The Happiness Connection  

The benefits of learning something new

Candy for your brain

• 30 minutes a day of complaining can physically damage your brain

• People who constantly check their emails are less happy than those who check them just three times a day

• It’s impossible to hum while holding your nose. I had to try this one for myself, but it really is true

• You may know the famous doll as Barbie, but her full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts

• The average four-year-old asks more than 300 questions a day

As Halloween approaches, I decided to begin my column this week with some candy. Your eyes may not perceive trivia as a box of chocolates or peanut brittle, but your brain does.

It may surprise you to know that your brain rewards you with a dopamine hit when you consume bits of information. This may explain, in part, why humans love to learn. It makes us happy.

Dopamine is known as the feel-good neurotransmitter. It’s part of your brain’s reward system. It’s the reason you feel so good when you eat food you’ve been craving or when you receive money.

Pleasure is the opposite of pain and suffering. Just like any other emotion, it can be experienced at a variety of intensities.

Eating your favourite cookie may result in a mild sense of happiness. Buying the ice cream cone you’ve been craving for days might spark something more intense.

There’s another similarity between small bits of information and food. Your body doesn’t care if you give it a healthy option or junk. It doesn’t discern between the two.

You’ll get a dopamine hit whether it’s junk information or good quality material.

I found this knowledge both interesting—I love a hit of dopamine—and useful.

Being rewarded when you give your brain a tidbit of information may explain why some people check their phones so often. They’re looking for a nugget of data to snack on. It makes them feel good.

That’s why social media can so easily capture your attention. It hands out small portions that are perfectly sized for hits of pleasure.

I know more than one person who’s decided to delete apps because they were becoming addicted to them.

If you understand that you can feel just as good reading informative articles or studies that build your knowledge bank, maybe that’s a better choice for you than constantly consuming posts on social media.

There’s no judgement here. I’m simply giving you something to consider. There will never be a unanimous decision on what’s good and what’s junk.

If you want to share information with others, do it in small bite sized pieces. You may not realize you’re doing it but if you communicate, you probably impart knowledge from time to time. Drip feed rather than data dump.

In an effort to lead by example, I’m not going to elaborate. Instead, I’ll leave you with a little more brain candy.

• Psycho was the first movie to show a toilet flushing

• The word “strength” is the longest word in the English language with only one vowel

• Honey is the only food that does not rot. If you store a jar of it for three thousand years, it will still be safe for human consumption

• The best temperature for feeling happy is 16° C

• The original name for Google was Backrub

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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