Happy people live up to 35% longer than people who say they are habitually sad. Psychologist Michael Friedrichs, Ph.D., joined us to talk about happiness, what it is, and how to keep it!
Dr. Friedrichs says Happiness is chemical reaction involving four neurotransmitters in your brain. Serotonin makes you feel positive; Dopamine makes you feel upbeat; GABA makes you feel stress free, and Endorphins give you feelings of pleasure. These work in conjunction with the "three brains" you have:
- THE LIZARD BRAIN is all about basic needs that make us happy. Joy in this brain comes from eating delicious food, sleeping, buying things, or experiencing conquest in sex. Unfortunately, this is the brain that leads us to addiction.
- THE MAMMAL BRAIN is concerned with social issues. This includes friendship, touch, basic goal setting and efficacy. There is evidence that having prestige in your community is an endless source of joy, whereas money is fleeting after you get used to it. So rich people ARE happier because they have power over others, not because they are rich.
- THE TALKING BRAIN is the highest brain. It's the rational brain. The only thing differentiating you from an ape is that you are less hairy, better looking, and you TALK. More importantly you tell yourself stories about why this or that happened. Happy people tell happy stories. And even when something bad happens to them, they tell a story of triumph.
So what can you do to be happy? Follow Dr. Friedrichs' FIVE H's:
- Health – We know that obesity, low activity, and sedentary lifestyle cause sadness. Fix it. Eat less, move more. Avoid fat and sugar.
- Head – Do not permit abusive self-talk, meditate, listen twice as much as you talk-- it's why we have two ears and one mouth.
- Heart – Fall in love with as many things as possible before you die. Love does not equal sex, by the way.
- Hands – Be creative. Many stop after elementary school. We’ve become a class of consumers.
- Helping – Volunteer. Do something for someone else without expecting anything in return. As Alfred Adler said "Happiness is inversely proportional to the importance of ego."
For more information on mental health issues, visit Dr. Friedrichs website.