Have you got your D.O.S.E ? The Science of Happiness.

Good News: Yes!! There’s a science to Happiness!! While there is scientific study that can be useful in understanding Happiness better, but Happiness as an idea/state of mind has varied meanings and interpretations that can be best understood and experienced only by the person who has his/her idea of happiness defined for themselves.

If we strip the high-level ideas of Happiness and enter a more primal level of operating, we understand that Happiness boils down to a state of being which is determined ultimately by the presence of certain Chemicals in right mix/proportion in the human body or the brain.

On understanding the simple chemistry of Happiness and how it works, we are able to apply it in our day to day lives and increase the chances of being in a pleasant state of mind throughout the day ( and night).

So, getting to that..

Happiness depends on the regulation, presence, absence and flow of the following D.O.S.E :

  • D: Dopamine
  • O: Oxytocin
  • S: Serotonin
  • E: EndorphinsΒ 

Each of the above elements has a very specific role to play in determining your happiness levels, hence it is important to understand how these work & how you can apply this to make your life a more pleasant experience.

D : Dopamine: ( The Motivation Molecule)

Dopamine works as both; a Neuro Transmitter in the brain & a Hormone and plays various crucial roles in the brain & the body. Dopamine is released in larger amounts in the morning when it’s usually time for us to get out of bed and the levels gradually fall in the evening as we move towards the time to go to sleep.

Responsible for : Providing Drive & Focus. Motivating us to take action towards achieving our Goals and fulfiling our Desires.

How to ensure a healthy flow of Dopamine: Easiest way to do this is create/document small goals, achieve them & celebrate these small victories.

Other activities that can help: Meditating, Getting a Massage, Exercising & Listening to Music.

O: Oxytocin( The Love Molecule):

Oxytocin is a peptide hormone and neuropeptide that promotes emotional Bonding in human beings. ( Neuropeptides are small protein-like molecules that are utilized by neurons to communicate with each other.).

Responsible for: Oxytocin is the chemical foundation for trusting others and it strengthens Emotional Bonds & Fidelity in couples. Levels of Oxytocin skyrocket during the heady initial phases of a new relationship.

Oxytocin is the body’s feel-good chemical that promotes traits like generosity, warmth, trust , openness & altruism.

How to ensure a healthy flow of Oxytocin: Hugging people ( Paul Zak, Ph.D., a pioneer in the field of oxytocin research recommends 8 hugs a day). Other ways include Giving a Gift to someone you care about, Physical exercise ( especially Yoga), cuddling your pet, self-massage ( rubbing your shoulders, your temples and the tight spot between your eyes, Connecting & talking with your Friends, Meditation & listening to Music.

S: Serotonin ( The ” Don’t Worry, Be Happy ” Neurotransmitter)

Serotonin is a Neurotransmitter that promotes the feeling of well being & happiness.

Responsible for:Β Serotonin plays a major role in reducing worries & concerns in addition to promoting well being and happiness. It promotes self-confidence, social engagement & participation, sound deep undisturbed sleep, maintaining a balanced mood & healthy appetite. It is also associated with Learning & memory.

How to ensure a healthy flow of Oxytocin:Β Getting good consistent sleep, getting more Sun, Walking in Sunshine, adequate Vit D intake in the body, Yoga, Meditation, Listening to/playing Music , Dancing , consuming Carbohydrates

E: Endorphins ( The “Feel Good” factor)

The word “Endorphins” comes from { endogenous( from within) + morphine ( an opioid /narcotic pain killer) }. Essentially Endorphins are a group of around 20 feel-good chemicals that occur naturally in the Brain & work like morphine.

Responsible for: Endorphins relieve stress & pain along with mitigating the negative effects of both, thus producing a feeling of feel-good euphoria within us. Endorphins are also responsible for our feelings of pleasure.

How to ensure a healthy flow of Endorphins: Eating Dark chocolate, consuming spicy food, Laughing , exercising with others & lending someone a helping hand.

Elaborating a bit on each.

Chocolate: Interestingly research suggests Chocolates beat Kissing hands down in providing a long-lasting Body & Bran Buzz!! Chocolate invokes the same feelings as that of being in Love. There are several compounds in chocolate that create this magic.

Spicy Food: When you consume spicy food, your body perceives the heat as it causes pain. This causes an endorphins release to put out the fire. This is why spicy food enthusiasts enjoy the post heat pleasure, that makes the pain worthwhile.

Laughing: The average child laughs 300 times per day. Unfortunately, by the time we become adults this number falls to an abysmal 17 times per day.. Yikes!! No wonder, we grow up to be these grumpy human beings as adults. Hence, laughter is very important as it promotes the release of endorphins that boost our mood and immune system & thus our happiness levels.

Just like the act of Smiling even when you aren’t happy, makes you happier, fake laughter releases endorphins too!! Even the anticipation of expected hilarity such as a time when you’re about to watch a funny video or a funny movie releases endorphins. Haah!! Now those groups of old people in the garden standing in circles and deliberately laughing every morning doesn’ seem stupid anymore, right!?

Lending a helping hand: A study done at the US National Institutes of Health found that helping others activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. A flood of endorphins caused by a generous act is called a “Helper’s High”. So help people as often as you can to ensure your own happiness.

That’s all for now!

Stay Healthy & Happy always.

Cheers!
Bhushan
Dad So Kool
Fearless, Committed, Evolved & Involved.

References:

  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/238967.php
  • https://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/jul/15/interview-dr-love-paul-zak
  • https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html
  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-moral-molecule/201311/the-top-10-ways-boost-good-feelings
  • https://www.fastcompany.com/1659062/social-networking-affects-brains-falling-love
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19583647
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9924739
  • https://www.medicinenet.com/endorphins_natural_pain_and_stress_fighters/views.htm
  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6558775.stm
  • https://abcnews.go.com/Health/capsaicin-ingredient-hot-peppers-offers-medical-benefits/story?id=15727011
  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/199607/happily-ever-laughter
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21920973

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