When you have a positive mental outlook you automatically flood the brain with serotonin and dopamine, two neuro-chemicals that cause brain cells to create new connections (synapses) with other brain cells within the brain. When you’re happy, your brain literally grows.
When you have a negative mental outlook serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain drop, reducing the number of synapses within the brain. When you are unhappy or depressed, brain cells that no longer connect with other brain cells die. Your brain literally shrinks.
Happiness, therefore is the fountain of youth for the brain. That is why it is so important to forge habits that increase happiness and reduce unhappiness. What habits increase happiness?
- Daily Aerobic Exercise – Aerobic exercise is a happiness activity because it contributes to an overall feeling of well being. Aerobic exercise releases endorphins, natural painkillers that promote an increased sense of well-being and make us feel “happier”.
- Daily Learning – Our brains are hardwired to learn. When we learn something the brain rewards you with specific neuro-chemicals, such as dopamine, serotonin and brain-derived neurotrophic factors, all of which make us feel happier.
- Relationship-Building Activities – The latest science on happiness (Harvard University Longitudinal Study on Happiness) indicates that the more close relationships you have, the happier you are. Volunteering, networking, team sports activities, club participation, mentoring and groups you participate in will help increase the number of close relationships you have.
- Practiced Positivity – Meditation, expressing gratitude daily, daily positive affirmations and reading something inspirational create a positive mental outlook.