What is happiness? For humans, it’s the feeling of joy, cheer, pleasure, etc. However, did you know that happiness is different for everyone?
Yes, that is right. Reality is, happiness is a combination of nature and nurture that results in unique chemical -- hormonal -- reactions in your brain. This is further explained in a world-renowned 2005 scientific article that examines how happiness relates to genetics, circumstances, and activities or practices. Hint, all of them are important, but the pursuit of activities or practices is the most important.
Now, that said, while everyone experiences it differently, the good news is, you can hack your brain chemicals to boost happiness by triggering hormone production.
What Are Happy Hormones?
The “feel-good'' or “pleasure” hormone, dopamine, is a neurotransmitter that is a vital part of your brain's reward system. It is the very thing that helps you achieve goals, desires, and needs. Without dopamine, you will not enjoy nice sensations, learning, memory, motor skills, and more. Typically, dopamine is triggered when the body undergoes an action that, well, feels good.
The “mood-regulator” hormone, serotonin is a neurotransmitter made from the amino acid tryptophan -- yes, that stuff found in turkey and other foods -- that works to stabilize the body, increase appetite, trigger sleep, and control mood. Without serotonin the general feeling of happiness is impossible. And, in this light, low levels of serotonin lead to inability to rest, depression, and anxiety.
The “bonding” or “love” hormone, oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that secretes from the pituitary gland. When excreted into the body’s system, it helps to increase feelings of trust, connectedness, empathy, etc. Production of this chemical is known to be triggered by touch and closeness.
The “natural pain reliever” or “comfort” hormone, endorphins are neurotransmitters that help you cope with the feeling that something is wrong -- physically and mentally. When endorphin levels are low, you may become overwhelmed with the sense that everything is imploding. Not a great way to live, luckily, endorphins are produced through things like exercise -- hello runners high, eating, intimacy, laughing, and so much more.
10 Ways To Tiggers These Happy-Mood Makers
1. Get Outside
Beyond movement and breathing fresh air, getting outside will expose your body to sunlight. Which is a natural trigger for serotonin. Also, let's not forget, when you are outside, try to put the phone down. Let your mind wander and your eyes soak up the good mood.
As mentioned above, when you move your body, endorphins are released. But, it doesn’t stop there. Regular exercise is also a good way to boost the production of dopamine and serotonin. To help you on your path to get your blood moving, start small -- 15 minutes -- and try working out with a friend.
Ever heard of something called a laugher club? Basically, a group of people that get together and giggle, reality is, these clubs are great ways to decrease stress. This is because, the act of laughing, releases three of the happiness chemicals -- oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins. Laughter really is the best remedy.
4. Cook and Eat
If you are looking to boost all four happiness chemicals in one activity, this is it. First, food and hormones go hand in hand. By that, we mean, endorphins are linked to spices, dopamine is linked to fats -- chocolate, yogurt, cheese -- and serotonin is tryptophan. Second, when you are cooking -- alone or with a loved one -- oxytocin is boosted through the act of doing something nice.
More than just eating the right foods, you can take it a step further by finding natural supplements designed to increase happy hormones. These include tyrosine, green tea, probiotics, B vitamins, and magnesium. Not into taking pills? At DYLN we use magnesium in our VitaBeads, therefore drinking Alkaline Water could be for you.
Sometimes easier said than done, truth is, relaxing is a wonderful way to trigger the production of dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin hormones. So, here are a few ways you can plan to relax -- get a message, meditate, read a book, breathe deeply, or take a bath.
No matter who you are, no matter what kind you like, music is a universal thing that brings pleasure. In fact, listening to music that you enjoy is a great way to boost oxytocin levels significantly.
8. Cold Water
From drinking a refreshing gulp to splashing it on your face, modern research has found that water, specifically cold, is a great mood enhancer. Beyond combating dehydration it can help slow your heartbeat and heavy breathing. Elevate your mood no matter where you are by taking water on the go with you in a nice stainless steel bottle.
Humans are hardwired to crave touch as well as be around each other. So, being in the general proximity of someone you love is naturally a mood enhancer. But, to take it one step further, hugging is found to release oxytocin. Therefore, make sure to give as many hugs in a day as you can!
10. Pet An Animal
Ever give a dog a hug or stroke a cat's back only to find yourself pleasantly relaxed? If yes, it is because much like hugging and relaxing or laughing, touching something soft -- something that also has unconditional love -- releases oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins, and you guessed it, dopamine. With that, spending time petting an animal is always a great way to trigger happy chemicals.
Be Patient With Your Mood
Before we go, we want to remind you of one thing. Having moods change is a normal part of being human. If we didn't get sad, tired, angry, excited, or happy, we would not be us. Therefore, be patient with your mood and be kind to yourself. And, when in need, take into consideration the outside factors related to it. If you feel stressed or anxious take a walk, enjoy a ‘comfort food’ meal, hug your bestie, and let it all go. The future looks to be full of happiness for you!
What are some ways that you plan to hack your brain chemicals in the future? If you know anything about DYLN you will know that we are excited to drink fresh mineral enhanced water on the go!