You know happiness when you feel it. It’s a neurologically-based chemical effect driven primarily by a neurotransmitter known as dopamine. When neurons release dopamine we get the sensation of happiness.
Thanks to recent advances in the study of happiness we now know that 60% of happiness is dictated by our DNA and circumstances – things outside our control. That’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that the remaining 40% of happiness is dictated by things completely within our control – activities. So, what activities 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.