It’s amazing how things have changed in last two weeks. On the date of my last blog post, COVID-19 was a concern that has turned into an historic event. Now, more than ever, understanding of how our brain works will make a big difference in our daily lives.
The frontal lobe of the brain is the part located directly behind the forehead and is responsible for behavior, learning, personality, and voluntary movement. This is the part of the brain that separates humans from other animals.
The prefrontal cortex is located in the frontal lobe. This part of the brain has an experience simulator that allows us to imagine experiences without them actually happening. No other animal has this ability. Because of this ability, we can create our own happiness just by thinking about pleasant experiences, happy memories or people we love and care about. Harvard Professor, Dan Gilbert, calls this synthetic happiness.
Think of it like this:
Natural happiness is the result of getting something we wanted, and synthetic happiness is what we make when we don’t get what we wanted.
It is actually possible to create your own happiness. However, our society has strong beliefs that synthetic happiness is inferior to natural happiness. Not true!
- A happy life is not always about getting what you want. It is about learning to enjoy what you get.
- Synthetic happiness is not “cheating” yourself to happier.
- Natural happiness primarily relies on external factors whereas synthetic happiness primarily relies on internal factors. As such, synthetic happiness can be a more long-term, stable form of happiness than natural happiness.
- General happiness in life comes from the relationship between natural happiness and synthetic happiness.
Try this experiment. Think of a situation that makes you frustrated or upset. Where do you feel those emotions in your body? Now think of a situation that makes you happy or joyful? Where do you feel those emotions in your body?
Many people report their heart feels warm and they feel better. Shifting our focus to what we can control is more important than ever, and we can control what we focus on and think about!
So next time you feel anxious, frustrated, upset, or sad, focus your thoughts on your happy place or someone or something that makes you feel good. Please post your experience here.