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How to Increase Your Happiness | Positive Psychology Practices to Upregulate Helpful Brain Chemicals

Serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin are hormones that can regulate your mood and increase happy feelings. You can increase or upregulate these helpful brain chemicals by engaging in the positive psychology practices listed below. The links will send you to research and additional articles supporting these practices.

How to Increase Your Happiness and Upregulate Helpful Brain Chemicals

Focus on gratitude and appreciation: Write a daily list of everything in your life that you are grateful for. This will help you to shift out of scarcity thinking, and into a more resourced, abundant, and balanced perspective.

Learn more about the science of gratitude here.

Reflect on an intensely positive experience: Write about your most vivid memory of an intensely positive experience. Write for at least 5 minutes, and try to get into as much detail as possible. This, along with gratitude practices can help to upregulate positive feelings and emotions.

Focus on strength and resilience: Every evening, make a list of your successes for the day (no matter how big or small), as well as a list of your strengths and how you will be able to use them on the following day. If nothing comes to mind, write about a major or minor obstacle you faced in the past, and how you were able to overcome it.

Savoring and present moment awareness: Being in the present moment and appreciating the simple joys of life can increase your sense of happiness. Focus on small things, like the flavor of your coffee, the sound of a bird chirping, the comfort of your bed, or listening to your favorite music. Slow down and notice the sensations of this experience, letting yourself enjoy these small daily pleasures.

Learn how to address anger, and symptoms of anxiety and panic.

Get out of your head and into your body: Overthinking or negative thinking often means that we are dissociating, or disconnected from the body. This usually coincides with not breathing properly, not having good posture, or having a sedentary lifestyle, which can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Daily exercise, a long walk, or breathing practices will help you to quiet your mind and connect with the power in your body.

Explore 5-minute meditation and breathing practices here.

Express your thoughts and feelings: Find a healthy and accessible outlet for your thoughts and feelings so they don't build up inside. Imagine that you are externalizing and releasing your thoughts through exercise, journaling, creating artwork, or while talking to a trusted friend or therapist as a form of catharsis.

Be of service to someone in need: Charitable acts are beneficial to the greater good of society and will help you to experience more meaning and purpose in your life.

Forest bathing: Spending at least 20 minutes in nature will help you to reset your cortisol level and increase positive emotions. Exposure to sunlight can also help to regulate your mood.

Learn about seasonal affective disorder and how to deal with the winter blues.

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