How we experience life depends on the chemicals in our brains. Whether we are happy or sad, angry or worried, any emotions we feel all can be traced to what’s going on inside our heads. Now that modern science has a pretty good idea of what happiness looks like in our brains we can actually hack into 4 happiness chemicals and improve our life quality significantly!
Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins are four chemicals that are responsible for our happiness. Here are some simple ways to hack into these positive neurochemicals.
Also known as the “feel-good” hormone or the “reward chemical”. This hormone (and neurotransmitter) is an important part of your brain’s reward system. Dopamine is associated with pleasurable sensations. It is responsible for learning, memory, motor system function, and more. This chemical motivates us to take action toward goals, desires, and needs. And at the same time, it gives us a feeling of satisfaction and pleasure when we achieve them. If you’re prone to procrastination, self-doubt, and lack of willpower or enthusiasm, it could be linked with low levels of dopamine.
Ways to boost dopamine:
- completing a task
- celebrating small wins
- doing some self-care activities
- eating food
- Try to find a way to break big goals down into little pieces. This will allow your brain to celebrate when you’ve hit the finish line. Thus you can create a series of little finish lines and it will help to release dopamine.
- Always create new goals before achieving your current one. That ensures a continual flow for experiencing dopamine.
Also known as the “mood stabilizer”. This hormone (and neurotransmitter) is responsible for your mood, sleep, digestion, appetite, learning ability, and memory. Serotonin flows when you feel significant or important. When you feel lonely or depressed it can be a signal of absent serotonin. Unhealthy attention-seeking behavior can also be a symptom of serotonin lacking.
Ways to boost serotonin:
- walking in nature
- sun exposure
- Spend some time reflecting on your past significant achievements. This will allow your brain to re-live the experience. The thing is our brain doesn’t feel the difference between the real and imagined. Therefore, by just thinking about some positive experience, visualizing the pleasant event or situation, you can help your brain to produce serotonin.
- Spend some time outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. Our skin absorbs UV rays, which promotes vitamin D and serotonin production.
Also known as the “love hormone”. This hormone helps promote trust, empathy, intimacy, and healthy relationships. Oxytocin is released by men and women during orgasm, and by mothers during childbirth and breastfeeding. With physical affection like kissing, cuddling, and sex, oxytocin levels naturally increase. In order to create strong bonds and improved social interactions, we need oxytocin.
Ways to boost oxytocin:
- playing with a dog
- holding hand
- playing with a baby
- giving compliments
- The most simple way to boost your oxytocin level is to give someone you love a hug. It’s been scientifically proven that inter-personal touch not only raises oxytocin but reduces cardiovascular stress and improves the immune system. For keeping your oxytocin flowing, give at least 8 hugs a day!
- When someone receives a gift, their oxytocin levels can rise. You can help your loved ones boost their oxytocin levels by simply buying them gifts.
Also known as the “pain killer”. Endorphins are your body’s natural pain reliever. They are released in response to pain and stress and help to alleviate anxiety and depression. Similar to morphine, endorphins act as an analgesic and sedative, diminishing our perception of pain.
Ways to boost endorphins:
- dark chocolate
- spicy foods
- essential oils
- Attending a comedy show or watching a comedy movie will increase your levels of endorphins. The easiest way to boost your endorphin levels is to find things to laugh at during the day.
- Aromatherapy is great for increasing your endorphins. It’s been noticed that essential oils such as vanilla and lavender increase the production of endorphins.
The Bottom Line
Hormones are chemicals produced by different glands across your body. They travel through your bloodstream, acting as messengers and playing an important part in many bodily processes. Certain hormones are responsible for regulating your mood, promoting positive feelings, including happiness and pleasure. And now you know how you can boost the levels of those happiness chemicals naturally! Get some sunshine, do some exercising, go for a date, laugh, kiss, hug, and always remember to celebrate your little wins!