Want to be Happier? What the Science Says

February 25, 2022 by Raquel Neal

Want to be Happier? What the Science Says

Want to be Happier? What the Science Says

After having a bad day, do you ever find yourself craving something that can provide instant comfort or relief from the stress? Whether that be eating a whole pint of ice cream or going to the gym, you might notice that your once sour mood has now become more cheerful.

However, it’s not necessarily the ice cream or treadmill itself that is causing this newly awakened happiness, but rather the increase of chemicals in your brain that comes as a result. In other words, if you’re seeking ways to live a more joyous and happy life, knowing the science behind happiness is a good way to start.

The Intersection of Science and Happiness

The brain contains over 100 different chemicals that are each uniquely designed to guide our emotions and behavior. They control how we are feeling mentally and physically, help us with falling asleep and waking up, and even let us know when we feel hungry and full.

Four of these chemicals are specifically tied to our well-being and may just be the key needed to unlock a meaningful life. Here are the brain chemicals that research shows as governing our happiness:

  1. Dopamine: Responsible for the feelings of pleasure that are earned after taking part in something you enjoy.
  2. Serotonin: Helps with regulating moods and gives a sense of euphoria.
  3. Oxytocin: The warm and fuzzy feelings experienced when connecting with others in a social setting.
  4. Endorphins: Relieves feelings of physical or emotional pain and stress.

How to be in control of your brain chemicals

What is incredibly fascinating about the brain is that we have the ability to increase or decrease its chemicals in order to promote our body and mind to a state of satisfaction. By simply adding some habits to your daily life, increasing these four brain chemicals is an achievable goal. 

Here are 3 things you can add to your daily routine to increase your brain chemicals naturally:

1. Reward yourself.

Life tends to be a cycle of waking up, eating, completing our to-do list, more eating, and before you know it, it’s nighttime and you are back in bed. As simple as this routine may sound, you may know that it’s anything but. The work we put forth everyday often goes unnoticed by our boss, coworkers, friends, and even by ourselves. 

It’s time to start giving credit where credit is due for our day-to-day accomplishments. Treating yourself to occasional rewards won’t only motivate you to finish your tasks, but you will begin to notice an ease of stress and even a sense of pleasure. Such rewards can include giving into your food cravings, allowing yourself to buy that item you’ve had your eye on for a while, or even allowing yourself to read your favorite book for an hour or two. The rewards act as reinforcers toward your accomplishments, boosting up those dopamine levels to give an enhanced sense of happiness. 

2. Nourish your body.

The food you put into your body as well as how much physical activity you do can directly impact how well you function throughout the day. An unbalanced diet that heavily excludes or leans towards one food group can put you in a lethargic and gloomy mood. Additionally, not partaking in any physical movement can also have similar effects. 

Finding the right balance in terms of your diet and how active you are can tremendously improve your mood and overall performance. This is because increased levels of serotonin come as a result of a balanced diet and exercise. This does not mean you have to eat a diet consisting only of salads, or partake in intense exercise, but by incorporating a variety of nutrient-dense foods and even just as little as 20-minute walks into your regimen is enough to boost serotonin levels in your brain.

3. Alone time vs. Social time.

Would you consider yourself an extrovert or introvert? Being alone promotes creativity, which is great for developing novel perspectives and insights. However, there is also great value in being a part of a group as they can further motivate you to chase your passions. It’s important to find the balance of alone time and social time that most feeds your motivation. Finding your own brand of balance will do wonders towards your mood and overall character growth. 

Finding comfort in being alone can help you destress and improve your mood. This is a result of your endorphin levels rising, especially if you are partaking in activities that you find soothing, such as listening to music or meditating. Bonding with others, on the other hand, has been linked with increased oxytocin release which not only puts you in a happier mood, but also has been seen to strengthen one’s relationships with others.

A Happy Body and a Happy Mind

The human body is truly an amazing source that cares for us and provides us with all the essentials needed to live a joyful and healthy life. You can further aid in care for your body and express gratitude toward it by using the tips above to begin aligning your chemicals to an appropriate nature, resulting in a happier lifestyle.


You may also enjoy this Coaching to Flourish video on Cultivating a Healthy Mindset.

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