When asked — what makes us happy?
We often think of the circumstances, possessions, or people in our lives. In reality, happiness is largely a chemical experience. Certain hormones are known to help promote positive feelings, including happiness and pleasure.
Serotonin may be the best-known happiness chemical because it’s the one that antidepressant medication primarily addresses. Exposure to bright light, especially sunshine, is one way to increase serotonin. Exercise and happy thoughts also stimulate production of this chemical.
Endorphins are opioid neuropeptides, which means they are produced by the central nervous system to help us deal with physical pain. They also make us feel lightheaded, and even giddy at times. One non-painful (well, not too painful) way to induce endorphins is exercise.
Mothers may be familiar with oxytocin, the hormone produced in abundance during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It’s also the high behind MDMA, a popular party drug, which releases oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin is primarily associated with loving touch and close relationships.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter often referred to as the “chemical of reward.” When you score a goal, hit a target, or accomplish a task, you receive a pleasurable hit of dopamine in your brain that tells you you’ve done a good job. But you can also get a natural dose of dopamine when you perform acts of kindness toward others.
It means even when circumstances, possessions, or people in our lives aren’t exactly as we’d like them to be, there are simple ways we can increase our happy brain chemicals and alter our moods.
Isn’t it a great news, here’s a look at how to make the most of these natural mood-boosters.
1. Get outside
Looking to boost your endorphins and serotonin levels? Spending time outdoors, in sunlight, is a great way to do this.
2. Make time for exercise
Exercise has multiple physical health benefits. It can also have a positive impact on emotional well-being.
3. Laugh with a friend
Who hasn’t heard the old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine”?
4. Cook (and enjoy) a favorite meal with a loved one
This tip could — in theory — boost all 4 of your happy hormones
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