Read and Listen: How Brain Power and Focus Make You Happier
It is common in self-help literature to hear that being more confident, believing in yourself, and regularly thinking positive thoughts can all help you to feel happier, and to even influence your life in a positive way.
But here’s another factor you might not have considered: brainpower.
Did you know that mental focus, creativity, sharpness, and more can help to make you happier and even luckier?
Those who are more positive and happy tend to notice opportunities more because they are less stressed.
But by the same token you could notice even more opportunities by being more alert and switched on.
Likewise, effective use of CBT requires mental discipline which in turn needs energy and focus.
On top of this, you also need to ensure your brain is just loaded with energy and that it’s functioning better.
If you’re groggy and easily distracted you won’t be able to exert the necessary discipline to change those negative thoughts.
So how do you boost your brain power?
A Quick Guide to Upgrading Your Brain.
One way to quickly upgrade your brain is to give it more energy.
We’ve seen how sleep can help with this but you can also do it through the right diet and supplementation.
Omega 3 fatty acids for instance help to improve brain cell permeability which in turn aids rapid communication and thus brain power.
Similarly, studies have shown that creatine – a supplement that athletes use to increase cellular energy – is capable of improving focus and IQ.
Brain training ‘games’ haven’t been conclusively shown to work with the exception of the ‘Dual N-Back’ test which can increase ‘working memory’ and thus pattern recognition – critical for seeing and noticing those opportunities.
Most important of all though is to learn how to get into a ‘flow state’ which is that mental state where everything just seems effortless.
In this situation your brain floods itself with the neurotransmitters dopamine, anandamide and norepinephrine which work together to further enhance pattern recognition, reflexes, attention and creativity.
How to trigger these flow states?
You convince your brain that what you are doing is hugely important.
And you can achieve this through the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (which you now understand) as well as by simply being highly passionate about what you do – by loving your job and your partner.
People who love what they do are happier, more focused and much happier.
More Ways to Increase Your Happiness to Change Your Life.
How can you increase your happiness?
Of course improving the circumstances surrounding your life can do this to a great extent but that’s easier said than done.
What else can you do?
Luckily there are once again a few options available to you and a few ‘hacks’ that can actually greatly boost your mood and your health.
Bear in mind that health and happiness are very closely linked.
One of the biggest regulators of our mood is the weather and even if you don’t have ‘seasonal affective disorder’, you’re likely to have much more energy, and to be much happier when it’s sunny.
If you live somewhere that’s dark in winter though, you can ‘hack’ the effect that the sun has on your brain.
One way to do this is with a ‘daylight lamp’ which creates light in your home that has the same wavelength of the sun.
If you get one with a built-in alarm, you can get it to wake you up with a pleasing effect similar to a sunrise.
You will start every day feeling healthier and more energetic.
Improving your sleep is crucial for your mental health and happiness.
Make sure that you are getting lots of healthy sleep by taking time to wind down in the evening, avoiding caffeine and having a hot shower before bed.
Make sure your room is perfectly dark also.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this aspect – it is critical for your mood and performance the next day.
Exercise is also very important for your mood.
Not only will this improve your health, thereby getting more energy to your brain and thus keeping you happy, but it will also stimulate the production of endorphins that make you feel much happier, and much luckier.
Generally it can also help to streamline your lifestyle and to remove as many stressors as you can – whether that means having less clutter in your rooms (this makes a huge difference) or it means using systems to automate some of your jobs.
One of the most powerful ways to transform your happiness though is to change what you focus on.
You can have objectively the best life in the world, but if you only focus on what is missing, you will never be happy!
Instead then, learn to focus on the good by spending time every day writing down things you are grateful for, things you have done well, and things you are excited about.
This one is truly game-changing.