Four Free Ways to Enjoy Life More

We live in a fast-paced world full of routines and habits. Whether you work outside the home or stay home and give care to children, it is important to slow down and be fully present with what you are doing, who you are with, and how you are feeling. "Dr. Dave" Schramm, PH.d, CFLE and instructor at Utah State University, shares the following tips for finding, enjoying, remembering, and looking forward to the good in life:

• Find the Good - the human brain is wired to pay attention to threats, mistakes, and negativity. And for good reason;if we do not learn from danger, we may not live long. But negativity is like Velcro in our brain whereas positivity is like Teflon, it slips away quickly. All of us could benefit from slowing down and finding the good and finding meaning in the micro moments of life, such as feeding a baby, gazing out the window at work, or appreciating your health. Because in reality, life consists only of moments. So when we make the moments matter and find meaning in what we are doing in the present moment, then it all matters. We can even find good in negative situations if we look for what can be learned.

• Enjoy the Good - the happiest people are often those who have learned to enjoy their day. It is about getting good at taking in the good. That is what is under our control. When good experiences happen, slow down for 10-20 seconds to absorb it, enjoy it, and savor the micro moments in life. Whatever you are doing, be in the moment with it and be mindfully present. Research studies suggest that when we are doing something, about 47% of the time we are thinking about something other than what we are doing. Forget about the pursuit of happiness and focus on savoring the happiness in the pursuit of what we do each day.

• Remember the Good in the Past - people who spend time thinking about, discussing, and writing down the best parts of each day are happier and more grateful than others. Whether it is watching home movies, flipping through scrapbooks, or talking about memories at mealtime or while driving in the car, when our brains relive happy times in the past they release the same chemicals when the actual experience happened. If you had a challenging childhood, remember that scholars have suggested that the healthiest people are not necessarily those who had perfect childhoods but those who have made peace with their childhoods.

• Look Forward to Good in the Future - Whether it is an upcoming vacation or looking forward to a favorite dessert after dinner, the brain is wired to anticipate positive experiences. Dopamine (chemical neurotransmitter) is released in our brain when we experience and expect good things. And it turns out that anticipating positive events keeps the dopamine flowing. It is basically 'free happiness' or healthy optimism when you plan, talk about, and look forward to good things in the future, whether they are big or small.

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