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5 Surefire Ways to Maximize Your Happiness

5 Surefire Ways to Maximize Your Happiness

You lead a busy life.

There’s always work to do. Bills to pay. Meetings to attend. Kids to take to soccer practice.

It’s no surprise you barely have time to recognize whether or not you’re actually happy.

Sure, you might have a loving family, beautiful house, great job, and a new car. But, surprisingly, those things only account for about 10% of your overall happiness. While 50% of it is genetically determined, 40% of your happiness depends directly on yourself.

In other words, most of your happiness comes from the way in which you approach the world, and your life in general. Your happy place is a state of mind – and it’s up to you to bring it with you wherever you go.

Get Into Shape

The foundation of Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs refers to a person’s physiological necessities. If you’re not eating well, drinking enough water, getting the nutrients you need, or getting enough sleep, you simply won’t have the energy to be happy.

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Exercise is also a great way to improve your happiness by improving your health. Exercising regularly helps regulate your body’s cortisol levels, resulting in stress reduction. Furthermore, physical activity increases your endorphin levels, as well – reducing feelings of pain and anxiety.

As an added bonus, the better you feel about yourself physically, the better you’ll feel about yourself mentally. Whether your regular exercise results in lost weight, larger muscles, or higher stamina, you’ll undoubtedly feel more confident and able as your physical stature improves.

Engage In Your Hobbies

This sounds pretty obvious, right? Doing what you love will make you happy simply because you love doing it.

While that may be true, we too often go through the motions of our favorite activities without actually engaging with them.

When we’re out on the golf course, we’re really thinking of all the work we have to do when we get home.

When we’re out fishing, we’re constantly checking our phones to make sure we have service in case there’s an emergency.

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When we sit down to read a book, we can barely concentrate on the words on the page because we know there are a million other things we should be doing.

By getting distracted so easily, we prevent ourselves from getting into a flow state. Instead of truly experiencing our favorite pastimes for what they are, we passively live through them, knowing the “real world” awaits once we’re finished.

By focusing only on one activity at a time, we optimize our chances of reaching a Zen-like state in which we are truly at peace with the world, and ourselves.

Expand Your Horizons

Along with engaging in your hobbies, you should always be on the lookout for new experiences, as well.

Not only might you discover a new pastime you really enjoy, but you might meet new friends who will change the course of your entire life. As mentioned, the majority of your happiness won’t come from other people – but the point here is, by engaging in enjoyable hobbies with others, the whole group shares their happiness with each other.

You also might make connections that change not only your life, but the lives of many others, as well. There are plenty of opportunities for you to give back to your community and support those who may be less fortunate than you are. Perhaps one of the most noble and rewarding undertakings a person can engage in is a selfless act that benefits those who he may never actually meet.

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Don’t Overlook the Small Stuff

You’ve likely heard the saying “don’t sweat the small stuff” before. And there’s definitely merit to that motto: Don’t let the annoyances in life that don’t really matter negatively affect you.

But when it comes to the small beauties in life, you should pay attention to as many of them as possible.

Remember what it was like to be a kid during the first snowfall of the year? Many of us have locked that child-like sense of wonder away somewhere in our minds, choosing to adopt a “strictly business” persona instead.

You should never be afraid to let your guard down and appreciate the smell of fresh-growing flowers, or the sound of birds singing to their mate.

These phenomena may not seem as magical as they did when you were a child, but if you let go for a moment, you can hope to regain that feeling of amazement that has eluded you over the years.

Live in the Moment

This sounds like the ultimate cliche, but it’s a little more than the run-of-the-mill yearbook quote.

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The fact is, every moment we live on Earth is fleeting. Happiness isn’t something that, once attained, will never go away. Ironically, the sooner you accept this, the more generally happy you’ll be.

It’s human nature to never want good feelings to go away. But think about it: If feelings of elation never went away, how would you know when you were feeling good? You’d likely pass by some of the more incredible moments in your life simply because you weren’t aware of how incredible they were.

On the other hand, if you always expect to be happy, you’ll be even more devastated when things go wrong. Instead of realizing that – like the good times – bad moments are just as fleeting, you’ll feel as if you’ll never get out of the spiral you’ve gotten caught in. Though happiness and good times are fleeting, depression can stick around for much longer – if you let it.

Adopting a sense of learned optimism will allow you to appreciate each moment you live through – good or bad – knowing that each passing moment builds upon who you are as a person.

Featured photo credit: Flickr / Happiness / Kirstin via farm8.staticflickr.com

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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