Is there a scientific reason for seeing the world more brightly?

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This morning I woke up about 7 minutes before my alarm went off after a really good night’s sleep. I had a refreshing shower, spent some lovely time with my daughter and ate a good breakfast whilst watching an inspiring TED Talk (this one about How To Find The Work You Love if you’re interested). The sun was shining brightly on a chilly but beautiful morning as I jumped on my bike to ride to work. I felt like the world was in sharp relief, the edges of things were clearer, colours were more vivid and there was literally more in the world than usual.

I also noticed a sharpness about my other senses as well. I noticed smells more acutely and could distinguish multiple different sounds far more easily than usual. My energy levels were higher than I’m used to in the morning.

This vividness and clarity extended beyond my senses to my mind as well. I’ve been incredibly inspired about in and out of work projects. Getting on with difficult tasks seems simple today. I can literally get more done. Even making decisions is easier (which is something I often struggle with).

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this, although I’ll admit it doesn’t happen as often as I would like. I hope you’ve had days like this, they are absolutely wonderful and make what was originally going to be a fairly dull and dreary day a delight and amazingly productive.

However, I’m not just trying to show off about my good day. I wonder, what is the scientific reason for this extra vividness and clarity? Both in my senses and in my cognitive function? Was it just two good night’s sleep in a row? I’m sure I’ve had good sleep without this effect before. Is it the fact I watched something inspiring that boosted my whole vision of the world? I try to do that often, but it doesn’t guarantee me a fantastic day. Is it simply the sunshine? If it is just that though, why don’t I feel like this on every sunny day?

With my zero neuroscientific research background, my guess is that the combined effect of good sleep, good food, serotonin from the sun and lots of good feeling chemicals in the morning caused my brain to remove its mental fog and literally leave more cognitive space for soaking up the surroundings. My eyes, ears and nose hadn’t changed, just the amount of brain processing power I had to compute all the incoming information. As David Allen talks about in his Getting Things Done methodology, I had more “psychic bandwidth”.

I wish I could bottle this feeling and give it out to all. Maybe one day that will be a possibility. But until then I’ll keep exploring the ways we can get to this state 🙂

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