Over the past couple of years, there have been perceptible shifts in our collective vision of what our lives should look like. The Pandemic has exposed the weak points in our current systems and the inequities they perpetuate, causing us to seriously reconsider the track that we’re on.
There have been many discussions around how much we should be working in order to strike that work-life balance, and possible solutions to address the flimsiness of childcare options which is an obstacle that mostly hinders mothers in the professional sphere. There are also loud and ongoing conversations about racial, social, and environmental injustices. Additionally, in the interest of mental health, various activities have come to the foreground (daily movement, spending time in nature, creativity, and mindfulness to name a few) which the “grind mentality” had encouraged us to neglect.
Basically, the entire world seems to be paying more attention to the search for happiness and rethinking how we define this elusive state of being that we thought professional or financial “success” would bring us.
According to most scientific studies on “happiness,” reaching happiness is thought to be based on a combination of factors: genetics (40 percent), life events (10 percent), and mindset and habits (50 percent). However, happiness itself will mean something different for everyone. While it’s difficult to pinpoint with precision exactly what will do the trick, knowing your brain type can help narrow down the best lifestyle adjustments to make to help you reach happiness.
What are brain types?
Most people are familiar with some brain-imaging tools like CT or MRI scans, which give us information on the brain’s anatomy and structure, however, brain SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) gives a more in-depth look at what’s going on in the brain. SPECT imaging measures blood flow and activity patterns, which can help reveal three important things: areas with healthy activity, areas that are underactive, and areas that are overactive.
According to clinical neuroscientist psychiatrist Daniel Amen M.D. and his team at Amen Clinics, there are brain activity patterns that relate to personality types which have helped to identify five primary brain types: balanced, spontaneous, persistent, sensitive, and cautious. Here are the five brain types and the habits that may make them happier.
Balanced brain type
Those with a Balanced brain type tend to have healthy brains with full and symmetrical activity. If you find that you’re usually focused, flexible, organized, and emotionally stable, your brain probably falls under this category. Things like showing up on time, following through on promises, and following the rules make you happy—the good thing is that balanced types will likely do this anyway and will generally already be happy!
Spontaneous brain type
A spontaneous brain type tends to have lower activity in the prefrontal cortex (front part of the brain). This type is often characterized as creative and adventurous, yet also impulsive, disorganized, and with short attention spans (this type is more prone to conditions like ADHD).
Trying new things that excite and stimulate this brain type will keep them happy, while routine, boredom, and doing things like waiting in line make them unhappy.
Persistent brain type
Those who fall under this category have increased activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus. They are usually strong-willed, stubborn, and are steadfast in completing tasks. They are prone to overthinking their worries and are at higher risk of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Unlike the spontaneous brain type, persistent brains enjoy routine, familiarity, and a sense of being in charge. Being told “no,” and having rules change does not make this type happy.
Sensitive brain type
More activity in the limbic system (the emotional centers of the brain) is associated with the Sensitive brain type. Empathetic people are usually in this category and are prone to moodiness, negativity, and depression due to their tendency to feel things so deeply.
To invite happiness, Sensitive brain types can try listening to calming music, spending time in nature, engaging in deep conversations with loved ones, and practicing mindfulness.
Cautious brain type
Cautious brain types show higher than average activity in the amygdala and basal ganglia. This type can be at risk for anxiety but are generally prepared, motivated, thorough planners, and reliable people.
Things that make Cautious brain types feel safe and happy are finishing assignments on time or early and carefully writing out pros-and-cons lists before making important decisions.