Secrets of a Happy Brain: Reading Comprehension
Read the story and answer the questions.
Secrets of a Happy Brain
The human brain remembers negative experiences more easily than positive ones. Our brains have developed this way because threats, like dangerous animals, had a more immediate effect on our ancestors’ survival compared to positive things like food or shelter. As a result, you likely know what makes you unhappy, but do you know what makes you happy?
Research suggests that our level of happiness depends partly on factors we cannot control – our genes and our life circumstances. But our level of happiness is also shaped by the choices we make. If you’ve been chasing wealth, fame, good looks, material things, and power, you may be looking for happiness in all the wrong places. Psychologists suggest that the following seven habits make people happier.
People who form close relationships tend to be happier than those who do not. The number of friends we have is not important. What matters is the quality of our relationships. Relationships that bring happiness usually involve the sharing of feelings, mutual respect, acceptance, trust, fun and empathy.
People who make a habit of caring for the wellbeing of others tend to be happier. This might involve volunteering for an organization or reaching out to support friends and family on a regular basis.
People who exercise regularly improve both their physical and mental well-being. Some research has shown that exercise can be as effective as medication in treating depression.
When we are so interested in an activity we enjoy that we lose track of time, we are in a state of flow. The activity could be making art, playing piano, surfing, or playing a game. People who experience flow in their work or hobbies tend to be happier.
People who include spirituality in their daily life tend to be happier. Practicing spirituality is a way of recognizing and trying to understand the wonder and beauty of existence. Some people do this by going to a place of worship or praying. Some people practice yoga or meditation. Some people go for long walks in nature.
People are more likely to be happy if they know what their strengths are and use them regularly. People who set goals and use their strengths to achieve them tend to be happier. People are especially happy when they can use their strengths to serve the greater good.
People who think positively by being grateful, mindful, and optimistic are more likely to be happy. Being grateful means being thankful. Being mindful means being open to, focusing on, and enjoying the experiences of the present moment. Being optimistic means being hopeful about the future.
Story by Shantel Ivits at BC Open Textbooks
Adapted under Creative Commons license
Adaptations and exercises by Richard Carrington, English Language Centre
Audio version performed by Cam Culham, English Language Centre
Public Domain images from WPClipart
Things we cannot control that affect our level of happiness are _______________ .
- the number and quality of relationships we have
- the number of volunteer positions we have
- our genes
What is not mentioned in the reading as being part of a quality relationship?
- mutual respect
- sharing of feelings
Why doesn't the brain remember positive experiences as much as negative ones?
- Our ancestors didn't understand what made them happy.
- Positive experiences were not as important for the survival of our ancestors as negative ones.
- Positive experiences like having food and shelter were necessary for the survival of our ancestors.
The writer probably believes that _______________ can help someone experiencing depression.
- learning to make art
- learning to play the piano or guitar
- starting an exercise program.
What is part of thinking positively?
- wishing that we could change the past
- appreciating what we have
- feeling bad about decisions we have made
What would the author think is not a way of caring for the well-being of others?
- volunteering at a home for old people
- giving advice to a friend who has marriage problems
- practicing yoga or meditation
How does the author explain spirituality?
- It is a way or recognizing the need to protect and preserve the beauty of nature.
- It is a way of recognizing and trying to understand the wonder and beauty of life.
- It is a way of making new friends.
What is not given as a way people can include spirituality in their daily lives?
- taking long walks in nature
- getting regular exercise
- going to a place of worship
According to the reading, people are in a state of flow when _______________ .
- people include spirituality in their daily lives
- time seems to pass very quickly
- we feel the need to help others
What is not part of being mindful?
- enjoying the memory of a past experience
- focusing on this moment
- taking pleasure in what you are doing at this time