How to Trick Your Brain for Happiness

How to Trick Your Brain for Happiness

Rick Hanson explains how you can intentionally change your brain to create lasting happiness and well-being.

“…people who routinely experience chronic stress—particularly acute, even traumatic stress—release the hormone cortisol, which literally eats away, almost like an acid bath, at the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain that’s very engaged in visual-spatial memory as well as memory for context and setting,”

I have found Hanson’s article to be the most helpful whenever I find myself frustrated and unable to articulate it due to constraints beyond my control.  It don’t lose my cool often, but during times when I’ve tried to open the lines of communication, set boundaries  and still seem to have exhausted a tremendous amount of patience and seem to be getting nowhere; then I just have to accept that stress just sometimes comes with the territory.  By reminding myself that feeding my frustration only creates the brain toxins that will eat away the parts of my brain that make it easier not to over-think, I find it easier to encourage myself to engage in healthy activities that help me get out of the rut of anxiety and negative thinking.

Hanson adds:

Now the mind also can change the brain in lasting ways. In other words, what flows through the mind sculpts the brain. I define the mind as the flow of immaterial information through the nervous system—all the signals being sent, most of which are happening forever outside of consciousness. As the mind flows through the brain, as neurons fire together in particularly patterned ways based on the information they are representing, those patterns of neural activity change neural structure.

So busy regions of the brain start stitching new connections with each other. Existing synapses—the connections between neurons that are very busy—get stronger, they get more sensitive, they start building out more receptors. New synapses form as well.

It’s kind of cool to know that happiness is something that can easily be patterned through our behavior. Now if we can just remember to pattern ourselves to stop looking for it in all of the wrong places, it would be a much better world (unless it destabilized the economy, then I could see that producing some serious ramifications…)

I suppose I should consider myself to be one of the privileged and lucky few….


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