Happiness is an amorphous concept. It could mean different to different people. For me, it’s having loving moments with my family and living a satisfying and prosperous life; for you, it could be achieving your dreams and being fit holistically; and for others, it could be traveling across the world or doing anything that interests them. There’s no single definition that defines happiness; however, there are plenty of factors that contribute to the science of happiness.
Extrinsic factors, such as our life experiences, social status, education, career popularity, health, responsibilities, achievements, etc., are critical for happiness. However, there’s something within you that drives your pleasure.
We often focus on the things or the ways that make us happy, but we actually don’t know how we feel it.
Do you have any idea how this happens? Not really? It’s fine. Let us help you in grasping this.
Our happiness is controlled by some chemicals. Yes, you heard that right. These are the brain chemicals released in our bodies that make us feel happy and lively. The brain chemicals are D.O.S.E, dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins.
To gain a better understanding of an individual’s well-being and living a meaningful life, it’s crucial to understand the science behind happiness.
If you are still pondering what the science of happiness is, go through the blog till the end. This will help you find what truly makes you happy.
What is happiness?
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” —Mahatma Gandhi.
Happiness, in general, is anything and everything that makes you feel lively and gratified. These are the positive emotions that surface in our bodies and manifest in our behavior and actions.
Happiness, according to science, is simply the presence of positive emotions that gives us pleasure and comfort and the absence of negative ones that disturb our emotional well-being.
Positive emotions such as comfort, pleasure, hope, and inspiration fill us with vitality and contentment. This allows us to progress and flourish in our lives. There isn’t a single factor but many that influence happiness. Positive versus negative emotions, wealth, attachments, goals, and health, to name some.
The science of Happiness.
When considering happiness, we often think of extrinsic factors that promote pleasant and positive emotions. However, there is a science behind our happiness that explains what it is, how we experience it, how it influences our behaviors and actions, and what we can do to be happy. Let us go over the specifics of the science of happiness.
Neurotransmitters: Chemicals that make you happy.
We, humans, always want to spend a life full of happiness, satisfaction, and positivity. We want to be free of negative thoughts, pains, and failures and experience anything and everything that brings us comfort and pleasure.
Scientifically, our structures are designed to support our emotions by releasing chemicals called neurotransmitters into our brains and bodies that strengthen our feelings and make us feel good.
The nerve fibers in our brains release multiple chemicals or neurotransmitters that influence happiness.
In this section, we’ll go over the major happy chemicals that make us feel joyous and energetic, including dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced by the hypothalamus in the brain. It supports various processes, including movement, memory, sleep, arousal, learning, etc., which are critical for proper body functioning.
Now you might be wondering, does it make us feel happy? Surely it does. It plays a prominent role in the science of happiness.
Dopamine is a major component of the reward system. It is released when you accomplish your goal, whether big or small, or fulfill a task that makes you feel delightful. It’s called the “feel-good” hormone, which is responsible for instant gratification.
It reinforces you and motivates your body to accomplish your set objectives to fulfill your distant goals and overflow your body with happiness and satisfaction whenever you get closer to your destination or do or feel something that gives you joy.
Do dopamine levels impacts you?
Dopamine is a vital brain chemical that keeps you motivated and pleased.
A low level of dopamine can impair healthy functioning, which might impact an individual’s concentration and capabilities to accomplish long-term goals and, worst, put people into depression or lead to other mood disorders.
How to maintain the optimum level of dopamine?
We can increase its level naturally but to take measures, you may practice exercise and avoid processed food, caffeine, and sugar. In addition, getting good sleep is the best way to maintain high dopamine levels.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter produced in the brain and the intestines, which is essential for many bodily functions. It helps with a variety of processes, including mood regulation, digestion, sleep patterns, development, and memory. And, yes, similar to dopamine, serotonin also contributes to your happiness.
Serotonin is a chemical that flows within your body whenever you feel loved and valued by your dear ones. It elicits strong positive emotions and is, therefore, another happy chemical that influences contentment and fulfillment.
It is also referred to as a mood stabilizer as it helps in processing emotions, influencing an individual’s behavior and mood. Serotonin is a social chemical that boosts self-esteem and confidence and nurtures a relationship that roots out from respect and loyalty.
Do serotonin levels impact you?
Higher levels of serotonins boost the feeling of well-being, confidence, and contentment, making you agreeable and friendly, while low levels make you irritable and hostile and might lead to multiple physical and mental problems.
How to maintain the optimum level of serotonin?
We can increase serotonin levels by taking care of our diet, going out in the sunlight, having proper sleep and exercise, trying massage therapy, socializing with loved ones, and doing what makes us happy.
If you’ve ever craved a hug, your body is most likely looking for oxytocin.
The third neurotransmitter in the same row is oxytocin. It is produced by the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland. It promotes feelings of love and affection and is often known as the “love hormone.”
Oxytocin is the primary cause of human social behavior and the development of strong positive emotions such as love, friendship, and trust. It is referred to as a “social chemical” that generates long-lasting feelings of affection, calm, and safety.
Whenever you express a kind gesture, cuddle your partner, or get a hug from your friend or family member, your body releases oxytocin. It makes you feel loved and overjoyed.
Oxytocin is a hormone that is essential for birthing, lactation, and parent-child attachment. In addition, it helps in the reduction of stress, the enhancement of immunity, the improvement of problem-solving skills, and the development and strengthening of relationships.
How to boost the level of oxytocin?
Oxytocin levels generally rise in response to physical affection. In order to boost the oxytocin flow in your body, create positive social interactions, and spend quality time with your loved ones. In addition, sharing meals, gifts, and hugs with near and dear ones also boosts oxytocin levels.
Endorphins are the neurotransmitter that is released by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. It runs throughout your body during various physical activities, producing relaxing effects. These are the natural pain reliever of your body that are produced in response to discomfort and stress conditions. They help you push yourself beyond your comfort levels, fill you with great energy, and persist when you want to give up.
In addition to relieving pain and stress, endorphins enhance pleasure and comfort. Along with dopamine, these are a part of the reward system. These are released when you are engaged in eating, dancing, walking, having a good massage, working out, and even when intimating with a partner.
In addition, endorphins help you boost your self-esteem and sense of well-being. It powers you up to perform regular functions, as well building relationships and strengthen your social bonds.
Do endorphin levels impact you?
Endorphins are critical for proper functioning. Their low levels can cause stress, anxiety, depression, pain, impulsive behaviors, sleep disorders, and more. Endorphins are the reason an individual struggling with stress is recommended to exercise. These produce great relaxing effects and generate the feeling of goodness and well-being.
How to maintain the level of endorphin?
If you want to maintain and boost your endorphins level, practice regular exercise, perform self-care, dance and listen to your favorite music, enjoy what you like, and laugh with your loved ones.
Cortisol: The enemy of our happiness.
Now that we have gone through the major happy chemicals that make us feel pleasant and cheerful, it’s vital to introduce you to a chemical that hampers our happiness as well as well-being.
As humans, it’s common to have decreased levels of happy chemicals due to some biological conditions or outer circumstances. These can be typically balanced through healthy diets, performing regular exercise, and doing what makes us happy.
However, people sticking to unhealthy lifestyles and undergoing continuous stress can be the victim of cortisol, a deadly chemical that can proactively inhibit the happy chemicals that contribute to happiness. It’s a stress hormone released during 3F (flight, fight, and fright) conditions.
Cortisol is released by our adrenal glands that help regulate blood pressure, blood glucose, sleep, and reduce inflammation.
When you live a stressful life, the cortisol level in your body rises, which hampers the production of happy hormones and lowers your happiness. In addition, these impact other critical bodily functions such as blood sugar and blood pressure levels, memory and concentration abilities, and digestive and immune systems, leading to other serious medical conditions.
How to maintain the level of cortisol?
If you desire to keep your cortisol levels in check, make sure you live a healthy lifestyle, get enough sleep, avoid caffeine, have fun and laugh with loved ones, relax with meditation and exercise, and avoid overthinking.
How to boost your happy chemicals?
The happiness you are looking for outside is hidden within. You only have to love yourself and practice self-care to live an energetic and pleasureful life.
Despite the outer forces, there are multiple factors in the science of happiness that promote the production of happy chemicals inside your body. Ensure to follow the understated practices to keep your happy chemicals at optimum level as well as boost their production to change your perspective toward life.
1. Take a nutritious diet.
Most of us love to have high-caloric and fast foods and find them hard to resist because of their tempting tastes. However, they only give you short-term happiness. The quality of food not only impacts your health but can hamper your mood and behavior.
Healthy, nutritious food can help you grow and develop holistically, which can be a long-term investment in future well-being.
Ensure to include healthy foods in your regular diet, including fruits, veggies, and others full of nutrition.
People often take their health for granted and always have multiple reasons to distance themselves from exercising. Getting regular exercise not only helps you keep physically fit and healthy but has great positive impacts on your mental state as well. In addition to keeping you fit, workouts help you stimulate the production of valuable hormones, some of which are majorly related to your happiness, including dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins.
Get enough time from your busy schedules and practice regular exercise to keep yourself holistically fit and happy.
3. Perform fulfilling activities and do what makes you happy.
We always feel energetic and happy whenever we get involved in activities that we enjoy.
It can be exploring new places, spending time with loved ones, dancing or listening to favorite music, or even spending alone time with yourself. All these can vanish your stress and make you calm and relaxed, which overflows your body with happy hormones, including oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphin, that contribute to your pleasure.
Frequently involve yourself in anything you love and be the controller of your happiness.
4. Get enough sleep.
Isn’t everything feel messed up when you don’t have enough sleep? Certainly, it does.
Getting good sleep is vital for your health, proper body functioning, and performing day-to-day activities. In addition, inadequate sleep impacts your mood and behavior.
Ensure to get good sleep to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of your emotional well-being.
5. Be courageous to face stress.
In life, we all can get into stressful conditions at times. However, letting stress take over your happiness is not a solution. Be strong enough, understand that it’s not only you who is facing such a situation, and meet the circumstances boldly and smartly.
Address your problems, talk with your loved ones and try to figure out practical solutions. Don’t let the stress impact your well-being and happiness. There’s always a ray of hope in the darkness.
# All of these will help you maintain a healthy environment around and inside you ensuring the flow of happy chemicals that will keep you joyful and cherished and live a life full of comfort, satisfaction, and happiness.
Be the master of your happiness!
Life is full of uncertainties, and no one can be happy all the time. Life can reward you with wonderful surprises or put you in great pain and sorrow. But that’s how life is.
We must not hold onto the past and miss the opportunities life offers us from time to time. Be bold to face the circumstances, be optimistic and live a meaningful life.
While extrinsic variables can have a significant impact on our feelings and behaviors, our intrinsic settings are equally responsible for keeping us happy and energetic.
Remember, you can’t control the outer world, but you can surely maintain your inner peace by maintaining the levels of your happy chemicals.
Hope this detailed guide has helped you understand the scientific approach to happiness.
The science of happiness familiarizes you with real happiness and guides you through the ways to in opposing circumstances.
Get closer to your loved ones, do what you like, and change your attitude toward life.
No one can stop you from living the life you desire. Be happy, be positive and get the most out of your lives!