You know when they say, “your happiness lies within you”. Well, turns out not only spiritually but scientifically also, this statement holds true. That feeling of adrenaline rushing and gushing in your veins which you experience when you do something that you thoroughly enjoy.
Essentially, for a runner it could be running a certain number of miles, for a surgeon it could be performing a successful surgery, for a musician it could be playing a specific instrument to their heart’s glory, for me it is burning the midnight oil and writing this article, so on and so forth. It’s during those instances that these particular biochemical processes in your brain occur that are responsible for filling you up with such effervescence. They release the so-called ‘happy hormones’ and neurotransmitters which put you in a state of joy. There’s a reason why it is said, “do what makes you happy” (as long as you’re not harming anyone while creating happiness for yourself).
Balancing the imbalance in Brain Chemistry
As clichéd as it may sound but if you ponder over it everything that each one of us does every day, somewhere or the other is in the pursuit of happiness. However, can you define happiness? It is a mere burst of neurochemicals. A well-nourished brain is a happy brain. Therefore, feed your brain a balanced diet of happy chemicals.
A study published in Psychological Science in 2008 found that there are certain genes you inherit which account for 50% of our happiness. In spite of your genetic makeup placing you at a certain position on the scale of happiness, there are still ways you can manifest positivity and joy for yourself. Essentially, you need to bring your A-game when it comes to the maintenance of your brain health. It’s because your brain is a humble abode to these neurochemicals that are responsible for making you feel all kinds of emotions.
The most important factor to focus on here is the lifestyle changes you need to implement on a daily basis. Understand the habits of a happy brain and then align yourself with those happy habits. Once you’ve figured that out, you’ll be in a state of tranquility. Based on our lifestyle choices in our day to day activities, Hormones and neurotransmitters channel our feelings of well-being. The good news is there are ways to boost those neurochemicals.
The researchers are consistently diving deep into their research to find all the neurochemicals that affect our feelings. However, with the brain producing hundreds of chemicals there’s a good chance that the scientists won’t be able to identify all in the span of one lifetime.
Know how to enjoy a balanced happy chemical diet – natural ways of triggering the happy hormones
The perfect synergy of the happy hormones will not only give you those warm fuzzies of blissfulness but will also make you experience an everlasting power of being in control of your own emotions. As mentioned earlier, there aren’t very many of those that have been discovered yet but even if we gain the command over a few that have been unveiled by our learned researchers, it’ll definitely go a long way!
To get you acquainted with a few of the identified ones that are known to control our well-being and giving us that ‘ecstatic effect’ are: –
- Dopamine – dopamine is that neurochemical which is considered to be extremely closely related to our happiness. It is also called the ‘reward molecule’ because it drives our brain’s reward mechanism or the pleasure-seeking behavior. You must have experienced an immense exuberance when you’re complimented at work or school or anywhere else for a praiseworthy deed. You’re able to feel that joy because you get a delicious dopamine hit when you’re admired for any of your traits. So, boost this hormone by performing the actions which will make you feel proud of yourself, set realistic and achievable goals (overachievers hope you’re taking a note). There’s no harm in chasing your dreams with the speed of a cheetah but takeout some time to acknowledge your accomplishments and bathe in the glory of your successes (don’t let it get to your head too much though, make sure your feet are on the ground).
- Endorphins – endorphins are your body’s natural painkillers. Ironically, they’re triggered when you’re in physical pain. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be excruciating. There’s a reason why a good sex-life is recommended because that strenuous activity, orgasm during a sexual intercourse help release a bountiful of endorphins for you. They’re also linked to a runner’s high; therefore, when you make your body go through that kind of strain or any other form of exercise, you’ll encounter bliss. You can also pump up some endorphins by eating palatable food, listening to music or relishing some chocolate as cocoa also contains some mood-elevating substances.
- Serotonin – this neurochemical is one of the chief ingredients of many anti-depressants. It is used to treat depression, as well as treat panic disorders, eating disorders, anxiety, chronic pain, OCD and PTSD. That’s because it promotes the feelings of self-confidence, relieves depression and makes you cheerful as well as affable. Since serotonin is associated with the feelings of love and longing, you can enhance it by spending time with your loved ones, keeping a gratitude journal, basking in the sun as vitamin D aids in fighting depression, boosting immunity along-with strengthening our bones.
- Adrenaline – Adrenaline is a close relative to dopamine. It is also known as the energy molecule, causing increase in blood pressure and heart rate. We’re all fairly familiar with the term, ‘adrenaline rush’. This rush makes people feel very alive and can be triggered when a person is in times of distress or in a scary situation. Interestingly, playing sports can generate the same pattern.
- Oxytocin – oxytocin works with loyalty and trust and is referred to as the intimacy and bonding molecule. it’s been found to cause behavioral and physiological effects “such as maternal, sexual and social behaviors.” Because oxytocin levels go up during breastfeeding, hugging, sexual-intercourse, and skin-to-skin contact, it’s often cited as the ‘hug hormone’ or the ‘bonding hormone.’ Many studies have shown that lack of physical contact between a couple reduces the oxytocin level, which drives the longing for re-bonding with the same person. If you want to increase this hormone, make sure to cuddle with your loved ones and be a part of group activities.
There are a couple of more hormones like, progesterone, estrogen, GABA, endocannabinoids, norepinephrine, melatonin, that are responsible for our ebullience but I wouldn’t want to bombard you with too much information. However, one of the most common and cardinal components which kept on popping-up during my research for this article that influences and enhances our happy hormones is, exercise. Clearly, there’s a reason why fitness is associated with physical and mental agility. So, I’m going to pull up my socks, get my running shoes on and go for a run. Hope you’ll try to incorporate some form of exercise in your lifestyle too, stay happy!
The writer is Entrepreneurial Biotechnologist with a strong passion for quality healthcare, patient advocacy & patient education.
The information in the article should not be used as a substitute for medical advice, treatment or diagnosis.