happiness chemicals brain

Being in a positive frame of mind is fundamentally important in entrepreneurship. Ask any successful entrepreneur and they will tell you that staying positive is one of the most important keys of success. Joy and happiness are a necessity, and fundamental to our wellbeing.

When we ask ourselves what makes us happy, we often think of the circumstances, possessions, or people in our lives. But did you know that your happiness is a result of four main neurochemicals in your brain?

There are four major chemicals in the brain that influence our happiness —Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, Endorphins. In short, let’s call them DOSE!

Each of these plays a different role in happiness, and is responsible for creating the sensations and emotions we’ve come to associate with happiness.

Sometimes when we feel like nothing is going our way, and all our usual triggers of happiness (people, events, circumstances) are missing, it’s easy to fall into a negative state of mind and be overwhelmed with feelings of not having control.

Science has proven that we can take steps to boost these neurochemicals in our brain and add a DOSE of happiness in our lives. By designing daily experiences that activate these chemicals, you can increase your happiness, productivity, and wellbeing.

Dopamine

Dopamine is what we normally think of as the happiness drug. However, that’s a misconception. Dopamine is actually involved more with anticipation than the actual “happiness” feeling. This is the brain chemical that motivates us and inspires us to take action. Self-doubt and laziness have been linked with low levels of dopamine.

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. Dopamine gets activated when you set goals and achieve them. By breaking big goals into little pieces, you reach the finish line more often. This will cause dopamine to be released when each of your smaller goals is completed.

You can also get a natural dose of dopamine when you perform acts of kindness toward others. You can try volunteering at a charitable organisation or just do something nice for someone in need. Sometimes, it only takes thoughts of loving kindness to bring on the dopamine high.

Read: Five Traits of a Smart Millionaire

Oxytocin

This is often referred to as the cuddle hormone! Oxytocin is released through closeness with another person. It’s what gives you the warm fuzzies by stimulating dopamine and serotonin, while reducing anxiety. To get your hit of oxytocin when you are feeling down, go give someone you love a hug. It could be your significant other, your child, even your pet!

Seratonin

Serotonin may be the best-known happiness chemical because it’s the one that antidepressant medication primarily addresses.  Seratonin is widely understood to control your mood. If you’re in a good mood, you’ve got serotonin to thank. And if you’re in a bad mood, you’ve got serotonin to blame. 

When you are feeling low, reflect on past achievements and practice gratitude. Not only will you feel significant from what you’ve achieved, but by practicing gratitude, you will realise that there is much to be valued in life.

Exposure to bright light, especially sunshine, is one way to increase serotonin. Taking a walk in bright sunshine is the quickest way to boost your mood. Exercise and happy thoughts also stimulate production of this chemical. Several studies have also demonstrated the benefits of getting a massage in boosting serotonin.

Serotonin is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan. Eating protein rich Tryptophan rich foods such as eggs, cheese, pineapples, tofu, nuts and seeds can also help stabilise your mood.

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Endorphins

Endorphins are produced by the central nervous system to help us deal with physical pain. It is responsible for masking pain or discomfort, which explains it’s association with the “fight or flight” mechanism of our bodies.

Endorphins are released after both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. In one study, as little as 30 minutes of walking on a treadmill for 10 days in a row was sufficient to produce a significant reduction in depression among clinically depressed subjects.

Have you heard of the Runner’s High? Runners may experience euphoria, a feeling of being invincible, a reduced state of discomfort or pain, and even a loss in sense of time while running. This feeling is a result of the endorphins being released in to their system.

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By finding a way to activate each of these emotions, you incorporate a little more happiness into your day, which in turn increases productivity. We hope you found these tips helpful.

Let us know in the comments, what you do to get yourself out of a funk, and work towards feelings of happiness?

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