health than you think. For some of us, that’s a little easier said than done. According to a Harvard study, training your brain to be positive is not so different from training your muscles at the gym. Recent research on neuroplasticity—the ability of the brain to change even in adulthood—reveals that engaging in one brief positive exercise every day for as little as three weeks can have a lasting impact.
A 2008 Dutch study involving 19 research projects showed that being happy and having a positive outlook can add 7 to 10 years to your life. Research has also shown that when people work with a positive mind-set, performance on nearly every level—productivity, creativity, engagement—improves. Neurologically, as you increase positivity, you also affect hormones such as Dopamine, which floods into your system serving to make you happier and turn on all of
the learning centers in your brain.
One of my favorite quotes from Albert Einstein is “There are two ways to live your life. You can live your life as though nothing is a miracle, or you can live your life as if everything is a miracle.” Which one we choose can make all the difference in how we perceive the world we are experiencing. The more miraculous we view life, the more we can find more meaning and beauty in life. As we cultivate the positive feelings that lie within, we can move more quickly away from insecure or negative thoughts as we realize we don’t have to take ourselves too seriously. We can begin to transform our lives in a more positive direction in spite of any difficult challenges we face.
Some people just seem to be born with a more positive mind-set. These are the people that we all love to be around. But what about those of us who can sometimes lean more towards the ‘glass is half-empty’ mindset? How do we go about training our brain to be more positive? As with any habit change, we need to put some focused attention towards it and begin to incorporate a few new routines to create new neural pathways that can essentially rewire the brain to be more positive.
Here are 10 suggestions that can infuse more happiness in your life right now!
- Appreciate life ~ Develop an attitude of gratitude and count your blessings! When you start looking for things to be thankful for, you’ll discover more reasons to be grateful. Maybe keep a list near your bed and end your day listing new things that you found in your day to be grateful for. By reviewing the positives in your day you will also better retain more in your memory bank.
- Keep learning ~ Invest time and energy into learning and developing new skills. Keep your brain stimulated with exciting information and hobbies. This has been shown to decrease memory loss and dementia as well as keeping you happier.
- Do what you love ~ This may seem obvious, but a majority of people dislike their job! Choose a career that you enjoy …if that’s not possible at the moment, make time in your schedule for your hobbies and to pursue special interests. Don’t let the day slip by without including something that brings you joy.
- Laugh often ~ Don’t take life too seriously! Laugh at yourself, make light of your circumstances and infuse fun into daily activities.
- Practice forgiveness ~ Holding onto anger, resentment or jealousy will only hurt you. Learn to forgive others & yourself for mistakes. Let it go and move on.
- Meditate ~ Research shows that meditation has major benefits to health and well-being. It increases positive emotions, life satisfaction, and immune function. It also brings more awareness to your own thoughts so you can recognize when you’re falling into patterns of negative thinking and shift your attention to something more positive. Join a FREE 21-Day Guided Meditation with Oprah & Deepak called Expanding Your Happiness. Starts August 11th.
- Love ~ Nurture your relationships with friends & family, and make it a priority to spend time with and to support your loved ones.
- Stop comparing ~ Happy people don’t waste their time worrying about what other people think, nor do they gossip. Let go of the need to judge or criticize. Instead concentrate on creating and living YOUR best life.
- Be positive ~ Make an effort to see the glass half-full and always look for the silver lining in any situation. If you notice a negative thought creeping into your mind, counteract it with a powerful, positive affirmation such as “I love and approve of myself” or “I embrace all of the good Life has to offer me”.
- Surround yourself with those who lift you higher ~ Surround yourself with happy, positive people who truly want the best for you and support you on your journey to success.
So which ones will you start implementing into your life right now? Don’t procrastinate on this, your best life is waiting!
By Mary Rasmussen
Integrative Health Coach
Achor, S. (2013). Book: Before Happiness: Harvard research shows happiness is a precursor to greater success
Carlson,R Ph.D. (2006) Book: You can be Happy no matter what…5 principles for keeping life in perspective.
Goleman, D. (1987). Research affirms power of positive thinking. The New York Times
Goode, E. (2003). Power of Positive Thinking May Have a Health Benefit, Study Says. The New York Times.