We all want to be happier, but it seems like a mission impossible. The media bombard us with the imperative that those who are not happy have not enjoyed their lives or have not been able to enjoy it.
Achieving happiness is not easy, no matter how much the industry of excessive positivism says otherwise. However, that does not mean that it cannot be achieved, although it is clear that some effort will be required.
Can happiness be formed? This is the question we will answer below. Find out if it is possible to train to be happier!
Can happiness be formed?
Everyone wants to be happy, of course. The average citizen longs for a full, content and happy life. Failure to do so is interpreted as failure, wasted life, unrealized experience. For this reason, there is a real happiness industry based on cheap psychology, self-help books and courses that help with credit card relief that ensure that it is possible to be happy with the method. , whoever she is. Are they right? Can happiness be formed?
Being able to train for happiness is, however, possible. the form is neither simple nor fast. For, indeed, in terms of change, in this search for full psychological well-being and true fullness, nothing is easy or quick. We can be happy at the moment, but not all the time because in the end human beings keep being a roller coaster of emotions. And good luck! because otherwise it would be difficult for us to adapt adequately to the requirements of our environment.
Training us to be happier will cost you your work. As much as the so-called “happiness industry” wants to convince us that full happiness is within our reach, it is not.. There is no simple formula to be more joyful and optimistic, but a whole set of strategies and attitudes towards life to change the way we interpret it and receive the hard setbacks it sometimes gives us.
Our own brains don’t make it easy for us either. We will say it in a very simplistic but fairly explanatory way: our brain does not care that we are happy. In reality, the only thing that matters is that we survive and, therefore, value the fears and the mechanisms that put us in the comfort zone. He focuses more on the negative to avoid it than the positive to keep doing it, and it costs him change, even if it is for the best.
However, just because the body on which we operate is resistant to change does not mean that it cannot. We humans have made significant progress throughout our evolutionary history changes that have helped us better adapt to complex environments. These changes would not have been possible without stepping out of the comfort zone and daring to live better. This can be extrapolated to psychotherapy, which has shown that shifts towards balance and healing are possible, but it first takes genuine commitment and active patient effort to achieve this.
Train us to be happier
There are little things that can give us some satisfaction. Habits which, although they do not bring us complete happiness, help us avoid being the opposite, i.e. bitterness, dissatisfaction and torment. Certain actions such as eating better, being more active, exercising, and other healthy habits can make our minds more optimistic and happy.
Everything that we have said can help us be happier in life, but it doesn’t necessarily mean being happy. In fact, happiness has more to do with how we approach and value life than with what we already have. Of course, not missing anything will help us not to be sad, but if we have serious problems with life’s adversities, we stress easily and have bad relationships with our social environment, we will not be happy.
As Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1934-2021) said, easy recipes don’t work for a happy life. Happiness is a path, an individual process where everyone must make an effort to be creative and original. to see what works best for you. But while this path to happiness is different for everyone, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t general guidelines to train our brains to achieve it. Let’s look at some of them.
1. Train the mind in realistic positivism
Neuroscience shows that thoughts are the simple product of brain activity. They are the result of the activation of electrical connections. Something similar is happening in the opposite direction, being the thoughts that can change the way the brain is configured, generating new connections and even shaping it.
Repetitive and even obsessive negative thoughts affect our performance. Negativism exhausts our brain, which has been observed on neuroimaging as minor activity in the prefrontal area. The result is difficulty finding and finding solutions to life’s problems, which frustrates and stresses us out, negative emotions that fuel negative thoughts. A cycle of negative and dysfunctional thoughts is generated.
If we want to be happy we have to change this way of thinking. A key to this is to make a conscious and constant effort, trying to gain more control over this type of mental process. We already know that it is difficult, that it costs, but to control what we think and to stop looking at life from such a negative point of view is to gain sanity. Everything we say and think matters.
We need to stop negative thinking and apply realistic positivism. The goal is to reflect on our way of thinking, to be less rigid with what surrounds us, and to try to see the positive in life. There are things that, as small as they seem to us, can brighten up our day in one way or another. Its power is cumulative and if we manage to make it a habit, a day will come when we will be happy by inertia.
2. Set goals regularly
One of the situations in which we can feel the most happiness is when we are successful in achieving a goal that we have set for ourselves.. At the cerebral level, reaching a goal results in an increase in dopamine, serotonin, our brain is bathed in neurotransmitters that bring us happiness and satisfaction. Not all goals are the same: some are achieved over the long term, while others can be achieved throughout the day. According to their ambition, more or less they give us satisfaction.
A good way to be happier is to set goals regularly, preferably every day. Always recommended, you should also be careful with these types of goals as they should be affordable and achievable within 24 hours. If we come up with projects that are too ambitious to be carried out every day, there are many possibilities that we will not realize and, as a result, we will be disappointed. with ourselves, the complete opposite of what we want.
Everyone needs to know themselves and be aware of their limits and capacities, setting goals based on them. This does not mean that our limits and our abilities are immutable, but we cannot go beyond what we are capable of at the moment. Whether we set ourselves affordable, easy-to-achieve daily goals or small steps that lead us to a bigger long-term goal.
Whatever we want to accomplish, set goals. Not doing it, having no goals or goals in life leaves us hanging in an existential void, an abyss in which we wonder what our lives are worth and what we are for. Having nothing to do or do can lead to nihilistic thoughts which can be a breeding ground not only for unhappiness, but also for mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
3. Develop the esteem of self
As we mentioned earlier, you can’t be happy every day. One thing is that we consider our lives to be happy in general and another very different thing is that every day we are immersed in the most absolute and resounding joy. We are human and we live from top to bottom. It is impossible to always maintain this mental, emotional and behavioral state at all times. because somehow things will happen to us, even though it’s our responsibility for how they affect us.
There is something much more important than being happy: being good with yourself. Lack of self-esteem is not only keeping us from being happy, but it also negatively affects a myriad of areas that make up our life. Dissatisfaction with oneself is evident in our studies, work, family, friends … we do not see ourselves as capable, we are frustrated with who we are and we do not react adaptively to life’s adversities. .
Within self-esteem is self-respect and self-esteem, fundamental aspects of everyone’s life. It is also within it to evaluate the positive things that we have accomplished and to identify the negative ones to overcome or improve them, and this point is the most important thing to keep in mind to improve esteem. self. If we motivate ourselves to achieve our vital goals and improve what we lack, we will be able to increase our self-esteem. and we will be happier.
4. Practice gratitude
The power of gratitude is enormous, which makes it even more amazing that we forget to give thanks for all that life gives us. Forgetting to be grateful does not allow us to appreciate and value what we have, what we have been through, what we are. Things that we take for granted, like owning a house, buying food, or having a job, are something that others want with all their might.
It is therefore strongly recommended to thank each evening for something, appreciate the fact that we have at least 3 important things for our lives. This little gesture, this little daily habit can increase our levels of happiness in a matter of weeks, making us see how much we have compared to less fortunate people.
5. Analyze and question complaints
It is said that people who do not complain are happier. Complaining can be exhausting and only makes us see things in a more negative light. The ideal is to know how to value all that is good in your life, to be grateful for it and not to complain too much.
Sometimes, however, it’s inevitable that we complain, either out of habit or because we haven’t thought about avoiding it. If we’ve missed a complaint the best thing we can do is analyze it. Let’s look at our complaints, see what they represent and what argument they use to make us see how unhappy we think we are. How do they make us feel? Let’s make a list of these thoughts and start questioning them.
If we are successful, anytime one of these malicious complaints escapes us, we can immediately draw a counter-argument, which delegitimizes them. And there will come a time when they won’t directly dare to reveal themselves, because you can hardly complain about what makes them happy.
6. Put resentments aside
One of the most important things about happiness is to put resentment aside. Envy, resentment, discussions about the past … the associated emotions hurt us more than the people we have these bad experiences with have. It is a difficult thing indeed, but if we do it, we will be happier and it is a step not to be missed in our path of formation to happiness.
7. Be kind to others
Happiness is formed by first forming kindness. It is difficult for us to be nice, pleasant and friendly with the people around us, both family and acquaintances with whom we may cross the street. The right words help make the planet a better place, do it without expecting anything in return.
Treating others better helps us be happier while others have a harder time telling us something ugly.. If we are good with others, others will be good with us and it will therefore be more difficult for us to have bad friends with our social circle. Less conflict equals more happiness, which is why kindness must be formed.
A classic when it comes to happiness is mindfulness. Although it has its reviews, this technique can be useful for some people. It is nothing more than working to be able to pay attention to the present and keep our minds from wandering down dark paths, fueling very negative hypothetical thoughts, memories and hypothetical scenarios. Internal dialogue is useful in planning our lives, but when it becomes toxic it traps us in a whirlwind of bad emotions and harmful thoughts.
What mindfulness seeks is to control the attention of our mind. The goal is to be able to say to ourselves “right now I’m doing or thinking something that I don’t feel right”, to stop paying attention and focus on something more positive like the landscape, a painting in the painting. bedroom, the music we listen to or the rubbing of clothes with our skin.
As we have seen, happiness can be formed, but it is not an easy or quick process. It is a mixture of good attitudes towards life, investment of effort and self-knowledge, as well as self-respect and valuing what one already has. It is also the ability to set realistic goals and achieve them that brings us closer to happiness, both to feel the one who gives value to his life and to achieve these goals and to feel the shot of dopamine and serotonin which causes its fulfillment.
- Berridge, KC and Kringelbach, ML (2011). Building a neuroscience of pleasure and well-being. Psychology of Well-Being: Theory, Research and Practice, 1 (1), 3.
- Kringelbach, ML and Berridge, KC (2010). The functional neuroanatomy of pleasure and happiness. Discovery Medicine, 9 (49), 579-587.
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- Ortiz, MM, Albiol, LM, Lorente, SS, & Robledillo, NR How to reprogram your brain to be happy.
- Salzberg, S. (2010). The secret of true happiness. Editorial Espasa Llibres. Madrid.
- Aubelle, T., Wencl, S., Reynolds, S. (2011). Train Your Brain to Be Happy: The Simple Program That Prepares Your Gray Blood Cells for Joy, Upbeat, and Serenity. Avon: Adams Media.