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The Benefits of the

Six Sustainable

Happiness Skills

Happiness is a Skill

You can train your brain to reduce negative thinking and increase positive thinking, rewiring your brain for increased happiness through the practice of the Six Sustainable Happiness Skills.

Happy Brain, Happy You!

Negative thoughts can sap the brain of its positive forcefulness, slow it down, and dim its ability to function. By training our brain to think in a more positive, more optimistic way, we can train it for happiness, improving our sense of well-being and allowing our brain to function at peak capacity.

Life's Good

Happiness is more than a temporary emotional response to a short-lived experience. It’s the ability to recognize that Life’s Good...even if it’s hard sometimes.

Brain Benefits
When we are better able to regulate our emotions and calm ourselves, we reap the benefits!
  • Emotional and cognitive effects—Happiness feels good! Happiness skills can help you regulate emotions and stay calm and clear-headed in stressful situations.
  • Pro-sociality—Happiness increases oxytocin, which supports relationship-building, trust, and loyalty!
  • Mental health effects—Happiness increases other “good” brain chemicals like GABA, which can help with anxiety.
  • Stress physiology—Happiness increases dopamine and decreases cortisol, which can have negative impacts on the body!
  • Immune function—Research shows that happiness is associated with positive changes in the body’s immune system!
  • Health effects—Happiness increases other “good” brain chemicals like endorphins, which can help with pain management.
Brain Science
Change Your Brain with Skills for Sustainable Happiness

Our nervous system is controlled by two main forces—the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.

  • Sympathetic nervous system: At work when we are stressed, anxious, or afraid. It makes us want to run away or confront whatever is making us upset.
  • Parasympathetic nervous system: At work when our bodies are at rest. It allows us to digest and eliminate food, cry, and salivate.

They are part of the central core of your brain—the limbic system. They constantly dictate how we perceive and relate to the world around us.

Now learn about the neocortex!

Brain Science
Change Your Brain with Skills for Sustainable Happiness

The limbic system is covered and protected by the outer area of the brain—the neocortex—which is divided into four sections, called lobes. Each lobe has a job to do.

Keep exploring to learn how emotions affect our thinking and actions.

Brain Science
Frontal Lobe

Involved in:

  • High-level thinking
  • Decision-making and planning
  • Speaking
  • Emotion
  • Voluntary movement
  • Problem solving
  • Judgment
  • Language
  • Impulse control

Research shows that the right side of the frontal lobe becomes more active when people feel happy. The left side becomes more active when people feel sad. We can train our brains to increase happiness and reduce sadness!

Brain Science
Parietal Lobe

Involved in:

  • Spatial awareness
  • Movement
  • Processing sensory information, such as touch, taste, and temperature

Scientists think that happiness and satisfaction happen in the parietal lobe. The parietal lobe helps us recognize jokes—and even laugh at them!

Brain Science
Temporal Lobe

Involved in:

  • Comprehending speech and sounds
  • Long-term memory
  • Emotions

When we get angry, afraid, or anxious, the limbic system gets fired up and can sometimes overrule the outer lobes of the brain, meaning that we are not thinking very clearly. It is harder for our brains process language, form memories, and regulate our emotions.

Brain Science
Occipital Lobe

Involved in:

  • Sight
  • Makes sense of visual information

In moments of anger, fear, or anxiety, we are not as good at processing visual information. This may cause us to misread non-verbal cues, which can worsen negative emotions. But our occipital lobe also allows us to practice positive visualization to help improve our positive outlook and sense of purpose.

Six Sustainable Happiness Skills

The Six Sustainable Happiness Skills are tools based in science that we can use to soothe ourselves calm the brain and nervous system. When we practice the skills, we can counteract the bad things we feel when we are sad, angry, disappointed, frustrated. The Happiness Skills don’t make those emotions disappear, but they do help us better manage our responses to them and return to happier state of mind!

What I should know about Mindfulness

Live in the moment. Be fully present NOW. The past is over and the future hasn’t happened yet, so don’t worry so much about them. Mindfulness is being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings in the here and now. Be kind to yourself. Adopt a supportive stance toward yourself and others. When we practice mindfulness, we worry less and we open ourselves up to JOY!

Ways to practice Mindfulness

  • Think about how you know when you’re being mindful. Talk to a friend about two ways you practice this skill.
  • How can you do more to pay attention to the present moment without judgment? Think about two ways you can improve this happiness skill.
  • Practice mindful breathing: https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/mindful_breathing

What I should know about Human Connection

We all want to feel loved, be comforted, and know that we belong. Strong relationships are critical to our well-being. Relationships with family, friends, and significant others, and social connection with peers are huge predictors of happiness in life. People with close bonds are better able to overcome life’s challenges and are less likely to experience depression, low self-esteem, or health problems.

Ways to practice Human Connection

  • Think about how your relationships enhance your life. Make a list of three people who are important to you and why they’re important.
  • Who makes you feel loved? Tell one person how they make you feel loved.
  • Make time to talk to a friend without interruption or distraction. Take turns talking about what’s important in your lives.

What I should know about Gratitude

Thankfulness fuels optimism, reinforces trust, and is often reciprocated. Feeling gratitude can increase kindness and create a sense of overall well-being and it adds to the quality of our relationships. Gratitude shows that we are aware of our own privilege, and thankful for the sources of goodness outside ourselves.

Ways to practice Gratitude

  • Think about the list you made of five people who have shown you generosity. Thank at least one of them for making a difference in your life.
  • Be grateful for challenges. Think about how a challenge in your life could be an opportunity for growth.
  • Think of other ways you could express gratitude every day.

What I should know about Positive Outlook

Imagine the possibilities! Be open to the idea that everything turns out for the best, eventually. A positive outlook helps us be more hopeful and bounce back from adversity. People are more creative, resilient, and likely to do better in school and in life when they’re experiencing positive emotions. Embrace life’s potential!

Ways to practice Positive Outlook

  • Think about what it means to have a “positive outlook.” How can you do this on a daily basis?
  • How can you find the good in others? Make a note of two good traits you appreciate in your friends.

What I should know about Purpose

Live for something bigger than yourself. You can make a difference in the world – at school, at work, at home, for a team or a community, or in someone else’s life. Purpose means living by your values and goals. It means having a vision for your life’s mission and what you hope to achieve. Set out to do something meaningful. Strive to make a positive difference.

Ways to practice Purpose

  • Think about what gives you a sense of purpose. Make a list!
  • How can you make a positive difference for someone in your family?
  • What are three things you can do this year to live your purpose and make a difference in the world?

What I should know about Generosity

Generosity doesn’t have to be about money. It can be about being helpful, supportive, or simply being kind. It’s about giving of yourself to someone else. Generosity has been shown to boost your endorphins, giving you an increased sense of wellbeing.

Ways to practice Generosity

  • Make a list of five ways others have shown you generosity (that did not involve money).
  • Be patient when you're waiting for someone who is running late. You never know what could be holding them up and your kindness will mean a lot to them. A generosity of spirit!
  • Offer to help someone without being asked. Donate time, money, or materials to an organization that helps others.

Practice Your Happiness Skills

You may experience a happier, fuller, more meaningful life when you practice the Six Sustainable Happiness Skills.

Practice your happiness skills by building a personalized happiness rating scale based on the Six Sustainable Happiness Skills. Fill it out once a day for a seven day period.

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