Bottom line: everyone is dissatisfied (except the Finns), and that sucks.
In a recent video, brain health expert and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Daniel Amen addressed this topic, explaining why we’re unhappy. He says our sense of uncertainty has skyrocketed. We are afraid of getting sick. Worse still, we fear that someone we love will get sick.
The result? We are tired.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Dr. Amen argues that the secret to feeling happier is to strengthen our brains. We often underestimate the damage a diseased brain can cause. We often forget the impact that the neurochemicals in our brain have on our mood.
Take supplements to increase happiness.
In Dr. Amen’s book, Memory Rescue: Supercharge Your Brain, Reverse Memory Loss, and Remember What Matters Most, he cites research that has confirmed the positive effects of some supplements for fighting depression. Since they improve brain health, they improve mood.
Protect your brain’s pleasure centers
Have you ever wondered why so many superstars succumb to drugs and alcohol? Why do people who should be the happiest people in the world kill themselves or look miserable?
The answer lies in the nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain responsible for motivation and reward. Due to its connection with dopamine, the neurochemical of pleasure, it is the area of the brain responsible for addictions.
Many things activate dopamine in our brain: a promotion at work, a compliment, a kiss, but also alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. In fact, while the first three are like little shots of dopamine here and there, the last three send out a rush of dopamine, making us feel happier than ever.
Connect with happy people
You have probably come across the longest study ever conducted on happiness. After more than seventy-five years of following the lives of a group of men, Harvard researchers concluded that the secret to happiness lies in the quality of our relationships.
How close are you to other people? More importantly, how are these other people? Do they raise or lower you?
If the people around us are full of negative energy, we will share their blue mood. But if we connect with happy people who look on the bright side, they will lift our spirits. As Dr. Amen says, “People are contagious.”
Eat happy brain food
The brain is an energy-consuming organ. Since it uses twenty to thirty percent of the calories we eat, the food choices we make affect it profoundly. Depending on our choices, we can fall prey to brain fog and lower moods.
Fortunately, the opposite is also true. What we eat can improve our brain health and by doing so, increase our happiness.
In Dr. Amen’s book, he talks about the Brain Warrior diet. In other words, how to eat for a healthy brain. The link above leads to an article where I explained this in detail, but here I am going to write down some examples of happy and sad brain food.
Pay more attention to what you like than what you don’t.
This habit may seem obvious, but most of us still let a lot of negative stimuli into our lives. In a way, it’s natural. Our brains are problem-solving machines. They have evolved to find out what is wrong and help us survive.
However, we are no longer in the middle of a savannah. We are no longer at immediate risk of death, at least most of the time. Worse yet, we now live in an age that bombards us with so much negative information that it can seem like everything is a tragedy.
But have you ever stopped to notice all the random acts of kindness that people have performed during the pandemic? It is true that there were many idiots, but also heroes. We are the ones who decide where to look. We can choose whether we want to feel disappointed or inspired.