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1. Listen To Music From The Happiest Time In Your Life

Music affects the brain in an interesting way: it can remind you of places you have listened to it before.

Were you happiest in college? Play the music you loved then and it can transport you to that happier place and boost your mood.

2. Smile — And Wear Sunglasses

The brain isn’t always very smart. Sometimes your mind is getting all this random info and it isn’t sure how to feel. So it looks around for clues. This is called „biofeedback.”

You feel happy and that makes you smile. But it works both ways: when you smile, your brain can detect this and say, „I’m smiling. That must mean I’m happy.”

So happiness makes you smile, but smiling can also produce happiness. Feeling down? Smile anyway. „Fake it until you make it” can work. 

3. Thinking About Goals Changes How You See The World

And I mean, literally. Researchers flashed a bunch of circles on a screen in front of study subjects. One of the circles was always slightly different than the others. It was brighter or smaller, etc.

But when they told people to prepare to point at or try to grab the circles something crazy happened

If they thought about pointing at the circles, they became better at noticing the brighter circle. If they were told to think about grabbing a circle, it was easier for them to identify the smaller circle. What’s that mean? Having a goal literally changed how they saw the world.

So when you’re feeling stressed or challenged, think about your long-term goals. It gives your brain a sense of control and can release dopamine which will make you feel better and more motivated. 

4. Get Good Sleep

We all know depression messes up how people sleep. But what’s interesting is it’s actually a two way street: bad sleep also causes depression.

5. How Neuroscience Beats Procrastination

Your brain isn’t one big ol’ lump of grey goo that’s perfectly organized. Far from it. Think of it a little more like a bunch of your relatives arguing at the dinner table during a holiday get together.

When it comes to the choices you make and the things you do, Alex says there are 3 regions you need to be concerned with. You don’t need to memorize the names. It’s just important to realize they all get a vote:

  • The Prefrontal Cortex: The only one thinking about long-term goals like, „We need to prepare that report for work.”
  • The Dorsal Striatum: This guy is always voting to do what you’ve done in the past, like, „When it’s time to work we usually start by checking email 9 times, then Facebook, and then watching Netflix.”
  • The Nucleus Accumbens: The party animal of the three. „Email, Facebook and Netflix are fun. Work sucks.”

So guess what you end up doing? Yeah… Ouch.

But when you exert effort, the prefrontal cortex can override the other two and do the right thing. Repeat this enough times and you rewire the dorsal striatum: „We usually start reports quickly. I vote we do that again.” That’s how the brain builds good habits. So why don’t we do that more often? Often the culprit is stress.

So if you want to build good habits and stop procrastinating, the first thing to do is reduce stress. (The best ways to do that are here.)

Procrastination is often a vicious circle because you delay, then you have less time to complete the project, so you get more stressed, procrastinate more, have even less time, which makes you even more stressed and… well, you get the idea. So what’s the answer? After a little something to reduce stress, find one small thing you can do to get started. This focuses you and prevents the overwhelm that knocks the prefrontal cortex out of the conversation.

Sum Up

Here’s what you can learn from Alex about how neuroscience can bring happiness:

  • Listen to music from the happiest time in your life: Let’s hope you had good taste when you were happiest.
  • Smile and wear those sunglasses: You don’t have to wear them indoors. That would be dumb.
  • Think about your goals: It changes how you see the world and releases happy chemicals in your noggin.
  • Get your sleep: Depressed people don’t sleep well. And people who don’t sleep well get depressed.
  • Beat procrastination by reducing stress and doing a simple thing to get started: Listen to those happy-era tunes and then assemble all the materials you need to get cranking.

And what’s that #1 thing that Alex says can start an upward spiral of happiness? It’s dead simple: Go for a walk outside every morning, preferably with a friend.

Yup, that’s it. How can something so incredibly simple be so powerful?

How to stop procrastinating:

  1. You don’t need more willpower. You need to build a solid habit that helps you get to work.
  2. Getting started is the tricky part. Turn that habit into a „personal starting ritual.” It can even have some fun to it as long as it signals that in a few minutes, it’s time to get cranking.
  3. The most powerful habits change how you see yourself. Think about what makes you feel like someone who gets things done and make that a part of your starting ritual.
  4. Eat chocolate with friends. Maybe not literally, but it’s a good reminder that you need both rewards and a support network to build rock solid new habits.

The coolest part is that if you follow these steps you’re on your way to a lot more than beating procrastination – you’re on your way to a better life.

Goodman E: English in a brief: Neuroscience discovers five things that will make you happy. Passion Chirurgie. 2018 November; 8(11): Artikel 04_02.

Autor des Artikels

Eveline Goodman-Hedtke

GeschäftsführerinEG – IQ & EQ Excellence GmbHHubertusallee 2714193Berlin kontaktieren

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