Research shows that happy people solve more problems and come up with more ideas. The search for happiness is perhaps really a search for the right levels of dopamine.
To create a 'happy' life, perhaps we should live a life with a good amount of novelty, create opportunities for unexpected rewards, and have a positive outlook.
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Unmet expectations, no matter how small or unimportant, are enough to put us off. Brain research on expectations shows that dopamine cells in the brain fire off in anticipation of primary rewards. When a cue from the environment indicates that you will get a reward, dopamine releases in response.
But if you're expecting a reward and you don't get it, dopamine levels fall drastically. This feeling is akin to pain. Expecting a pay rise and not getting one can create a funk that lasts for days.
Good levels of dopamine in your prefrontal cortex are critical for focusing.
Positive expectations increase dopamine levels in the brain, and these increased levels make you more able to focus. Teachers know that children learn best when they are interested in a subject. That interest, desire, and positive expectations are variations of the increased level of dopamine in the brain.
Whether you want to be happy or improve your performance at work, it would be useful to improve how you manage expectations to create the right dopamine levels.
Morning Phototherapy involves exposure to bright light upon awakening. It helps to increase morning alertness and advances the sleep phase in the evening. An inexpensive way to get exposure to bright light (depending on weather conditions, the location and season of the year) is to open the window shades or take a walk in the bright morning sun. Alternatively a specially designed bright light box may be prescribed. These boxes provide between 2,500 and 10,000 lux . Depending on the brightness level, they are used for periods of 30 min to 2 hours. Precise timing of use is critical and is related to the core body temperature minimum. The light is administered about 30 minutes earlier every other day to help gradually advance evening sleep onset. This treatment can be effective in 2 to 3 weeks when combined with evening light avoidance, but often requires ongoing treatment to maintain gains.
Overt Social Curiosity
Covert Social Curiosity
Self-directed laughter helps maintain positive mental health during stressful times, diffuses a tense situation, and brings the focus back to what's more important.
Psychologists call laughing at oneself, “self-directed laughter” - having insight while still having a sense of self-acceptance. Laughing at yourself is good for your wellbeing if you can: