I long believed that happiness was a long term goal, something to strive for, something you achieve after studying hard, landing a good job, starting a family and settling down in your own home. The American Dream, if you will.
But that’s all nonsense! What it really boils down to is brain chemistry. There are a bunch of neurotransmitters in the brain that trigger feelings of happiness, such as serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins.
I don’t know much about those myself, but I do know that happiness is something you can trigger, almost at will, by tapping into your animal brain. That’s the side of us that craves a hit of satisfaction. It could be a cake, a cigarette, a video game, an impulse purchase, a sexual release, a brush with danger… yeah mostly things that are considered bad for you.
What if you could get small doses of these happiness shots, and even better, turn them into rewards for doing something productive? Would it not make you a happier and more productive person?
The “Makes Me Happy” List
It would be an interesting exercise to make a lists of 10 things that make you happy. Now you can’t put something like “Disneyland” on the list because it’s not Disneyland itself that makes you happy. You’d have to drill down to specific things – is it the music? The smell of caramel popcorn? The rush of a roller coaster?
Next, think about how you could wrap them up into small rewards? Are there (healthier, easier) alternatives that trigger the same feeling? When you finish a task, treat yourself to those happy feelings!
I’ve made my list, and now that I’ve been productive by writing this blog post, I’m going to reward myself with a coffee, a chocolate, some good music, and a social media binge. I couldn’t be happier! 😀If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!