Routines are like trails. They give us security and a good feeling, but they also prevent us from looking left and right and taking unknown paths. According to studies, however, it is precisely there, away from predictability and everyday routine, that the key to great happiness awaits – and thus to better health and longer youth. On the following pages you can read how to stimulate your curiosity. And creatures of habit Life Coach Bettina Meyer gives tips for more courage to change.
Courage makes happy
Those who regularly defy small and large fears to try new things will be rewarded with a large portion of happiness hormones. Based on thousands of diary evaluations, scientists in America were also able to show that the greater the variety (!) of the experiences of the diarists over several years, the happier they were. And the longer the positive emotions lasted, making it easier to compensate for negative experiences, which are also needed for the happiness balance. Those of us still looking for that hobby or sport might be surprised by the resulting advice: once you’ve found one thing that makes you happy, try another! That doesn’t mean that you should give up all the routines you love.
But without change nothing moves in life. Small things are often enough to give us the kick of luck of the new.
Researchers from Toronto discovered, for example, that the reward center in our brain fires when we specifically listen to new music. If you lack ideas for something new, a conscious decision in everyday life helps: for a while only answer yes instead of the routine no when a colleague wants to take you to aerial yoga or a friend wants to persuade you to go on a camping trip. Because we don’t know what we don’t know. Maybe your next favorite hobby is waiting where we would never have voluntarily looked. Hollywood’s successful producer Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy”, “Scandal”) also lived according to this philosophy for a year – in “Das Ja-Experiment” (Heyne, 16.99 euros) she writes what she experienced.
In the flow
Happiness experts keep talking about “flow”. The state of flow occurs when we are totally immersed in an activity, whether mental or physical, so that we seem to lose all sense of the passage of time. This is especially the case when we voluntarily grow beyond our limits. That means: What we do exceeds our current abilities just enough that it seems achievable with a little sweat and diligence. However, we need to make completing the challenge meaningful in order to have fun—and flow—in the process. According to scientists, these – and not moments of total rest and relaxation – are our happiest hours in life. There’s a lot to be said for finally learning a sport that we never thought we could do – or booking an active holiday instead of a beach holiday.
New experiences keep you young
We’re happy to risk a few laugh lines if it makes us happy. But please keep your head fresh. New impulses act like an anti-aging cure on our brain cells. Lifelong learning prevents nerve tracts from becoming one-way streets with increasing age. Instead, we continue to expand the “road network” and discover unexpected shortcuts as we learn new things. What’s happening is called neuroplasticity, and describes the relatively recent finding that our brain isn’t a rigid mass, but a muscle like any other in our body. We can train and strengthen it or let it atrophy through disuse. Neuroplasticity works like our social network in real life. If we don’t call old friends for years, the connection is gone. We may even have lost the cell phone number – it will be a hard piece of work to reestablish contact. After a few calls everything is back to normal. At the same time we can make new friends, expand our network – and find out with surprise that the school friend knows the new friend from two corners. Our network of synapses works in exactly the same way – and does so into old age. Provided: We practice a lot and often in new things. The same formula keeps our love relationships fresh, by the way.
According to a study by the State University of New York, couples who regularly experience new things together are happier.
And there’s another mundane bonus to doing something new (this also applies to single people, by the way): the weekend seems longer if you don’t go through the usual routine.
New makes you smart
Learning and happiness are very close together in our brain. So close that experiences of joy and happiness automatically promote learning processes. Positive emotions activate the nucleus accumbens, a nerve in our forebrain. It is described in the literature in particular as a happiness center or associated with addiction and fun. Actually, however, it is much more of a learning center, emphasize neuroscientists such as Prof. Dr. Manfred Spitzer from the University of Ulm. That’s why what we want doesn’t always make us happy in the long term. Everything in life needs some learning or development component in order to keep triggering positive emotions. Standstill and monotony kill happiness. We know that – from uninspired relationships, from always taking the same route or from daily tasks at work that we do in autopilot mode. That means: calmly accepting new positive challenges, even if they seem uncomfortable at first. Our brain rewards us for it.
Boosts your self-confidence
In addition to health, youth and love, curiosity fuels something else that is essential: our self-confidence. We just feel really good when we continue to develop and expand our wealth of experience. New skills strengthen our self-esteem and allow us to perform, communicate and make new friends better. The best investment is therefore always in ourselves. Only those who take care of their own happiness can also make others happy. So don’t wait any longer – and take the first step out of your comfort zone now. Life coach Bettina Meyer explains how this works in the interview on the right.
Can you do it: say yes!
In the FFF interview, the expert gives tips for courage and self-confidence
Why do we often find it so difficult to try new things?
Old and wrong beliefs are often behind it. Our environment and we ourselves constantly whisper to ourselves why we can’t or shouldn’t do something. We quickly make the reservations of others our own. Who doesn’t know the sayings “Do you really want to do that?”, “You’ve never…”.
And how do I get rid of such beliefs?
The best way is to invalidate them. Through fear is out of fear. Means: act and realize that you can do more than you thought. Anyone who struggles at first realizes that everything isn’t that bad. A brief reality check based on the lifetime approach also helps in advance. Just because you’ve repeatedly failed at a particular challenge in the past doesn’t mean that’s the case today. You now have new skills and more knowledge than you did back then. And if nothing works: act as if – and imitate the behavior of people who have already achieved the goal.
What is your favorite technique against fear of the unfamiliar?
I like to use a blue rope for a symbolic exercise. My customers are supposed to mark their room with the rope – a confusing task for many. Aim: to perceive that one can decide for oneself how much or little one distances oneself from external influences. You don’t have to make the negativity around you your own reality.
How can I still work on my courage for new things in everyday life?
Visualizations are very effective, because images create emotions. You can imagine a very concrete picture of the feeling of fear in your mind. The presumably depressing image should then slowly be changed in the mind to a beautiful, positive image. How to reprogram emotions. You get used to everything new.
How do I avoid falling back into old routine patterns?
It needs clear goals. Works well: write three specific (partial) goals on a card and put them in your wallet. That creates commitment. And if you achieve them, please reward them too – and set bigger goals. Making a vision board is also motivating. This is a colorful collage of images of everything you would like to experience, feel and have in the near future.
And how do I deal with standstill and setbacks?
By being aware of even the smallest of advances and appreciating them. I recommend keeping a success diary in the evening. And the most important thing remains: to deal lovingly with yourself and your own fears. Accept what is now, but also have the unshakable conviction that everything will be fine.
#Courage #goal #luck #FIT #FUN