Health

Q&A: Do you have a happy brain?

by Sandee LaMotte, CNN

Updated 2047 GMT (0447 HKT) August 11, 2016
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As research into our mysterious gray matter continues to explode, scientists are getting ever closer to understanding what creates a calm, contented and happy brain. Answer these eight questions to see whether your brain is wired to be happy or if you might need to practice positivity. Shutterstock

A: If you picked the kitten or pup, your brain may be wired to be happy. Studies show that people who have happy brains respond more to positive things than negative or neutral ones.
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A: All of them. They all have positive elements. No one is hurt, and everyone has access to help. Happy people, according to happiness researcher and author Rick Hanson, look for the positives in each experience and try to hold on to those.
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A: None of them. Happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky says that although all of these can contribute to contentment, they are also part of The Myths of Happiness. She defines those as "myths that assure us that lifelong happiness will be attained once we hit the culturally confirmed markers of adult success. This restricted view of happiness works to discourage us from recognizing the upside of any negative life turn and blocks us from recognizing our own growth potential."
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A: All of them. Studies tell us that writing down what we are grateful for several times a week, laughing and surrounding ourselves with positive, nurturing relationships and looking for the positive as often as possible are great ways to boost mood.
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A: Old age. While most people believe happiness declines with age, studies show that's not true. A large Gallup poll found 85-year-olds to be more satisfied with themselves than 18-year-olds, and another study found that happiness and enjoyment dip in middle age and rise again in old age.
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A: It depends on your age. Younger people gain more happiness from uncommon, extraordinary experiences, while older people savor simple, ordinary experiences that fill up daily life.
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A: Family games and traveling. Studies show that spending on meaningful activities that bring us closer to family and friends or boost self-confidence makes us the happiest, such as sharing travel experiences, playing board games or learning musical instruments.
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A: All of them. In fact, happy brain expert Dr. Richard Davidson says his data show that if a person sits quietly and thinks about kindness and compassion for a half-hour a day, their brain will show noticeable changes in just two weeks.
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