happy

Ever since the days of Socrates and the Greek philosophers that lauded the logical mind over everything else, humans have considered themselves as rational creatures.

We like to think that we consider all the facts and crucial information, make educated decisions and behave according to our personal value system and collection of empirical knowledge. We are rational animals that act in the best interests of our families, our communities and ourselves.

Except, we don’t. Numerous studies have shown that while humans are able to use logic and reason thanks to a hearty prefrontal cortex that doesn’t exist in other animals, our actions are largely controlled by our more primitive emotional brain.

Your logical mind knows without a doubt that the slice of chocolate cake is full of sugar and devoid of nutrients; your emotional brain says “ME WANT NOW!” And because humans evolved in an environment where daily survival was much more important than long term health or longevity, our emotional brain often wins the fight.

What’s the modern human to do? Trick your brain and live happier. Realize that we are emotional creatures, subject to the whims of our feelings and easy swayed by the right words, colors, flavors and smells. Surround yourself with things that affect your emotional brain in the right way, and your logical brain will say: “I told you so!”

Change your computer passwords to an inspiring phrase.

Instead of a jumble of numbers and letters, choose a short phrase that will lift your spirits every time you type it, whether you realize it or not. Some media mantra ideas include keepyourchinup, successiscoming and hopesareup.

Print out the word success and tape it above your computer.

Better yet, print out a sheet of synonyms for success as well. Your emotional brain will appreciate the impact even when your logical brain is concerned with an overflowing box of emails.

Bored at work?

Use colored paper and pens to literally brighten your day. Having trouble meeting goals? A sticker chart, just like your kindergarten teacher had, can have amazing effects on achieving goals for adults as well as kids.

You wake up and feel lousy as hell.

You have two choices: stay in bed and call in sick, or trick your brain: get up anyway and push all notions of sickness out of your head. Continue your normal routine as usual and completely resist the urge to whine to your friends or coworkers about how you feel – in fact, see if there’s a way to make someone else’s day better. There’s a good chance that by the end of the day, you’ll forget that you though you were sick that morning. If not, go to the doctor. You’re sick.

Don’t be a maximizer.

We are inundated with a million choices in modern life, not only for cereal and toothpaste but also for jobs and mates, with dating profiles and job openings listed online like the shopping options at Amazon.com. Maximizers are people who still keep shopping even after they’ve found an awesome couch, just because they want to make sure – for sure for sure – that they have made the right decision. Stemming from self-doubt, this tendency can have disastrous effects when applied to decisions that shouldn’t be undone, like marriage and childbirth. Commit to your life-changing decision, and wipe all thoughts of what else you might be missing from your mind.

Further reading: http://www.amazon.com/Makes-Brain-Happy-Should-Opposite/dp/1616144831

Image by Anirudh Koul