Wasn’t growing up just the best thing ever? You weren’t too worried about being judged? You got along with most people just fine, and you found it easier to fit in and do stuff you liked in comparison to now, in adulthood, where you have to think of consequences before you go ahead and do things.
But, let’s look at the question at hand – why were you happier as a child? Why is it that despite several glowing compliments on your work, you’re still worried about the the one critical point that was raised at the appraisal? Why is it that despite seeing so many faces at a party, you are fixated by that one unpleasant face that doesn’t smile back?
The answer is rather simple actually. It appears that humans have an innate tendency to focus on the negative over the positive. The part of the brain that is incharge of focusing on emotions is the ‘amygdala’. The Amygdala is incharge of emotional responses. Your ability to focus on happy or sad thoughts are regulated by this part of your brain.
According to research, a ‘happy’ amygdala stimulates the part of your brain that helps you achieve the goals you set for yourself. People with happy amygdalas are optimistic and focused on opportunities over difficulties. Thus, their positive thoughts strengthens their desire to achieve, thereby creating more happy experiences.
Unfortunately, most people have a ‘sad amygdala’. This type of thought process generates fear-based reactions that release cortisol and adrenaline that makes us feel anxious and edgy.
Fortunately, brains can relearn happiness by positive reinforcement and psychological techniques such as visualisation. This strengthens the brain’s ability feel happiness and turn the sad amygdala into a happy one.