5 ways to teach the brain to be happy

The internet abounds with tips how to be happy. And that’s all fine and well. But the truth is, the brain isn’t wired to be happy and positive. In fact, the brain is wired to be a Debby Downer and negative. So, if happiness is your goal, you’ve got to teach the brain how to be happy. Here’s how.

When it comes to the brain, it’s always on the low out for negative things. According to neuropsychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence, Rick Hanson, explains that “The brain continuously scans for bad news. As soon as it finds the bad news, it overly focuses on it.”

So, if it’s hard to be positive and feel good all the time, it might be because you brain is really good at focusing on negative news, stories, emotions and thoughts.

But there are five things you can do to rewire your brain so that it can focus on the positive, rather than the negative, so you can actually feel happy.

Don’t ignore your negative thoughts

When trying to be happy, you might think it’s important to ignore negative thoughts and emotions. Instead, acknowledge that they’re there. Label them, find the root of them and then see if you can create a more positive experience for yourself.


Meditation can actually change the brain. In fact, research shows that meditation helps to expand areas of the brain that are connected to compassion and self-awareness.

Cultivate gratitude

A negative brain won’t notice all the good things in your life. So, set the intention to start noticing all the good things – whether big or small. Your brain will get the hint and start to focus on the good things, too.

Journal about the positives

Journaling is one way to cultivate gratitude, too. At the beginning and end of your day, take time to acknowledge the positive things that you experienced. They could be everything and anything, from a warm cup of tea, a cozy pair of socks, the promotion at work, or talking on the phone to your best friend.


Exercise releases dopamine. And the brain needs this neurotransmitter to feel happy. How can you incorporate exercise into your routine?

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