital: “It’s a game-changer when you realise that how you start your day sets in motion a pattern of thinking that determines your experiences all day long… Every day, in little ways, we deepen the groove of habitual thoughts that directly influence the quality of our lives by what we think and say to ourselves on a regular basis.”
Think Positive Thoughts
Positive psychology is the most powerful tool that we have to access happiness. Shawn Anchor lectures on happiness, positive psychology and human potential. In Shawn’s very funny TEDxBloomington presentation, he discusses how most modern research focuses on the “average”, but that “if we focus on the average, we will remain merely average.” By studying the impact of positive and happy inputs on the brain, he believes that we can learn to “move the entire (happiness) average up.”
Focus On Feeling Happy
It seems many are in agreement that happiness comes into play when you actively focus on feeling happy.
Stress-Proof Brain by Melanie Greenberg, PHD reiterates this perfectly giving actionable advice: “Focus on what you have, not what you lack.To create a sense of abundance, focus on all the good things you already have in your life: love, achievement, family…”
So how can you be happier at work, happier at home and happier with your life? What things can you do quickly to become a happier more positive person to be around? And how can you become the happiest you can be each and every day? It’s simple really:
- Rewire your brain to stop craving sugar and take control of your diet
- Train your brain to LOVE exercise
- Scan the world for the positive not the negative! Happy thoughts = happy brain power.
Tap Into Your Brain’s Potential
Happiness is a serious matter – a serious brain matter to be precise. By tapping into your brain’s happiness potential, rewiring the way you think and introducing an openness into your everyday life, you’ll be stepping closer to a happier, healthier and a “what’s she on! I want some!” you.
Let’s finish on a little bit more cheese with a smile-inducing science-backed fact:
3,2,1 queue smile.
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- Neuropharmacology 2011 Dec; 61(7): 1109–1122
- Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson, You Can Create an Exceptional Life. 2011: 49-52
All information featured in Peak – Brain Training articles are provided for informational purposes only and are not substitutes for medical or physician advice.