Happiness is inside us. Our brain cells can secrete substances bringing the feeling of joy and delight about. Dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin are antidepressant constituents that make us happy. Actually, these are ingredients of bliss. But what are their actuating recipes? How can we evoke feeling great while doing everyday affairs?
From amongst a vast pallet of chemical agents in our body, only some small part has been discovered and investigated. Nonetheless, even this fraction enables us to evolve lifestyles, habits and actions to enhance our internal sunshine.
Serotonin and its mission
Serotonin is inseparable from the sense of confidence, well-being and security. Many antidepressants contain catalysts of serotonin. Such drugs as LSD and Extasy also beget this joy hormone.
Interestingly, we can ignite it by ourselves through sensing pleasant odors, sun exposure (photostimulation) and sweet treats. Glucose is essential in serotonin synthesis, so some people’s sweet cravings have a clear explanation. You may also do physical and breathing exercises, and your serotonin levels will soar.
Beware of too high serotonin concentration, since it may cause adverse effects, including hallucinations. Although exceeding the normal levels it possible only with synthetic preparations.
Endorphins and what triggers them
The word “endorphin” means “morphine inside the body”. The human pituitary gland and hypothalamus produce endorphins which have pain-killing properties, similar to opiates.
Intensive physical exercises (both aerobic and anaerobic) and sexual intercourse trigger the secretion of endorphins thus making our spirit exuberate.
Set targets and get them achieved. This is the way to create plenty of dopamine in our brain. This is a hormone of reward and high self-esteem.
Extraverts are naturally more prone to higher dopamine concentrations than introverts. To refill dopamine levels, some people resort to false goal-setting. For instance, search for reactions to posts in social media, such as likes, comments and views, is a way of conduct which covers lack of dopamine. What is more dangerous, drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine also contribute to intense dopamine production.
Oxytocin is a hormone resulting from human affection, loyalty and romance.
No breastfeeding is possible without oxitocin soaring in the mother touching her child. For couples, it is essential to contact skin to skin, and the resulting oxytocin greatly contributes to mutual love and trust.
For the feeling of togetherness, one more hormone similar to oxytocin is generated in men. It is vasopressin. Its origins are the same as of oxitocin: gentle touching, hugging, and intimacy.
For scientists, pet owners also appear to have increased oxytocin levels since pets arouse the feeling of affection. Cuddling with them really delivers happiness.
The Cannabis plant is becoming increasingly popular and… legal(!) in many countries. Scientists have found plenty of evidence that this plant positively affects the human nervous system and physical processes. As a matter of fact, the human body self-produces substances similar to cannabinoids thus called endocannabinoids. They represent a vast field for future research.
One of the Cannabis-advocating studies took place in the University of Arizona in 2012. Running athletes showed the highest endocannabinoids secretion. In the world of animals, dogs demonstrate the same. Cardio trainings generate the same awesome result. Such self-production underlies the feeling of bliss felt after aerobic activities.
So go beyond the computerized world, go running, break your zone of comfort, set goals and achieve them, be with your beloved ones… And be happy!