If you've ever had a long day, then you likely know the feeling: sometimes, all you want to do is come home to a big cookie, a scoop of ice cream or some kind of “naughty” comfort treat that really does seem to make your world a little bit better! Sure, it's no fresh-pressed green juice, but your indulgence in a favorite dessert is nothing to feel guilty about, and that sense of positivity isn't just in your head, either. It turns out treats really can help brighten your day!
Although it may be a subjective experience, there is an increasing science to happiness. Much of building up a happy state begins on a mental level – the types of thoughts we choose to think, the quotes we decide to absorb and make our mantra, and even the forms of conversations we have with other people in our lives. All of these activities can promote a positive brain state and contribute to an overall sense of well-being.
But there is, in fact, a secondary part to the happiness game: pleasure. Pleasure is usually linked more to physical gratification, and while these activities won't directly make you “happy,” they can promote a pleasant mood...which usually results in positive thoughts, and ultimately, a happy state. To look at it from another angle, authors Morton L. Kringelbach and Kent C. Berridge state in their paper, The Neuroscience of Happiness and Pleasure, “While it remains unclear how pleasure and happiness are exactly linked, it may be safe to say at least that the pathological lack of pleasure…amounts to a formidable obstacle to happiness.” In other words, if you've had a bad day, don't deny yourself that cookie!
Rewarding ourselves is a big part of tapping into this pleasure state and dessert can serve as an exceptional prize. Sweet, chewy, soft and everything our cravings could dream of – a sensible portion of dessert is like the food version of getting a gold star. What's more, if you make these treats yourself out of best-choice ingredients (like using Coconut Palm Sugar instead of cane sugar, coconut oil instead of butter, Goji Berries instead of raisins or boosting your favorite dessert with an amazing Superfood Blend), you can actually pat yourself on the back two times over. By no means does dessert need to equal regret!
So, while it's important to seek pleasure in many healthy activities throughout the day, don't be too quick to discount the desserts. If you're focused on positivity, remember that your sweet tooth can be a welcome part of your healthy, happy smile.