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Unlocking Happiness: How to get your daily DOSE of happy chemicals

Happiness is not just a state of mind, but something that can be chemically induced in our brains. There are chemicals in our brain that can influence our mood and emotions, and knowing how to trigger them can help us feel happier and more fulfilled. Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins (commonly referred to as DOSE) are the four primary chemicals that play a crucial role in regulating our moods and emotions.


Understanding these chemicals and their role in our happiness is essential for developing strategies to boost them.


Dopamine

The chemical dopamine, aka the "reward" chemical is released when we experience pleasure. It's responsible for motivation, focus, and goal-directed behaviour. Low levels of dopamine can lead to feelings of apathy, lack of motivation, and depression.


Some strategies to increase dopamine include:

  • Set achievable goals and reward yourself when you achieve them.

  • Engage in activities that you enjoy, such as hobbies or sports.

  • Exercise regularly, which increases dopamine levels and reduces stress.

  • Listen to music that you enjoy and dance to it.

  • Getting sufficient sunlight in the morning.

  • Eat foods that are high in protein, such as fish, chicken, and nuts.


Oxytocin

Oxytocin is often called the "love hormone" because it is released when we connect with others. It's responsible for feelings of trust, intimacy, and connection. Low levels of oxytocin can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and anxiety.


To increase levels of oxytocin:

  • Spend time with loved ones, such as family and friends.

  • Practice physical touch, such as hugging, holding hands, and cuddling.

  • Volunteer or do acts of kindness for others.

  • Practice mindfulness and meditation, which can increase feelings of compassion and empathy.


Serotonin

Serotonin handles mood regulation, appetite, and sleep. It's often referred to as the "feel-good" chemical because it contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being. Low levels of serotonin can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and irritability.


Strategies to keep your serotonin levels high include:

  • Spend time in nature and get some sunlight, which can boost serotonin levels.

  • Exercise regularly, which can increase serotonin levels and reduce stress.

  • Practice gratitude by keeping a daily gratitude journal.

  • Eat foods that are high in tryptophan, such as turkey, nuts, and seeds.

  • Get enough sleep, as lack of sleep can decrease serotonin levels.


Endorphins

Endorphins are often referred to as the "painkiller" chemical because they are released in response to stress or pain. They're responsible for feelings of euphoria, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. Low levels of endorphins can lead to feelings of fatigue, stress, and depression.


Strategies to get those endorphins flowing include:

  • Exercise regularly, especially high-intensity workouts.

  • Laugh and have fun by engaging in activities that you enjoy.

  • Listen to music that you enjoy and dance to it.

  • Eat spicy foods, which can release endorphins.

  • Practice deep breathing or meditation, which can reduce stress and increase endorphins.


In a nutshell, understanding DOSE chemicals and how they affect our happiness is key to living a more fulfilling life. By doing things that boost these chemicals, we can improve our mood, reduce stress, and feel pretty darn good.


References

  1. Bergland, Christopher. “The Neurochemicals Of Happiness”. Psychology Today, 2019, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201211/the-neurochemicals-happiness.

  2. Dsouza, Josmitha & Chakraborty, Anirban & Veigas, Jacintha. (2020). Biological Connection to the Feeling of Happiness. JOURNAL OF CLINICAL AND DIAGNOSTIC RESEARCH. 14. 10.7860/JCDR/2020/45423.14092.



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