Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on December 16, 2020

Little Things You Do Can Keep You In A Good Mood All The Time

Little Things You Do Can Keep You In A Good Mood All The Time

Sometimes life passes us by so fast that it feels as though we are sitting in a train with our life sliding by like the scenery outside the window. With our busy schedules we tend to rush from obligation to obligation. Some days, we enter our office while it is dark in the morning, and don’t leave until it is dark outside again at night. We can start to feel like we are in a rut, and our life is being determined by others. We feel like we have no choice but to oblige the guidelines others set for us.

However, there are a number of things we can do to find the silver lining in our days. We can make small changes and practice self-care through nurturing habits. By cultivating good habits, we show our love and respect for ourselves throughout the day, and these little details can keep us in a good mood all the time.

1. Have enough sleep

Sleep deprivation causes us to be foggy-headed and unable to make good decisions in the short term. And in the long run it has a slew of bad effects on our health. Sleeping enough keeps us in a good mood and keeps our spirits high. As a bonus, you can make sure that you have an enjoyable bedtime routine.

Advertising

2. Exercise

Exercise gives us a rush of endorphins, and as such, gives a boost to our good mood. Besides, we know that exercising is an essential element of self-care. So pull out your yoga mat, tie up your running shoes or pump some iron—whatever works for you and feels good for your body!

3. Drink enough water

Avoid getting dehydrated, especially when you drink a lot of coffee in the office. Bring a big mug and fill it at the water fountain, or bring a few big bottles of water with you to the office. Sip throughout the day, and you might notice you get fewer headaches!

4. Keep a diary

Learn from your experiences in life by analyzing them in a diary. Use your journal as a place where you can dump whatever is going on in your mind. As nobody reads your diary, writing everything down can have the same effect as pouring out your heart to a therapist. Get it out, and you feel instantly better!

Advertising

5. Eat fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are packed with nutrients and vitamins, and will keep your body healthy. Moreover, fruits are light sources of energy. Fried fast foods can make you feel heavy and sunken into the ground, whereas fruits and vegetables make you feel energized and can contribute to a good mood.

6. Love

We are beings destined to love. Have you noticed in how many ancient religions the god or goddess of love was one of the principal players, and how in one of today’s major religions the deity is often seen as the lord of love? Love is essential to humanity. Infuse your actions with love, and you will increase your vibrations and mood.

7. Be thankful

This one ties back to keeping a diary. You can keep a gratitude list in your diary, so that you focus on the positive events in your life. By highlighting the things you feel grateful for in your everyday life, you will realize what you love about your life, be able to reinforce it, and keep pumping up your mood.

Advertising

8. Keep variety in your life

Nothing is as much of a bummer to your mood as always following the same routine. Spice things up a bit. Try out something new every weekend. Visit places and neighborhoods in your city where you’ve never been before. Cook up a dish you have never eaten, maybe from a country you have never visited. The possibilities are endless, and they will all bring a smile to your face and boost your mood.

9. Wear clothes you love

Regardless of where you go, who you are going to see and what you are going to do, dress to look and be your best self. Whenever you see yourself in the window or mirror, you’ll notice the effort you made in the morning, and you’ll instantly lift your mood.

10. Use essential oils that you enjoy

Take a little bottle with a mixture of your favorite essential oils dissolved in some sweet almond oil and demineralized water wherever you go, and spray this mixture on your wrists whenever you need a little pick-me-up. Use a burner in your house to diffuse a scent you love, and pump your mood.

Advertising

11. Disconnect from the internet after a certain time at night

Give yourself a curfew for the internet. It’s so easy to get sucked into the internet for hours on end—even cutting into sleep time—but it can leave us drained and feeling worn out. Instead, use a curfew time in the evening, and do something truly nourishing and relaxing afterwards. You’ll sleep better, wake up feeling better and increase your positive mood overall.

12. Learn something new every day

Just like your body needs wholesome food to be fueled, your brain needs continued challenges to keep on evolving. To tickle your brain on a daily basis, make sure you learn something new every day. Start learning a new language, watch inspiring TED talks, solve a riddle—just make sure you use your brain every day. You’ll feel invigorated, you’ll feel that you are continuously growing, and this will elevate your mood.

Featured photo credit: dusan jovic via unsplash.com

More by this author

Eva Lantsoght

Eva is a university professor and a professional structural engineer. She writes about achieving excellence and success in life on Lifehack.

Little Things You Do Can Keep You In A Good Mood All The Time 20 Ways to Strive for Excellence in Life 11 Ways Busy People Make Time To Read Why Working Too Hard Could Be Bad For Your Career 10 Ways to Instantly Reduce Stress at Work

Trending in Staying Motivated

1 How to Hack the Reward System in Your Brain And Stay Motivated 2 Giving up Is Not an Option! How to Not Give up and Stay Motivated 3 How to Feel Inspired When You’ve Lost Motivation 4 How To Bounce Back From a Failure At Work 5 What to Do If You Don’t Want to Do Anything

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on February 17, 2021

How to Hack the Reward System in Your Brain And Stay Motivated

How to Hack the Reward System in Your Brain And Stay Motivated

How do we achieve our biggest goals in life? Hard work, learning new skills, and staying focused are definitely important things, but one of the most important things we need is motivation. Losing motivation can stop us in our tracks. It can make us procrastinate, doubt our skills and abilities, and take us off the path to success. In the worst cases, a lack of motivation can destroy our goals and kill our dreams.

Where does motivation come from?

It starts with thoughts and chemicals in the reward systems in our brains. It continues to develop in our brains and is further shaped by our behaviors. This is why neuroscience, which is the study of the function of the brain, is so important.

When we understand the basics of neuroscience, we can hack the reward system in our brains so we can stay motivated to achieve our biggest goals.

The Neuroscience of Motivation

At the most basic level, humans want to avoid pain and experience pleasure. Our pleasure-seeking behavior is based on a mental reward system that’s controlled by our brains. This reward system is what keeps us motivated and helps us achieve our biggest goals and dreams.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in our brains that help shape our thoughts and behaviors. One of the main neurotransmitters in our reward system is the “pleasure” chemical dopamine. Dopamine is produced mainly in the mid-brain and then moves to other areas of the brain, such as the amygdala, which plays a big role in our emotional development. It also moves to the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for thinking, feeling, planning, and taking action.[1]

When you do something pleasurable, your brain releases dopamine to make you feel good mentally and physically. This commonly happens when we eat our favorite foods, have sex, have a great conversation with someone, or do something else we really enjoy. Each time we feel pleasure from doing something, our brains remember what made us feel good. It actually assigns a reward value for everything we do.

Advertising

For example, eating a slice of our favorite pizza may have a higher reward value than drinking a smoothie. Being on that tropical vacation will have a higher reward value than watching that water fountain downtown.

Our brains even release dopamine before we engage in those things that make us happy. It’s the expectation of the reward rather than the reward itself that has the strongest influence on our emotional reactions and memories of what’s pleasurable.[2] Just planning that tropical vacation by checking out different locations on a travel site or looking at things we want to buy on Amazon stimulates our reward system by releasing dopamine.

Thinking about starting a project at work that we’re really passionate about also activates our reward system. This act of feeling the pleasure generated by our mental reward systems is what creates reward-seeking behavior and is a big part of motivation.

Vanderbilt University researchers discovered that “go-getters” who are more willing to work hard have greater dopamine activity in the striatum and prefrontal cortex, two areas of the brain that influence motivation and reward.[3]

Hacking Our Brain’s Reward System

Here are four ways to hack the reward system in your brain to stay motivated.

1. Keep Growing

When you do the same things over and over, that dopamine rush tends to get smaller and smaller. A great way to stay motivated is to keep growing by doing bigger and bigger things.

Take on bigger, more challenging projects at work. Once you’ve reached a running or fitness milestone, start working toward a bigger one. If you’re fluent in a foreign language, learn how to have more complex, philosophical conversations. If you have your own business, find ways to acquire more clients so you can generate more profit. Keep learning new skills that will push you to the edge of your comfort zone.

Advertising

Taking on greater challenges helps our brain’s reward system continue to assign high reward values to things we do. Start by accomplishing small goals. As you accumulate more and more small wins, work your way up to more challenging goals.

2. Use Visualization

“Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.”—Bo Bennett

A great way to stay motivated is to visualize accomplishing a goal—even though you haven’t completed it yet. Visualization actually causes the brain to release dopamine. This makes us see our future rewards more clearly and go after them more fervently.

When our brains release dopamine and we feel that rush of euphoria, our hippocampus, which is part of our brain’s limbic system, records those pleasurable moments in our long-term memory. The more we visualize success, the more our brains associate this visualized success with pleasurable feelings.

When we can imagine a better future, we’re motivated to keep pushing forward and overcoming obstacles in our path. This is why people work hard to get raises and promotions, invest their money, put their kids thru college, and do other things that help them or others prosper later in life.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Jim Carrey, and other famous and influential people have used visualization to achieve sky-high success.[4] It’s a great way to use the power of your imagination to keep you motivated to succeed.

3. Avoid Excessive Stress

High levels of stress are associated with chronic inflammation, which can cause our motivation to decrease. Researchers at Emory University have theorized that chronic inflammation from stress may cause a chemical reaction in the body that decreases dopamine supplies in the brain.[5]

Advertising

Low levels of stress can actually help us perform better by making us more alert. That adrenaline rush we get from stress can give us the energy and the edge to do our best. But when stress levels are high, stress can be damaging to our bodies, minds, and motivation.[6]

High-stress can lead to burnout. In the worse cases, it can cause people to quit projects or quit their jobs. It can cause mental problems such as anxiety or depression. It can lead to health problems like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other illnesses. Reduce stress by doing deep breathing exercises, meditating, running, or exercising regularly.

4. Reframe Challenges

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.—Wayne Dyer

Another great way to hack your brain’s reward system is to change how you look at challenges in your life. A common problem is that many people see difficult work as an obstacle or simply something they don’t like doing.

A good strategy is to look at difficult situations and obstacles as opportunities that will help you and those around you grow. This will help us look at difficult things in a positive light and actually look forward to doing them instead of dreading them.

For example, if three employees on your team aren’t getting along with each other and two of them are thinking about quitting, don’t look at this as a very stressful, terrible problem. Instead, look at the situation as an opportunity to use your interpersonal skills to gather the angry employees together, let them voice their concerns, and then resolve the problem.

It will help them improve personally and professionally. It will also help you and your company prosper as well. You can also apply this same way of thinking to your personal life. If your friends or family members aren’t getting along, use the disagreement as a growth opportunity that will benefit them and you.

Advertising

When we can see difficult things as great opportunities, we’ll start to look forward to them. When we look forward to doing things, it makes the reward system in our brains reward us with more dopamine, and it increases the chances that we’ll look at future problems as opportunities to grow.

Conclusion

Motivation is a challenging part of personal and professional development. This is why motivational videos and motivational speeches are so popular. A central part of staying motivated, even during the most challenging times, is to understand how our brains work. Science has given us a good understanding of our brain’s reward system and the chemicals and pathways that allow it to shape our behavior.

Hack that reward system in your brain by taking on bigger challenges, visualizing success, avoiding excessive stress, and looking at difficult situations as opportunities to help others and help yourself grow.

When we begin to master our brains, we’ll be better able to master our lives and achieve those big goals.

More Tips on How to Stay Motivated

Featured photo credit: Giorgio Trovato via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next