Positive Aging

Making Your Brain Happy


Here’s a thought: The things that make you happy aren’t necessarily the things that make your brain happy. For example, your brain may not care that you just bought a perfectly restored ’64 Chevy Impala convertible. But what does affect your brain is the deep and broad smile that springs to your face every time you think of it.1


Through the process of biofeedback, your brain recognizes that a smile is associated with feelings of happiness; therefore, those facial muscles trigger the stimuli in the brain that make you feel happy. In fact, smiling is recognized as providing the brain with as much pleasure as 2,000 bars of chocolate or receiving $25,000.2


Smiling on cue could be construed as an elaborate “fake it till you feel it” scheme. But if it is, so what? Smile at people when you feel down, and you might start feeling better. The following “happy habit” tips are offered by researchers who have found scientifically based data that these actions can help make you feel happier.3


  • Listen to music from the happiest time in your life
  • When feeling stressed, think about your long-term goals; this triggers three actions:
    1. Gives your brain a sense of control
    2. Changes your perspective to be more positive and action oriented
    3. Releases dopamine (the “happy hormone”)
  • Do not procrastinate — find one small thing to get you started; this focus can help shut out feelings of overwhelming stress and motivate you to keep moving forward


1 Time. Dec. 15, 2015. “5 Secrets to Happiness, According to Science.” http://time.com/4149843/xenoblade-director-tetsuya-takahashi/. Accessed Dec. 20, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.


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