A Scientific Approach to Happiness

Fotuhi Friday Talks: Is There Science Behind our Happiness?

Neurology is my passion, and today, I want to share with you some interesting facts about how you can use your brain power to increase your happiness and quality of life.

Once you grasp these principles, you will begin to appreciate the way your mind works. And when you master the way your own brain works, you will understand the way other people’s minds work.  

We all get frustrated, flustered, anxious, and angry sometimes, and this is only natural. The most important thing you can do is stop to realize what your brain is doing and change that specific pattern.

Your brain health is the most important thing, and once you give it the attention it deserves, you will begin to form more meaningful relationships with everyone around you. 

So let’s jump into these basic principles, and put you on a path to a happier, healthier life. 

Principle #1: 

The Quality of our Life and Happiness Depends on Our Relationships with Others

If the people around us are unhappy, then we become unhappy too.

Our brains want to find a way to make the people around us happier. 

When the people around us are happy that energy makes us happy as well. So be kind to others, ask them how they are doing, and actually mean it. 

Be considerate toward your family members and try to see the world from their point of view. Get to know your coworkers, have meaningful conversations and share laughs. 

Principle #2:

People Do Not Have Bad Intentions

There are a lot of fear-based ideas being spread around the country right now but think of this principle from an evolutionary standpoint. 

We do what we think is best for our “survival.” As humans, we always have. We may not always be right, but our actions are a result of what we think we need to do in order to have a better life for ourselves or our family members.

The things that we do are based on our assumptions of what needs to be done on any given day. 

Principle #3:

Take Responsibility for Your Own Actions

You are responsible for the actions you take. Period. 

For example, you can’t say my spouse was rude to me today, and that is why I am so grumpy.

You are so grumpy because you are choosing to be, no one else can make you act a certain way.

You are the one that hits the gas pedal and chooses to run smooth or fast. 

When someone says something that bothers you, it is not what they say that bothers you, but it is your interpretation of what they meant that bothers you.

The best example here lies in Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia area. You probably sit in traffic every day on the way to work. 

If you get angry while sitting in traffic, it is because your interpretation is that there should be no traffic even though you live near the Nation’s Capital. You can’t blame other drivers for the fact that you are late to your appointment.

Question your interpretations, you can’t say the traffic made me angry, you need to take responsibility for how you feel and how you react. If you don’t like traffic, you should consider living in suburbs.

Principle #4:

For every Action, there is a Reaction

Somethings makes you upset, and you show that you are unhappy instead of accepting reality as it is. Your unhappy face and negative attitude annoy other people, which in turn makes them react negatively toward you. And this, of course, creates more unhappiness for you. 

To avoid this downhill spiral, it is essential to press the pause button when something upsets you.

You have to consider that it is not what someone said or what has happened that makes you feel bad, but it is your interpretation of the situation that has made you feel the way you do. 

There are two parts of the brain that help you make decisions. In your frontal lobe, you make decisions based on logic. While your limbic system is the emotional part of your mind. 

Most of the time, your frontal lobe has control of your limbic system, and you can use it as a tool to press the pause button. 

When something terrible happens, you have to ask yourself what will be the consequence of my reaction and is that consequence what I want.

So again we go back to the Washington DC traffic problem. If you realize that getting angry in traffic does not solve any issues (and never will), then you can say okay maybe instead of being frustrated I can take this time to listen to a podcast, or learn a second language. 

You could also call an old friend, or listen to some calming music. You are the one who has the agency to choose an outcome with a better consequence. 

This ties back into your relationships as well. If your spouse says “why are you late again” you can respond with “I am sorry; it has been a long day. Let’s get some dinner and relax, I love you;” rather than “because I was at work and I am not that late anyway.”

You Have Free Will

Your pause button can grant you the time to think about three or four different reactions for each event that happens to you; so try to pause and choose the reaction with the best outcome. 

That is the secret sauce- you have the free will to be happy or to be unhappy.

Your brain has an incredible mechanism of using logic to control emotions.

Remember- the quality of our lives depends on our relations with those around us, people don’t have bad intentions, and we need to take responsibility for our actions and reactions. 

When we understand this about our brains, then we can start to have better relationships, and love the things that surround our lives. 

If you need help strengthening your brain or finding a way to reduce your stress, it may be a good idea to talk with a neurologist that can help.

Looking for more brain tips on how you can improve your brain performance? Check out this awesome Fotuhi Friday blog on what causes memory loss

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