Mind, mind-spirit, Wellness

5 Ways to Train Your Brain to Be Happy

You choose how happy you are. 

Seems simple enough, right? 

Positive thoughts = 
Negative thoughts =

 

While it feels like we are constantly being bombarded with overwhelming news, it's sometimes hard to feel like we can find positivity. However, we must remember that each day brings new beginnings and joy can be found in the simplest of places.

According to New York Times best selling author, Harvard trained researcher and positive psychologist Shawn Achor, happiness is a choice that we can actually wire our brains to feel through optimism, positive thinking and mitigated stress response. Once you learn to see the world through a more positive lens, you can harness true motivation and authentic emotion to achieve your personal and, yes even, professional goals. 

But, don't be concerned if you don't feel happy all day everyday. Think of happiness as a journey, not a destination. It’s a day-to-day choice we make to put negative thoughts behind us and shift our focus to positivity. Positive thinking—which has countless academic studies —is extremely transformative in our behavior and our emotions.

So, how do you stop negative thoughts in their tracks and transform them into positive ones? TRAIN YOUR BRAINHere are five scientifically proven ways some ways to rewire your brain for positivity, and subsequently, happiness.

1. Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness are a form of mindfulness. Actively deciding to do something thoughtful for someone else without intention to receive it back, will break negative feedback loops. Do something nice for someone else, anyone else. It is even proven in a clinical study that "short-term increases in happiness were found...for participants who practiced the five acts of kindness all in a single day” (Lyubomirsky, 2005). 

Challenge: Do five random acts of kindness for a week and see how it makes you feel. Then, repeat it the following week.

2. Meditate

Studies have shown time and again that meditation can permanently rewire our brains to increase happiness. It can transform the body, mind and soul to its fullest potential. According to an academic meditation study done with jail inmates in a correctional facility, "the experimental group experienced fewer sleeping difficulties, less desire to throw things or hit people, and less nail or cuticle biting; were more hopeful about their future; and felt less guilt" (Sumter, Monk-Turner, Turner; 2009). Meditation also lowers cortisol release in the body from stress, which is known to be a major cause of emotional and physical illness.

Challenge: Try meditating for 10 minutes every day for this week, focusing on your breath going in and out. Actively notice how your mind feels before and after. Alan Watts has some great free guided meditations on Youtube.

3. Exercise

We all know how important exercise is. Our bodies need constant movement to be able to properly function and maintain healthy lymphatic drainage. Interestingly, "16 weeks of aerobic exercise training was [found to be] comparable to that of standard pharmacotherapy" (American Psychological Association, 2004). Exercise is a great way to quiet the mind and sweat out negative thoughts. As Elle Woods would say: exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy!

Challenge: Find ways to exercise everyday, such as going for a long walk with the family or doing a quick 20 minute HIIT workout. Remember, do what feels best for your body. We highly recommend walking or working out barefoot outside to soak up the positive and anti-inflammatory ions from the earth. Oh, and don't forget your Restore tonic after your workout!

4. Gratitude

Being grateful is one of the most vital habits of happiness. We need to find ways to be grateful for even the simplest of privileges like the air we breathe, food on our plates, and shelter over our heads. Taking that time to feel grateful for what you have puts you in a positive state of mind, reroutes negative thought patterns and promotes healthy relationships. According to an article published in Psychological Science, "gratitude functions to nurture social relationships through its encouragement of reciprocal, pro-social behavior between a benefactor and recipient" (Bartlett and DeSteno, 2005).

Challenge: Trying writing down three things you are grateful for each day before bed. Put them in a jar and read at a later date to look back and appreciate your beautiful life.

5. Gratitude Journal

A great way to reflect on your gratitude each day is by starting a gratitude journal. When you train your brain to reflect on the positive outcomes of each day, your brain will subconsciously start to notice them and you will feel happier. "Writing about emotional experiences is associated with a host of positive outcomes" such as constructive communication habits and long lasting relationships (Slatecher and Pennebaker, 2006). Letting out your thoughts and feelings is both liberating and productive.

Challenge: Create a gratitude journal by writing for at least two minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours. Time yourself to make sure you hit the mark and simply let your thoughts flow.