Train your brain to naturally see the bright side—because chronic disappointment is exhausting
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Description & Discussion:
One of the greatest capacities of the human brain is to adapt to repeated stimulus to make reaction and cognition more efficient. Whether that stimulus is positive (like being happy) or negative (like trauma or disease), your brain will reorganize excising neural pathways to compensate or enhance its own ability to function. This principle is known as neuroplasticity. We commonly use the term “muscle memory” to describe the effects of neuroplasticity. In reality, “muscle memory” is the result of your brain reorganizing neural pathways to reduce the amount of cognitive effort you must expend to complete a movement or skill. Neuroplasticity is why practice makes perfect. “Practice” is meant to force reorganization of those neural pathways, and “perfect” is the result when you’re as efficient as possible.
This article describes how science says we can manipulate neuroplasticity to increase our happiness. By understanding the principles of how our brain adapts to a repeated stimulus, we can actually train ourselves to be happier. In some ways, this sheds light on a new definition of what it means to be happy. By forcing a change in our interpretation of external events and looking at their positive effects, we are essentially encouraging our brains to be happier, simply by making "being happy" more efficient than not. Practice makes perfect.
Decision, Design & Discipline:
The decision here is incredibly important. Just by declaring that you intend to be happier, you’re already altering how you’ll interpret external events. That simple declaration leads to being happier.
How will you ensure that you're focusing on positives and benefits more than negatives and drawbacks? One way to do this is by practicing gratitude. Knowing what we’re thankful for is not just for turkey day.
Additionally, I challenge you to take a few minutes every day and write down exactly who and what you're thankful for. Be intentional about it. There’s something visceral and accountable about writing things down.
How will you decide if you're happier? Come up with quantifiable metrics. Ask your significant other or best friend after 5 days of practicing. Take note of whether you still need that scotch or glass of wine at the end of the day. Are you sleeping better?