How to Find Happiness Within
“Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur every day than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.”– Benjamin Franklin
Have you ever gotten to the end of a book you really enjoyed or binge watched your favorite Netflix show only to feel let down and depressed when it was over? Why were you in such a rush to get to the end when the book was bringing you so much joy? Wouldn't you like to hold on to that feeling of joy and happiness?
Happiness is not something that comes to an end like a book or a show. Happiness is something that you can bring into your life at any moment. It doesn't have anything to do with landing that job, finding a mate or losing those 10 pounds. It really is in the little things. And it is something you can create from within. Don't worry, I am not going to get all hippy dippy, its science....so try to stay with me......
I want you to imagine a time when you felt “happy”. What were you doing? Chances are you were engaging in one of the activities that releases four feel good chemicals in your body. These four hormones or neurotransmitters are often called our “happy hormones”.
What are they and how can I get more?
The four chemicals are: Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin and Endorphins.
Dopamine. Also known as the “feel-good” hormone, dopamine is a hormone and neurotransmitter that’s an important part of your brain’s reward system.
Serotonin. This hormone (neurotransmitter) helps regulate your mood as well as your sleep, appetite, cognition, digestion and memory.
Oxytocin. Often called the “love hormone", or "bonding chemical” This hormone increases with physical touch such as hugging, cuddling, kissing and sex. This hormone enhances trust, empathy, and bonding in relationships.
Endorphins. These are your body’s natural pain reliever, which your body produces in response to stress or discomfort. Endorphin levels increase when you engage in pleasure activities such as eating, exercise and sex.
Let's take a deeper look at these hormones and how they help create happiness from within.
Dopamine motivates you to take action toward your goals and gives you a surge of reinforcing pleasure when achieving them. Low levels of dopamine often result in procrastination, self-doubt, and boredom.
If you break your big goals down into little pieces, you can keep a steady supply of dopamine flowing. Simple tasks such as making your bed or loading the dishwasher can give you rewards of dopamine when your task is completed. Those of you who get “high” from crossing off tasks from their to-do list know what I am talking about here.
This dopamine is also what is driving you to finish that book and binge watch all the episodes on Netflix. But when that massive high drops, it may leave you feeling depressed.
What can I do to avoid the drop?
“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.”– Earl Nightingale
SAVOR THE MOMENT
Learn to savor the moment and prolong the activity. Do you remember when you had to wait a whole week to see an episode of FRIENDS? The anticipation alone releases feel good hormones.
The best way to keep this dopamine on a steady flow is to be prepared with a list of backup joy....a second book to read, another series to watch, a class to take or trip to book. By constantly feeding the pipe with things that make you happy will keep this flow of dopamine consistent.
“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”– Frederick Keonig
Gratitude helps you shift from a mindset of scarcity to abundance. It is the little things that really are the big things. Keeping a gratitude journal by your bedside and showing appreciation to others will boost your positive feelings.
Serotonin. Both a neurotransmitter and a hormones. it is known to control mood. Serotonin flows when you feel significant or important. Community activities boost these levels. Loneliness and depression are present when serotonin is absent. Serotonin can be a factor to why people fall easily into gangs or are susceptible or lured into cults.
What can I do to boost my mood?
Reflecting on your past achievements allows your brain to re-live the experience. Your brain has trouble telling the difference between what is real and what is imagined, so it produces serotonin in both cases.
“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”– Franklin D. Roosevelt
KEEP A ROCKSTAR FILE
Keep a file of your wins and victories. Have photos around or hang awards and certificate that remind you of when you felt important.
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else.”– Chinese proverb
BE OF SERVICE
Acts of generosity such as volunteering your time, donating blood or simply giving someone else a hand or a smile, can rise your serotonin levels and stave off depression.
“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.” ― Helen Keller
GO TO THE BEACH
It is also shown that exposure to Vitamin-D increases serotonin production so get outside and get some sun.
Oxytocin. Known as the bonding molecule. Oxytocin creates intimacy, trust, and strengthens relationships. It’s released by men and women during orgasm, and by mothers during childbirth and breastfeeding.
“I will not play tug o’ war. I’d rather play hug o’ war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.”― Shel Silverstein
REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE (after Covid-19 restrictions lift, of course.)
Oxytocin is often referred to as “the cuddle hormone". A simple way to keep oxytocin flowing is to give someone a hug. Equestrian therapy and therapy dogs are utilized for this purpose. It also is why stuffed animals and baby dolls are so effective to lift the mood of people who are recovering from illness or injury. So go pet your dog and give your hubby a little squeeze.
“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” – Oscar Wilde
MAKE AN APPOINTMENT FOR THE SPA
The simple act getting shampooed at the hair salon or getting a pedicure can create a surge of Oxytocin in your body. Book that appointment today.
Endorphins are our natural pain killer. Endorphins are released in response to pain and stress. Similar to morphine, when endorphins are released they act as an analgesic and sedative, diminishing feelings of pain.
“Exercise and application produce order in our affairs, health of body, cheerfulness of mind, and these make us precious to our friends”. – Thomas Jefferson
The surging “second wind” and euphoric “runners high” when running are a result of endorphins. When we move our bodies, endorphins are released into our bloodstream. So when you feel your mood has droped, go for a run, take a hike or find a Zumba class.
“Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.” – George Carlin
SEND THAT MEME
Laughter is one of the easiest ways to induce an endorphin release. Anticipating laughter also increases levels of endorphins. Planning to attend a comedy show or forwarding funny YouTube cat videos to a friend can boost endorphin levels.
“There’s a popular saying among doctors: There’s no such thing as alternative medicine; if it works, it’s just called medicine.” ―Ed Yong,I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
Theories suggest acupuncture stimulates peripheral nerves that send messages to the brain to release endorphins (morphine-like compounds); these endorphins block pain pathways in the brain.
“Live simple, love well, and take time to smell the flowers along the way.:” – Mark Twain
KEEP A DIFFUSER AT YOUR DESK AND DARK CHOCOLATE IN YOUR DESK DRAWER
Some scents such as vanilla and lavender have shown to boost the production of endorphins. Dark Chocolate and spicy foods also cause your brain to release endorphins. I think a Mexican Hot Chocolate is in order!
So remember, if you want to feel happy, stop looking outside AND create happiness from within.
Try the following and tell me how it goes...:)
Accomplish 1-2 tasks
Savor the moment
· Be of service
· Get some sun
· Connect with others
· Move your body
· Laugh...a lot..
· Engage your senses
Jennifer Vallens -2020