Why aren’t people naturally happy?
Being a modern human is a balancing act. We are constantly shuffling between responsibilities, and I’ll admit I wouldn’t mind an assistant for my own life. Sometimes life is just loud; sometimes it’s just a lot to deal with.
But there’s also the misconception that humans are wired for happiness. We’re not, really, from an evolutionary standpoint, at least. We are primed to give greater emotional weight to negative emotions and experiences, and it is commonly accepted that adult humans show a negativity bias—we tend to focus on the negative.
If left to its own devices, the mind will choose one state: fear, deficiency, worry, and negativity.
Our minds are constantly scanning our environment for threats to our survival. Whether we realize it or not, we are usually on the defensive; we passively allow life to dictate our moods based on the content of the present moment, or in anticipation of a fraught future.
And so, our happiness is left to happenstance.
Is happiness even important? Why put effort into cultivating happiness at all?
Well, first of all, studies on positive psychology show that at a cellular level, happiness is protective against inflammation; it actually decreases levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (inflammation is the precursor for all sorts of gnarly diseases and generally suboptimal health). If that’s not enough to get yourself motivated to be consistently happy, there is evidence that happiness makes people more productive. We live a pretty short life, when you think about it. Don’t you want to get more of your goals accomplished, with a smile on your face?
And if you ask me, this is perhaps the most important tidbit: positive emotions like happiness foster greater resilience, directly and indirectly, by encouraging adaptive coping mechanisms. This has been shown to translate to less anxiety and depression—two psychopathologies running rampant in society, especially during this current crisis.
But there is an alternative: we can take an offensive approach to life, and modify our moods to align with how we want to feel.
Introducing, the MVP Morning Routine for Daily Happiness
The MVP Morning Routine
Because you are the Most Valuable Player in your own life!
3 Simple Steps (+1 Advanced Tip) For Daily Happiness
- M is for 20 minutes of Meditation or Mindfulness Practice
- V is for Visualizing Your Ideal Life and/or Ideal Day
- P is for Praying to a Higher Power, Your Higher Self, or simply wishing yourself well.
BONUS: if you top off it off with a COLD shower, you are reseting your neurochemistry and jumpstarting your day… with a blast of brain-based happiness!