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Last Updated on June 13, 2019

How to Have Happy Thoughts and Train Your Brain to Be Happy

How to Have Happy Thoughts and Train Your Brain to Be Happy

Does your brain produce unhappy or happy thoughts?

Sometimes we think it’s our genes that make us the kind of person we are. However, that’s not the whole story. Often we are so preoccupied with the status quo that we forget we have the power to become the person we want to be.

If happiness is what you’re after, know that by training your brain you can program your mind to make you happy. And let’s face it, who is not looking to be happy?

Here’s how you can start instilling happy thoughts in your brain:

1. You choose how happy you are.

How? By the type of thoughts you make. Positive thoughts make you happy, while negative thoughts make you unhappy.

“I’m so fat.” – That’s a negative thought that makes you feel helpless.

“I will never achieve this.” – Another negative thought.

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“I like spending time with my spouse.” – A positive thought that brings you good feelings.

“Let’s go on vacation, babe!” – Now that’s excitement! Happiness is here!

So far so good.  But how can you produce more positive thoughts so that you’re happier?

2. You CAN train your brain to think happy thoughts.

By training your brain to think more positively than negatively, you’ll become happier. Here’s an example:

Have you noticed how some people feel bad about themselves when someone criticizes them, while others never seem to care?

What most people don’t know is that how you react to criticism is a habit – a thinking habit.

Some people habitually take it personally and feel unhappy, while others are habitually indifferent and keep being happy.

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That isn’t true just about criticism. It’s true about everything: how you react to compliments; how you react to bad drivers; how you react when you feel threatened or taken advantage of.

By actively choosing different thoughts, you can reinforce the habit of thinking positively and decrease the habit of thinking negatively.

But what about occasions that are indeed negative? Does this mean you should deny the truth and wear rose-colored glasses? No.

3. You can think positive and still be realistic.

Some people equate “thinking positively” as wearing rose-colored glasses. That’s not what I am suggesting.

“I’m so unfit” – a negative thought that brings in bad feelings.

“I’m so unfit but I am now exercising and I’m getting fitter every day!” – started out as a negative thought, but got twisted into a positive thought. The result? One step closer to happiness!

You see, the word “but” is magical: it keeps your thoughts realistic, but they no longer make you unhappy!

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4. Add a “but” to turn your unhappiness into happiness.

If you could just add a harmless “but” to every negative thought you produced, you could transform all negative thoughts into positive ones.

The result? You could transform all your unhappiness into happiness! A few examples:

  • “I feel like will never lose weight” becomes “I feel like I will never lose weight, but I know there are other people who used to be exactly like me and made it happen!”
  • “I will never find love” becomes “I will never find love if I keep staying at home just like I am right now. But if I start going out more, my luck might change.”
  • “I will never pay off this debt” becomes “I will never pay off this debt, but I could pay some of it if I start saving $100 more every month.”

See how powerful the word “but” is? It’s like having a happiness magic wand!

5. The more you get used to adding a “but,” the better happiness results you get.

At first you’ll need practice. Adding a “but” to your negative thoughts does not come naturally when you’re just starting out.

However, the more you do it, the more your brain creates neural pathways that build the habit of thinking “but” automatically every time you think negatively.

This “but” technique will literally change the structure of your brain and elevate your happiness level dramatically. Being happy can be that easy.

6. Stop making meaningless affirmations.

Many people try to jump to the happy thought directly from the unhappy thought. So instead of thinking “I’m so unfit, but I am now exercising and I’m getting fitter every day,” they’ll think “I’m fit”. They jumped from “I’m so unfit” to “I’m fit”.

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The problem is that usually those affirmations and “happy thoughts” are not really happy thoughts. They instead make you unhappy. Why? Because you don’t believe them.

If you believe you’re unfit, you cannot fool yourself into believing you are fit. However, you can believe that you can get fit.

And that’s why the “but” technique works so marvelously. Just like the “what if” technique, it accepts where you are, but shows you the road ahead.

Identify your negative thought that you can turn into a positive one with the simple use of a “but” now. Today is the day you can start training your brain to be happy!

More About Positive Thinking

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Maria Brilaki

Maria helps people create habits that stick not just for a month or two but for years and decades.

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Last Updated on October 17, 2019

How to Spend More Quality Time with Your Partner

How to Spend More Quality Time with Your Partner

You see your partner every single day. They are the first person you talk to in the morning and the last person you kiss goodnight.

But does seeing each other day in and day out equal a healthy relationship? Not necessarily.

Spending quality time with your partner is the best way to ensure your relationship stays healthy and strong. This means going above and beyond sitting together while you watch Netflix or going out for the occasional dinner. You deserve more from your relationship – and so does your spouse!

What does quality time mean? It means spending time with your spouse without interruption. It’s a chance for you to come together and talk. Communication will build emotional intimacy and trust.

Quality time is also about expressing love in a physical way. Not sex, necessarily (but that’s great, too!) but through hand-holding, cuddling, caressing, and tickling. Studies show that these displays of affection will boost partner satisfaction.[1]

So how do you spend quality time with your partner? Here are 13 relationship tips on making the most out of your time with your partner.

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1. Recognize the Signs

If you want a healthy relationship, you have to learn how to recognize the signs that you need to spend more quality time together.

Some telltale signs include:

  • You’re always on your phones.
  • You value friendships or hobbies over quality time with your spouse.
  • You aren’t together during important events.
  • You are arguing more often or lack connection.
  • You don’t make plans or date nights.
  • You’re not happy.

If you are experiencing any of these relationship symptoms, know that quality time together can reverse the negative effects of the signs above.

2. Try New Things Together

Have you ever wanted to learn how to play an instrument or speak another language? How about skydive or ballroom dance?

Instead of viewing these as solo hobbies and interests, why not involve your partner?

Trying new activities together builds healthy relationships because it encourages spouses to rely on one another for emotional and physical support.

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Shared hobbies also promote marital friendship, and the Journal of Happiness Studies found that marital satisfaction was twice as high for couples who viewed each other as best friends.[2]

3. Schedule in Tech-Free Time

Your phone is a great way to listen to music, watch videos, and keep up-to-date with friends and family. But is your phone good for your relationship?

Many couples phone snub, or ‘phub’, one another. Studies show that phubbing can lower relationship satisfaction and increase one’s chances of depression.[3]

Reduce those chances by removing distractions when spending quality time together and showing your partner they have your full attention.

4. Hit the Gym as a Couple

One way you can spend more time together as a couple is by becoming workout partners. Studies show that couples are more likely to stay with their exercise routine if they work out together.[4] Couples also work out harder than they would solo. One study found that 95 percent of couples who work out together maintained weight loss compares to the 66 percent of singles who did.[5]

Join a gym, do at-home couples’ workouts, try couples yoga, hit the hiking trails, or get your bikes out. No matter which way you choose to exercise, these healthy activities can promote a healthy relationship.

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5. Cook Meals Together

Pop open a bottle of wine or put some romantic music on while you get busy – in the kitchen, of course!

One of the best relationship tips for spending quality time together when you both have busy schedules is to cook meals together.[6]

Spice things up and try and prepare a four-course meal or a fancy French dish together. Not only is this a fun way to spend your time together, but it also promotes teamwork.

If all goes well, you’ll have a romantic date night meal at home that you prepared with your four hands. And if the food didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped, you are guaranteed to have a laugh and create new memories together.

6. Have a Regular Date Night

Couples experience a greater sense of happiness and less stress when they are spending quality time together.[7] One of the biggest relationship tips for a healthy partnership is to include a date night in your weekly routine.

The National Marriage Project found that having a weekly date night can make your relationship seem more exciting and helps prevent relationship boredom.[8] It also lowers the probability of divorce, improves your sex life, and increases healthy communication.

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Some great ideas for what to do on your date night include:

  • Have a movie marathon – Gather up your favorite flicks and cuddle up on the couch.
  • Play games together – Cards, board games, video games, and other creative outlets are a fun way to spend quality time together.
  • Recreate your first date – Go back to that restaurant and order the same meal you did when you first got together. You can spice up your evening by pretending you’re strangers meeting for the first time and see how sexy the night gets.
  • Plan a weekend getaway – There’s nothing better than traveling with the one you love.
  • Dinner and a movie – A classic!
  • Try a new restaurant – Make it your mission to rate and try all of the Mexican restaurants/Irish pubs/Italian trattorias in your area.
  • Have a long sex session – Intimacy promotes the release of the oxytocin hormone which is responsible for a myriad of great feelings.[9]

Here’re even more date night ideas for your reference: 50 Unique and Really Fun Date Ideas for Couples

Final Thoughts

The benefits of spending quality time together are endless. Here are just some of the ways it can contribute to a healthy relationship:

  • Improves emotional and physical intimacy
  • Lowers divorce rates
  • Improves communication
  • Reduces marital boredom
  • Bonds couples closer
  • Improves friendship
  • Boosts health
  • Reduces stress

These are all excellent reasons to start making date night a regular part of your week.

It’s easy to have a healthy relationship when you set aside dedicated time to share with your spouse. Try new things together, make your spouse your workout buddy, and look for innovative ways to be close and connected.

These relationship tips will bring great benefits to your marriage.

Featured photo credit: Allen Taylor via unsplash.com

Reference

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