Neuroscience research on happiness and our brain points to 4 rituals that consistently make us happy:

1. Gratitude

Get that dopamine flowing… and serotonin! Ask yourself “What am I grateful for?” Just searching helps. So, if you don’t hear answers right away, well the good news is that it doesn’t matter. Your gratitude list will come with practice. At least this area of your brain actually becomes more dense as your neurons become more efficient. Practice really does make you smarter.

2. Name Depleting Emotions

Label those heavy, negative and depleting emotions. Neuroscience now agrees with positive psych that naming emotions starts an immediate shift toward happiness. Choosing the opposite renewing (positive) emotion is a blast of energy to your system and finishes the transformation job. Better get more emotional language into your neuron pathways!

3. Choice… directionally right, roughly correct

Oh, that limbic system of ours loves to get all tied up and stuck in “limbo” (is that an unfortunate coincidence or awkward truth?). Our brain wants to control everything. After all, that is the home of our ego. But, once a decision is made, things shift with the help of emotions that launch biochemical and hormonal releases making you feel better once a good enough decision is made. So, go for ‘good enough’ instead of ‘best decision ever made on Earth.’ Choice actually reduces stress.

4. Touch

Feel the love. Without touch, we feel rejection at such a an intense level it just is as if we have a broken leg to our brain. Yep. That intense! Our brain seeks out oxytocin and finds it quickly through welcomed touch from another. The longer the hug, the more oxytocin pleasure! Hugs, hugs, and more hugs. And if you have tried a heart hug yet, oh man, you have to develop your hugging happiness.

Ready to go get happy?

Think you can’t be happy at work? Wrong!! All four of these rituals for helping our brain move us to happiness are great for work and teams. In fact, high performing teams excel at these.

Check out this article that makes this kind of neuroscience easy to digest —