When we are happier, the parts of the brain that are responsible for news and rewards are activated
The trip makes us happy and almost everyone will agree.
But we rarely think about the exact reason – what are the mechanisms in the brain that make it feel bliss and happiness if we go on a trip.
A study by Dr. Aaron Heller and Dr. Catherine Hartley of the University of Miami sheds light on this issue, finding that when they embark on new and varied activities, people are happiest.
The study involved people living in New York and Miami, whose emotions were tracked for several months. The results show that people experience the most positive emotions when they spend more time in unfamiliar places.
What is specific is that the signals of happiness are detected in areas of the brain that are responsible for news and rewards.
Survey participants said they felt happier, stronger, calmer or more excited about the days they visited new places.
It turns out that even small changes such as going to the store on a new route or walking on unfamiliar streets in your own neighborhood have a beneficial effect.
“Our results show that people feel happier when they have more variety in their daily lives – when they visit new places and have a wide range of experiences. The opposite is probably also true – positive emotions can make people look for such pleasant experiences. more often, “said Catherine Hartley, one of the study’s authors.
The data show that some people are more sensitive to a variety of activities and this stimulates them more.
Usually people look forward to their vacation and anticipate all the happy moments they will experience in this period of time. Sometimes the holidays are really like that, other times they leave the tourists with a feeling of complete disappointment.
However, it turns out that you have some control over what memories you will have after the end of your vacation. If you want happy moments to remain in your mind, leave the best experience for the end of the holiday.
According to the Psycho Rule of Peak and End, people judge an experience by its peak (the most intense point, whether positive or negative) and its end. It may seem more logical to base the judgment on the arithmetic mean “sum” of all experiences, but the human brain simply does not work that way.
The rest of the information from the experience is not lost, but simply not used in the creation of memories.
According to the two psychologists, authors of the rule – Daniel Kahneman and Barbara Fredrickson, it applies to any event that has a clear beginning and clear end – such as vacation (but also a visit to the doctor or even a working day).
In one study, Kahneman made participants immerse their hand in cold water (14 degrees) for 60 seconds. He then makes them do the same, but after the 60 seconds have elapsed, keep their hand immersed for another 30 seconds, this time raising the temperature to 15 degrees.
Surprisingly, when asked which experiment they wanted to repeat, most participants chose the latter, despite the fact that it provided a longer stay in the cold water. The reason, according to Kahneman, is the fond memory of the end of a long experience (the slight warming of the water).
In another experiment, participants had to wait to be served by a computer program. For some people, at the end of the wait, the queue suddenly passed faster than expected. Although both groups were dissatisfied with the wait most of the time, those who finally had a good memory (moving the tail) described the overall experience as enjoyable.
Daniel Kahneman is an Israeli psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002 for his research in behavioral economics (studying the principle of decision-making through the prism of emotional, cultural and psychological factors).
If you use his theory, you will realize that you have little control over the peak of your vacation (there is no way to know if it will be positive or negative), but at least you can leave for the end of some really favorite activity to make sure that you will return home with wonderful memories.