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Your happiness and its inextricable link to brain training

Posted by Tilly Stevens on February 12, 2015 at 3:16 PM

brain trainingOur emotions stem from our brains. It makes sense then that how happy we are is reflected within this organ. 

However, realizing just how much our happiness influences our brains (and vice versa) is, ironically enough, mind-blowing.

Interesting, and perhaps somewhat novel research is revealing the neurological reflections our emotions can have. Physical exercise has been proven to contribute significantly to an individual’s happiness with improvements seen in aspects such as personal body perception, even when no physical changes occurred. These benefits are not limited to physical training as brain training works on the same principles. Merely 7 minutes of exercise can make the brain ‘happy’

Every aspect of our lives contributes to this physiological felicity, be it our daily commute or the day’s weather (13.9°C is the happiest temperature, according to scientists). Have you ever felt crabby after a night of sleeplessness? That’s because you are. Specific parts of your brain dedicated to the recollection of positive memories become less active with less sleep. The specific part dedicated to the recollection of negative elements however, does not. That still functions just as proficiently without sleep.

Sleep is not the only relaxing activity proven to effect happiness. Meditation literally clears your mind - 

calming-mind-brain-waves

While you are relaxing, so is your brain. Regular meditation can actually structurally alter our brains and increase feelings of happiness. More than this, parts of the brain associated with stress actually shrink. Embrace the power of ‘om’!

These brain effects can be seen via MRI scans. The development of brain scanning technology over the last couple of decades has enabled neuroscientists to discover the power of our brains to influence behaviours and abilities – from things like happiness to learning. Dr Michael Merzenich, widely regarded as the “father of cognitive neuroscience” and other neuroscientists have used scanning technology to validate the benefits of brain training programs such as Fast ForWord.

 Some of the most neurologically responsive stimulants for happiness are the more personal ones. Consciously experiencing gratitude, interacting with family and friends as well as helping others, all contribute significantly to feelings of happiness. It appears money really doesn’t buy you happiness, with increases in salary proven to deliver less happiness than these more personal elements. Although, one study estimated personal relationships add $100,000 worth of happiness to individuals’ lives. So maybe a price can be placed on happiness.

So happy people have happy brains.  Apparently, if you’re happy and you want to know it, get an MRI!

Information for this Blog has been sourced from an article in the Huffington Post.

 

Was this blog interesting? If so, let others know about it by sharing on social media, or sending the link to a friend or colleague who may find it interesting too.

Not so interesting? Let me know how I can improve by leaving a comment below.

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Topics: Brain Science

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