DAY 29: Happiness is Reality Minus Expectations
Day 29 Self Reflection:
On Day 29 of your workbook, fill out a personal “life checklist” to explore future goals and hopefully future outcomes.
Day 29 Micro-Science: Hedonic Adaptation
Advertisers would like you to believe that is possible to be “happy” all the time and are very wiling to sell you whatever product you want to make that happen. The brain, however, isn’t programmed to stay at “super happy” levels. The brain is programmed to help you survive and the best way it can do that is to keep you on edge and bring you back down from “happiness” levels very quickly. The brain seems to keep us on a “hedonic treadmill,” where we have to keep moving in order to stay in the same place. This is one of the reasons kids get sick of the “amazing” toy they got at Christmas within a few weeks and people who are millionaires want to be billionaires. It is very hard to keep the brain “happy” and the best we can really hope for is to “feel okay” as much as possible. This isn’t the most optimistic news, but at least it can help you feel more secure in the fact that life isn’t always going to be rainbows and puppies.
FACT: When your brain gets a big release of dopamine(feel good chemical) it automatically releases CRH (corticotropin releasing horomone) to counteract dopamine’s effect and bring you back down to baseline in order to keep you motivated to go find the next batch of pleasure.
TAKEAWAY:T he brain does this in order to keep you from feeling to satiated, so that you keep alive and “hungry,” always looking for your next meal. What this means for happiness is that its really impossible to maintain for a long period of time.
Day 29: Polaroid Meditation
Since the brain is so good at visualizing the potential crap could befall a person, sometimes you have to prime it with some of the good stuff to counteract it. Thinking back of positive memories and the times you are grateful for is the best way to do this. This priming of positive information creates greater bloodflow to the regions of your brain that focus on positive thinking. This then creates a positive feedback loop, making it more likely more blood with flow there and with it more positive memories.
FACT: Research has shown that an individuals subjective well being is 60% decided by their genetics, but there are some ways to increase that number, gratefulness being the one that does it the most effectively
TAKEAWAY: Your brain naturally takes a pretty negative view of your surroundings in order to protect itself. So do yourself and your brain a favor by reminding it from time to time that good things have happened and will most likely happen again if you get in the right mindset. By creating blood flow to the “positive emotions” center of your brain, your priming your brain to see other “positives” in your day.l
Day 29 Meditation: For today’s meditation the goal is to remind yourself of all thats gone right in your life. So set a timer for five or ten minutes, then let your mind wander back to when you were really young and start to remember visual scenes from your childhood to current day when life was going your way. It could be people that have influenced you, places you have traveled, or just positive emotions that have come into your life over the years. Try to make a “polaroid” of each instance, let it stay in your mind for a few seconds and then move onto the next until you reach the present day.
Day 29 Movement Task: Reach out to an Old Friend
Social media is suppose to help us expand our “network,” but most of the time it just seems to separate us even further. Selectively posting only the highlight wheel of our lives we end up distancing others who think they know what is going, but in reality have no idea. We connect with people when we have authentic relationships and only seeing a small glimpse into someone’s live through the online world feels lack it lacks in sincerity. Life is hard and social media tends not to show that part. I’m not saying go online and share too much of your personal life, however. What I am advocating for is to reach out to those your trust and share openly. If you do that, it gives them permission to do the same and you both can take a break from the synthetic version of life presented online.
FACT: Before the mind and body goes into flight or flight mode it always searches for support first. If that support isn’t readily available the fight or flight mode kicks into gear.
TAKEAWAY: For instance, if your in a restaurant with five of your closest friends are around and your sworn enemy is approaching at full speed the first thing you will do is look to your friends for backup. If it was just you alone, then the fight or flight stage happens much quicker. The takeaway then is keep a solid support system at all times and you’ll be able to avoid a whole lot of stress.
Day 29 Movement Task: For today’s action task phone or reach out to a friend that you have lost contact with.
Day 29 Bonus Material:
#1) Ted Talk: Emotional Intelligence: Using the Laws of Attraction:
Check out this Ted Talk by Dan Gilbert about the surprising ways science has discovered to make people happy. I’ll give you a hint… its not about how much money you make or how good looking you are.
#2) Ted Ed: What is depression
Depression is one of the most mis-understand ailments in the world. This awesome Ted Ed looks at the ins and outs of what depression is and some helpful hints on how to overcome it.
#3) Johann Hari: The Antidote for Loneliness
From the author of Lost Connections comes an insightful look into ways to combat loneliness and establish a solid foundation to recovery from depression.
#4) Are We Looking for Happiness in the Wrong Place?
Check out this short video looking at the misconceptions American’s have about what “happiness” is and where to find it.