What is the secret to happiness? You often think it is a new job, designer shoes, a great partner or even winning the lottery. Believe it or not, the answer is not in the things you have or want, but the answer lies within.
Why is it when you buy shoes that you thought would make you happy, a day later, you are still not happy. The reason you feel good about the shoe purchase in the moment is similar to the analogy of playing slots at Vegas. Each time you pull the lever at the slot machine you get a dopamine rush. It feels good and you continue. But the feeling doesn't stay. It is momentary. The brain is only playing a trick on you.
Happiness is not about chasing the next great thing, but it is about being true to yourself and understanding what you really want. Research shows that happiness is a skill that is learned and can grow. Follow the path below and you will be on your way to finding out what truly makes you happy.
Be Healthy - Start to exercise, it does works. What happens and how is the brain involved? You have two things happening. When you exercise, your brain recognizes it as a moment of stress. To protect you, the brain releases a protein called BDNF, (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). This protein acts as a reset switch to calm the stress. That is why we often feel at ease after exercise. At the same time, endorphins are released which fight stress. Endorphins minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain and leave you with a feeling of euphoria. Research shows that you don't even need to exercise for a long time to reap the benefits. The first 20 minutes give you the highest happiness rush.
Be Curious - When you are curious, you are interested in learning new things. You experience a sense of wonder. If something is not the way you want it to be, a curious nature allows you to explore and experience new opportunities. Get curious about you. Ask yourself, what makes you happy? What are you good at? What do you not like to do? When you start to ask yourself these questions, you will learn what truly inspires you. Write the answers down so you can act on them. This will be the start to your path of happiness.
Be Grateful - Gratitude is a key in happiness and success. It has been proven by Scientist Robert Emmons and Sonja Lyubomirsky, that not only does it increase happiness, but it also improves your immune system, reduces anxiety, depression and makes you more resilient. With gratitude you recognize the goodness in your life and how you have been supported by others. Gratitude emits positive feelings motivating you to pay it forward.
Be Positive - Our brains have a propensity towards negative thoughts and consider a negative thought to be 5 times more important. You have over 50,000 thoughts a day and 70% of them are self-critical, unpleasant and negative. The good news, you can train your brain to think positive. With positive thoughts you experience greater joy and calm. You become happier and more interested in finding your own success. In fact when you choose to be positive, you are 31% more productive and 23% less stressed.
Happiness is all relative. Think about what truly makes you happy. Explore what you want, what makes you tick and try new things. The path begins with you. Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment and share on your social media.
Colleen Cassel, CEO and Founder of Upstream Solutions, is a speaker, leadership and career consultant. Working with organizations and individuals to impact performance in their business and career. Colleen consults and trains on how being mindful and authentic improves leadership, communication, focus and creates a smarter way to work. Contact: Colleen@colleencassel.com ~704-900-6448.