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5 Ways To Bring Happiness and Fulfillment Into Your Life

5 Ways To Bring Happiness and Fulfillment Into Your Life

The purpose of our entire life could be summed up into one accurate word — happiness. Why you’ve not found happiness may be unexplainable, but finding and unlocking the secret to true and lasting happiness is a duty we all owe ourselves. According to research, only one in three Americans say they are very happy.

Fulfillment in life will always bring happiness, but how do you attain fulfillment? This article will be sharing ways to stay happy and fulfilled.

1. Remind yourself of things that make you happy

For many of us, some of the things and people in our lives are what makes us happy. It could be the smile on the face of a loved one or the conversations you have with your significant other. This makes it possible for you to look within your circle to find the happiness that you seek. Reminding yourself that you have these beautiful people in your life will keep you fulfilled when you’re experiencing depression and letdown. Depression particularly depletes your energy and focus – leading many people to make mistakes that often cost them their loved ones.

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“Depressed drivers are most prone to road accidents,” says Jimmy Doan, a Houston accident truck lawyer. He has handled a lot of cases involving truck accidents (the accident type that takes the most lives on American roads), and he believes depression is one of the leading causes of accidents involving truck drivers.

Being able to find a way to fight depression and keep your mood light always will help you avoid a lot of human-errors and stay fulfilled. Keeping your mind on the joy that your loved ones bring you is certainly one of the best ways to stay happy and fulfilled.

2. Keep your focus on your life goals

People often get depressed when they stop focusing on their main goals and let distractions occupy their minds. Realizing that you can achieve your goals and make whatever dream you set your mind on become a reality, will help you stay fulfilled.

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Experts recommend celebrating every little wins on your way to success. This means you should stop beating yourself up whenever you think you’ve not achieved your goals, but to take time and celebrate the small steps you’ve successfully completed. Keeping your focus on your life goals and celebrating every little win will help you stay happier and fulfilled.

3. Only spend time with people that make your happy

The people we surround ourselves with can impact our mood significantly. This means you have to cut off communications with those that constantly let you down by injecting negativity into your life.

It’s true that you can’t make everybody happy. That said, you can’t be friends with everyone either. Only spend time with those people in your life that go out of their way to make you happy, and you’ll see how much your mood improves. Spending time with positive minded people is key to fulfillment and happiness.

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4. Seek the happiness of others

When we go out of our way to make others happy, the positive effect rubs off on us. According to a Harvard research, doing things that make other people happy such as spending money on them will always have a positive effect on our happiness.

Just make time out of your day and take someone out for a cup of coffee. This will have more impact on your entire day than you imagine.

5. Stop taking yourself too seriously

Do you often find that you criticize yourself too much? We’re humans and that means we will make a couple of mistakes every now and then. That doesn’t mean you should spend time wishing you had done things differently. Rather look at the fun side of it and make fun of yourself. Not taking yourself too seriously can help you fight stress and keep you in a lighter mood.

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Staying happy and fulfilled always is not out of reach for anyone. We only need to discover the things we could do to help us stay happy and spend more time doing these things.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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