With coaching and positive psychology movement fashion has entered practical recipes that promise to make us feel better and become happier people. Although they are simple procedures and no less effective, some skeptics wary of these theories concerning the behavior and ask “more science”. Well, it turns out that for them there are some rituals that amplify the subjective feeling of well-being that we call happiness, because their arguments are covered by neuroscience.
In the book The Upward Spiral, neuroscientist and researcher Alex Korb addresses depression from neuroscience applied to everyday life, a very different perspective than we are accustomed. His theory of all these intricacies and chemical exchanges that take place between neurons and neurotransmitters and others we sound too scientific to assimilate so easily. But the purpose of this professor of the University of Carolina is to make us understand how, with small changes, we can influence our mood. The author speaks of creating an “upward spiral” with which to start generating positive changes that move us away from that negative attitude that we produce and that leads to sadness and discomfort. To achieve this, four ritual related Korb:
- Make a list of things for which we are grateful
In doing so, Korb says it will increase the density of neurons and emotional intelligence, which helps to improve personal relationships. Moreover, and very importantly, it increases the presence and activity of serotonin and dopamine-substances involved both the motivation and the feeling of pleasure and happiness-in the reward centers of the brain. But UCLA researcher has not been the only one looking for ways to increase the levels of these drugs regardless. Currently there are theories linking its presence in the brain and food. Without going any further, it has been shown that beer is a natural releasing dopamine. It is discovered in neuropharmacological study of the School of Medicine at the University of Indiana. Its director, Professor David A. Kareken Neurology, found that one sip of this drink increases the production of this neurotransmitter.
- Identify the emotion
Naming and even help to label what we feel helps much more to restrain or conceal pretending that nothing happens. In the latter case someone might get fooled, though not placate achieve our hiperexcited limbic system (responsible for regulating emotions). Verbalize concerns by categories or metaphors brings more significant changes in our brain: consciously recognizing them reduces their impact. Moreover, research group of collaborators underwent MRIs to various individuals to study brain activity; the results showed that mood disorders were reflected in changes in the activity of the limbic system. They found that acceptance of emotions helps regulate its negative effect. This is one reason why this practice is used successfully in treating depression with psychotherapy.
- Take decisions
When we decide something, we close a harrowing episode of uncertainty and fear of possible failure linked to the choice that we will take: bet on a letter and we are willing to take the consequences. That is on the mental plane. In the brain, making decisions and setting goals active, according to neuroscientist, the same brain circuitry in the prefrontal cortex, and does so in a positive way, reducing anxiety and stress. But make a point: deciding not always succeeds. As rightly pointed: “Perfection is the enemy of happiness”. It is sufficient to make enough good choices. To do this, nothing like training in meditation: in 2014, the journal Psychological Science and published the benefits of this practice from research by Andrew C. Hafenbrack.
This expert conducted research at the University of Singapore through which he discovered that 15 minutes of meditation or daily mindfulness helps you make better decisions, to the extent that is considered available information on the present. The mindfulness gives time to the striatum and prefrontal cortex to make the best decision neuroeconomic or smarter health and welfare in the long term.
- Embrace shamelessly
In adulthood we lose the childish habit of embracing another person, and therefore also dispense with one of the simplest exercises of life with which secretaremos hormones involved in combating pain, such as oxytocin. Physical contact with other people is more important than you may think. A long embrace and give us direction and sense of well make us feel loved and secure, in part by the release of endorphins and dopamine. But also it helps improve the immune system. This has been proved empirically. Sheldon Cohen, a psychology professor and director of the laboratory study of Stress, Immunity and Disease American Carnegie Mellon University analyzed the effect of these displays of affection 404 people. The results of their research, published in Psychological Science few months ago suggest that feel a hug from someone you trust is an effective way to reduce stress, and that those who receive more hugs are some better protected against infections.