How to activate your happiness chemicals
... A UN-sponsored report has named Switzerland the third happiest country in the world for the second year running (World Happiness Report 2021).
Yeyyy! But wait…kinda hard to belief during this pandemic and rainy summer, isn’t it? The current weather has definitely taken its toll on my mood and if you are just a liiiiiiiittle bit annoyed as well, this blog post is definitely for you!
We experience a variety of emotions throughout the day and we already learned what importance those emotions play in Emotional Intelligence. At the core of all our feelings –- be it excitement about all the rain dances we are able to perform or the annoyance of not being able to wear our flip flops and sunglasses outside right now - are brain chemicals that affect our mood. These chemicals work together every second of your day to regulate not only your mood, but also your perception and view on life.
Today we are focusing on the four happiness chemicals that can put a huge smile on our faces - yes, even on rainy days - with effects ranging from boosting pleasure and satisfaction to controlling stress and anxiety:
Is a neurotransmitter produced by the hypothalamus, a small region of the brain that helps you feel pleasure. It’s an important part in your reward system, meaning the brain releases dopamine when you do things that feel good or pleasurable or when you complete a task. Dopamine also helps with movement and motivation.
Is another neurotransmitter produced when you feel satisfaction or importance. It’s associated with satisfaction and optimism, and also has a role in our physical health. It also helps regulate your sleep, appetite and mood. Many anti-depressant medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) that help boost levels of serotonin.
Is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland that produces feelings of love and connection. Also known as the cuddle or love hormone, the brain may produce oxytocin during human-to-human contact such as hugging, kissing, sex or maternal behavior such as childbirth or breastfeeding.
Are opioid peptides produced by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands that operate as neurotransmitters. They are considered natural pain relievers and mood boosters and trigger positive feelings when you do something you enjoy such as having sex, laughing, eating chocolate or exercising. They also stimulate pain relief, which is the same reaction that occurs chemically when taking prescription opioids. The euphoric feeling endorphins produce helps mask pain.
If those chemicals have such a positive effect, why not boost them to even higher levels? The good news, doing so doesn’t require a secret code. All it takes is a few simple tasks and basic planning to encourage the release of these happiness chemicals in the brain. Let's have a look:
We often think positive events will make us happy – a new romantic relationship or getting a promotion, for example – but in reality, this kind of happiness effect doesn’t last. Instead, science shows it’s the little things we do every day that build happiness over time.
So the most important thing is to ensure we try to incorporate those natural mood-boosting activities into our day-to-day lives. And what better time to try it out than right now, braving the bad weather and actually dancing in the rain.