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What are the three ways to train your brain to be happy?

https://www.bakadesuyo.com/2012/12/train-brain-happy/

bakadesuyo.com

What are the three ways to train your brain to be happy?

You can train your mind to be unhappy and you can train it to be happy.

Training your mind to look for errors and problems (as happens in careers like accounting and law) can lead you toward a pervasive pessimism that carries over into your personal life.

I discovered the tax auditors who are the most successful sometimes are the ones that for eight to 14 hours a day were looking at tax forms, looking for mistakes and errors. This makes them very good at their job, but when they started leading their teams or they went home to their spouse at night, they would be seeing all the lists of mistakes and errors that were around them. Two of them told me they came home with a list of the errors and mistakes that their wife was making. 

Why are lawyers 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression and more likely to end up divorced?

Martin Seligman, psychology professor at UPenn and author of 

Authentic Happiness
, explains they have trained their minds to seek out the bad in life because
pessimists excel at law
:

Pessimism is seen as a plus among lawyers, because seeing troubles as pervasive and permanent is a component of what the law profession deems prudence. A prudent perspective enables a good lawyer to see every conceivable snare and catastrophe that might occur in any transaction. The ability to anticipate the whole range of problems and betrayals that non-lawyers are blind to is highly adaptive for the practicing lawyer who can, by so doing, help his clients defend against these far-fetched eventualities. If you don’t have this prudence to begin with, law school will seek to teach it to you. Unfortunately, though, a trait that makes you good at your profession does not always make you a happy human being.

Is there a way to get your mind out of these negative loops? Yes.

Here’s how.

Three Blessings

You must teach your brain to seek out the good things in life. Research shows merely listing three things you are thankful for each day can make a big difference.

Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking in importance (“My husband picked up my favorite ice cream for dessert on the way home from work today”), but they can be important (“My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy”). Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?”

This technique has been proven 

again
 and 
again
 and 
again
. One of the reasons old people are happier is because 
they remember the good and forget the bad
.

Social Comparison

People probably encourage you to not compare yourself to others. Research shows it’s not necessarily harmful — but only compare yourself 

to those worse off than you
:

“Generally if people compare themselves to those who are worse off, they’re going to feel better,” continues Bauer, now a research associate at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and a clinical psychologist at Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Associates of Toronto. “When they compare themselves to people who are better off, it can make them feel worse.”

Tell Yourself The Right Stories

When your vision of your life story is inadequate, depression can result. Psychotherapists actually help “rewrite” that story and this process is as, if not more, effective than medication.

According to the psychologist Michele Crossley, depression frequently stems from an “incoherent story,” an “inadequate narrative account of oneself,” or “a life story gone awry.” Psychotherapy helps unhappy people set their life stories straight; it literally gives them a story they can live with. And it works.

“Retrospective judgment” means reevaluating events and putting a positive spin on them. Naturally happy people do it automatically, but it’s something you can teach yourself.

Lyubomirsky showed that happy people naturally reinterpret events so that they preserve their self-esteem.

Timothy Wilson, author of 

Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change
, has 
talked about
 how the process of “story-editing” can help us improve our lives:

we prompted students to reinterpret their academic problems from a belief that they couldn’t cut it in college to the view that they simply needed to learn the ropes. The students who got this prompt—compared to a control group that didn’t—got better grades the next year and were less likely to drop out.

And when it comes to the future, be 

optimistic
. Optimism 
can make you happier
.

So, to sum up:

  • Count your blessings
  • Only compare yourself to those worse off than you
  • Tell yourself a positive story about the challenges in your life

What else can make you happier? The things proven to help are

here
.

Join 25K+ readers. Get a free weekly update via email 

here
.

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Key Ideas

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Educate your mind to stop being unhappy

Educate your mind to stop being unhappy

Professions like the ones in accounting and law develop a sense of pessimism in the individuals practicing them. However, being obsessed with prudence at work and continue being like this at home i...

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Remember the good

In order to be happy, you must first train your brain to perceive the good that happens to you.

One way to do this is by writing down three good experiences you live on a daily basis: appr...

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Social comparison

While comparing yourself to others might not be extremely helpful, comparing yourself to people who are in a less good position than you might actually lead to you feeling better.

So, if y...

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Give yourself a story you can live with

Whenever you feel like not being able to escape a state of unhappiness, try practicing the so-called retrospective judgment, which will enable you to reinterpret the events lived in order to find w...

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We all know that Facebook doesn’t provide a very well-rounded picture of people’s lives. It’s more like the cherry-picked perfection version.

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The Problem Is Attention

Looking at social media for happiness is a bad idea. You won’t find it out there. Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention. What you attend to drives your behavior and it determines your happiness. 

Changing behavior and enhancing happiness is as much about withdrawing attention from the negative as it is about attending to the positive.