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What Chemical In Your Brain Makes You Happy

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How To Hack Your Happiness Hormones

Happy Brain Chemicals: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, endorphin

Charlene Yared-West

01 June 2021

Happiness, as it turns out, isnt just a feeling. By maintaining the hormonal balance of the bodys four happy hormones, youll keep your mood and mind functioning optimally.

Most researchers on the topic of happiness agree that both nature and nurture play a role. A well-known 2005 study by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Kennon M Sheldon and David Schkade devised a happiness pie chart, which suggested that happiness was made up of 50% genetics, 10% life circumstances and 40% intentional activities.

This is good news as it gives you considerable leeway to improve your happiness levels, no matter where you find yourself on that scale. Nutritional medicine practitioner Beatrice Rabkin explains how to improve the chemicals in the brain that make you happy.

Together These Chemicals Create Desirable Brain States

Experiences that release the DOSE neurochemicals make us happy, which makes us want more of the same. Does a desire to return to the same experience sound like a desire you probably have for your customers? Yes, it certainly does: customer loyalty. Gamified user experiences created with neuroscience in mind keep consumers coming back for more.

Whether those experiences are created to keep employees returning to your LMS for more gamified training, or to keep readers revisiting your site for more gamified content, this scientifically-backed approach works. Its the reason gamification is expected to grow to a $5.5 billion industry by the end of 2018, and the reason you should be thinking about how to include gamified experiences into your technology.

The Takeaways:

  • There are four primary chemicals in the brain that effect happiness: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins

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Listen to more episodes of the TechnologyAdvice podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes, or follow us on Twitter, . If you are in the market for gamification software, we can help. Use our nifty Product Selection Tool to find the gamification software to best fit your needs.

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Chemicals Hormones And The Brain

Some of these neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, are also hormones or have some effect in releasing hormones in the body. Adrenaline, cortisol, melatonin, and other hormones can affect your mood or even influence the health of your brain.

Cortisol is a hormone released when youre stressed. Its helpful at times, but too much of it for too long can cause memory loss as you age.

Imbalances in neurotransmitters are present in many conditions, including schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, autism, and Parkinsons disease. Some medications target these receptors to allow your body to receive more or less of certain chemicals, while some drugs act similar to these chemicals to invoke similar responses in your body.

Maintaining a balance in these brain chemicals and hormones is key to feeling a balanced mood. You can help maintain this health to some extent through a balanced diet, limited stress, and exercise.

Read Also: Neuronal Toxicity

What Can Balanced Well

Escaping the grip of depression often requires the strong inept hands of others experienced at diagnosing and treating what is triggering the depressive symptoms.

At Balanced Well-Being Healthcare, we offer a multidisciplinary, integrated approach to treatment in order to restore health and internal balance. We start this by first identifying your physical, mental, environmental, and nutritional state. By incorporating goals for health maintenance, prevention we seek to treat the whole person rather than just one component of you. Our natural therapies, combined with our integrative approach to understanding the underlying causes of your depression, can help us find you the help you need.

Some possible remedies include:

How You Can Benefit From Happy Chemicals

infographics: You Have Power Over Your Brain

While you may not think twice about walking and talking at the same time or laughing at a joke while watching television, the brain is hard at work calculating every move to help regulate thoughts, feelings and emotions.

At the core of these feelings are brain chemicals that affect your happiness. As part of Mental Health Awareness month, we analyze these happy chemicals, provide you with tips on how to stimulate them and offer dietary suggestions to help maximize their production.

Read Also: What Does Fluoride Do To Your Brain

Do You Need More Happy Brain Chemicals

Do you ever wish you could just turn on the happy chemicals in your brain? Imagine how much easier it would make getting out bed each morning, getting even the most tedious parts of your job done, and finding the energy to consistently show up as your best self for the people you care about the most. But is it really possible never mind advisable to try and train our brains for more happiness?

The quest for good feelings is natures survival engine, explained Professor Loretta Breuning, founder of the Inner Mammal Institute, when I interviewed her recently. For example, animals seek food to relieve the bad feeling of hunger. They seek warmth to relieve the bad feeling of cold. And happy chemicals start flowing before a mammal even eats or warms up because the brain turns them on as soon as it sees a way to meet a need.

The same is true for humans. Happy chemicals are turned on in your brain when you see a way to meet a survival need such as food, safety, or social support, but with the added complication that your cortex the thinking part of your brain makes long chains of association based on your early experiences of life.

The feeling we call happiness comes from four special brain chemicals: dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin, explained Loretta. These happy chemicals turn on when your brain sees something good for your survival. Then they turn off, so theyre ready to activate again when something good crosses your path.

    Brain Chemicals That Make You Happy

    We spend a lot of time discussing ways to be happier – maintain close friendships, look on the bright side, drink more water. But we dont often think about how we feel happiness. Did you know that the warmth you feel from a long hug is caused by an entirely different chemical sensation than the high you feel after a long run or bike ride?

    DOSE: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins

    So then, whats the real cause of our happiness? What makes us feel sensations of happiness, closeness, and joy? Brain chemicals! There are four primary chemicals that can drive the positive emotions you feel throughout the day: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins .

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    Her Old Blog Posts Can Still Be Read At:

    You can trigger more happy chemicals naturally. Heres how.

    You can stimulate more happy chemicals with fewer side effects when you understand the job your happy chemicals evolved to do. Heres a natural way to stimulate each, and to avoid unhappy chemicals.

    #1 Dopamine

    Approaching a reward triggers dopamine. When a lion approaches a gazelle, her dopamine surges and the energy she needs for the hunt is released. Your ancestors released dopamine when they found a water hole. The good feeling surged before they actually sipped the water. Just seeing signs of a water-hole turned on the dopamine. Just smelling a gazelle turns on dopamine. The expectation of a reward triggers a good feeling in the mammal brain, and releases the energy you need to reach the reward.

    Dopamine alerts your attention to things that meet your needs. How you define your needs depends on your unique life experience. Each time dopamine flowed in your youth, it connected neurons in your brain. Now youre wired you to meet your needs in ways that felt good in your past.

    #3 Oxytocin Trust triggers oxytocin. Mammals stick with a herd because they inherited a brain that releases oxytocin when they do. Reptiles cannot stand the company of other reptiles, so its not surprising that they only release oxytocin during sex. Social bonds help mammals protect their young from predators, and natural selection built a brain that rewards us with a good feeling when we strengthen those bonds.

    Oxytocin The Warm And Fuzzy One

    Your Power to Re-wire Your Happy Brain Chemicals (#1 of 7)

    Oxytocin is known as the love hormone and it can promote trust, empathy, and bonding in relationships. Along with serotonin and dopamine, oxytocin completes the trio of feel-good chemicals. Oxytocin is used by the body in childbirth, breastfeeding and sex. Low levels of oxytocin have been linked with depression but we dont completely understand the role of oxytocin in building relationships and more research is needed. How oxytocin regulates mood is also not straightforward. Boosting oxytocin levels may help to treat social phobia, depression, and anger problems.

    Read Also: Does Fluoride Cause Brain Damage

    Oxytocin The Cuddle Hormone

    Oxytocin is a hormone that promotes bonding and trust, and it is particularly active during childbirth where it stimulates contractions. One of its lesser-known, but equally important, functions is as a neurotransmitter that helps regulate stress responses and calm the nervous system.

    Its been pinpointed in human bonding, generosity, and establishing trust, while other studies show that it might be what makes some romantic relationships work. Indeed, higher blood oxytocin levels have been linked to greater perceived love, responsiveness, and gratitude in couples.

    Oxytocin secretion happens in response to stimuli perceived by the brain, which is carefully monitoring your environment for threats using your ears, eyes, taste, touch, and smell. Its produced in response to touch and even the right kind of eye contact, but also in times of stress to counterbalance the effects of cortisol.

    In recent years, the scientific community has discovered that oxytocin plays a much wider role than initially ascribed, regulating the immune system, healing, and even pain perception. You wont be surprised then to discover that your gut bacteria have got their finger in this pie too.

    Although most of the studies have been conducted in mice, it was shown that gut microbes can stimulate oxytocin production, thus promoting wound healing and muscle health, leading some to suggest that this chemical might contribute to healthful longevity.

    Dose : The Brains Happy Chemicals Explained

    D.O.S.E. is the acronym for the major chemicals in our brains that influence our happiness. The brains happy chemicals. These chemicals are Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins. On both a biological and a mental level, the release of these chemicals makes us happy. This happiness leads us to want more happiness. These chemicals make us want more of the same chemicals.

    Recommended Reading: What Is Serotonin In The Brain

    How To Boost Your Serotonin Levels

    The following are natural ways that you can boost your serotonin levels:

    • getting more exposure to sunlight
    • doing plenty of exercise
    • counselling and meditation

    If youve been experiencing a low mood for a considerable period of time, your doctor might prescribe you an antidepressant medication known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors .

    SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressants in Australia. They work by stopping the nerve cells reabsorbing the serotonin again so quickly, so that there is more available to keep transmitting messages.

    Leveraging Endorphins And Dopamine To Win More

    How To Hack Into Our Happy Chemicals

    Sinek refers to the combination of endorphin + dopamine as the selfish chemicals because they allow us to get more done.

    By exercising regularly, we get the endorphins we need to push ourselves harder and get better. This is one of the reasons I think its a good idea to break a sweat daily.

    Dopamine drives us to accomplish more, but the challenge is avoiding all of the false dopamine hits, as I call them, because they trick us into feeling more accomplished than we actually are.

    You get false dopamine hits from constantly checking social media or playing around on your phone, checking email, or if youre a blogger, checking your analytics ever 30 minutes.

    To keep yourself focused on the right tasks and to win more often, try to limit your dopamine hits from things that arent productive and focus on getting more dopamine hits from things that are.

    This is also why I think its so helpful to keep a daily to-do list, as long as you fill your list with meaningful tasks.

    You dont want to completely avoid dopamine because that is counterintuitive. Research has shown that people with low dopamine tend to have more self-doubt, a lack of enthusiasm, and procrastinate more.

    Celebrate your accomplishments often just make sure your accomplishments are helping you make progress towards your objectives.

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    How To Rewire Your Brain

    What you say to yourself and how you create new thoughts from your prefrontal cortex is at the heart of creating new pathways and a new future.

    Understanding the chemistry behind your primitive brain will help you see WHY youre choosing the thoughts youre choosing.

    When you understand your thoughts from this perspective, it will help you be less hard on yourself, knowing this is just your animal brain and its totally fine.

    Youre born with neurons that arent really connected. Your life experiences are what will create the pathways and connect neurons wired in your brain.

    Its crazy, but your main core circuits were built by age 7!

    You still build wiring on a daily basis, but its not on such a grand scale as it was when you were born through age 7.

    In order to build new wiring, you have to prove your old pathways untrue.

    I do this on a daily basis and Im used to it being hard, but once you understand the process, you know that its possible and worth it.

    Yes, a child might be able to learn a new language a little easier than you, but as long as you are experiencing something, repeating that experience and creating the right emotions with intention, a new pathway is in your future!

    You must experience, repeat, and feel to rewire your brain. The more you do this, the stronger the wiring becomes.

    Wiring can deteriorate if you dont do this often. In other words, if you dont use it, you lose it!

    They Call It Chemistry For A Reason Here’s What Happens To Bodies During Sex

    Ever wonder why you fall dead asleep or get a rush of self-confidence right after you have an orgasm? It’s because of endorphins, oxytocin and other substances that are released into your bloodstream upon liftoff.

    There are a host of sexual chemicals that affect your mind and body during and after sex. Check ’em out.

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    Plan A Romantic Evening

    Oxytocins reputation as the love hormone is well-earned.

    Simply being attracted to someone can lead to the production of oxytocin. But physical affection, including kissing, cuddling, or having sex, also contributes to oxytocin production.

    Just spending time with someone you care about can also help boost oxytocin production. This can help increase closeness and positive relationship feelings, making you feel happy, blissful, or even euphoric.

    If you really want to feel those happy hormones, note that dancing and sex both lead to endorphin release, while orgasm triggers dopamine release.

    You can also share a glass of wine with your partner for an added endorphin boost.

    If you have a dog, giving your furry friend some affection is a great way to boost oxytocin levels for you and your dog.

    According to research from 2014 , dog owners and their dogs see an increase in oxytocin when they cuddle.

    Even if you dont own a dog, you might also experience an oxytocin boost when you see a dog you know and like. If youre a dog lover, this might happen when you get a chance to pet any dog at all.

    So, find your favorite canine and give it a good ear scratch or lap cuddle.

    Adrenaline Helping Us Stay Safe

    The Brain Chemicals that Make You Happy | Lets Meet Your Happy Chemicals

    Adrenaline, or epinephrine, is responsible for your bodys fight or flight response. It helps you react quickly in a dangerous or stressful situation. Adrenaline is the hormone released when your brain perceives excitement, danger, fear, or a potential threat. You might feel a mix of all of those emotions when doing something like skydiving for example, which is a time when your body is likely to be full of adrenaline.

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    Smiling Helps On A Day

    Studies aside, there are plenty of living, breathing, smiling humans who can testify to the fact that looking the part of happy helps them get through the day.

    Smiling absolutely changes the way I think and feel, says Jaime Pfeffer, a success coach and meditation instructor based in Florida. My husband and I purposely spend 60 seconds every morning smiling to supercharge our mood. It’s part of our morning routine. If something goes awry during the day, I usually use smiling to quickly shift my mood. It only take 10 to 15 seconds for it to make a difference for me now. It helps me to feel less stressed, transform my mood quickly and put things in a different perspective.

    Pfeffer adds that she recommends smiling to all her clients, particularly when theyre dealing with long days or tedious work. One of my clients last week told me smiling for 30 seconds at a time a few times per day helps him stay upbeat when doing sales calls. He said the task can get old after a while, but the smiling helps him stay more energized and avoid burnout.

    Does Chocolate Make You Happy

    A study in 1996 showed that chocolate caused the release of endorphins in the brains of American women, making them feel happy.

    Chocolate does contain a number of compounds associated with mood-lifting chemicals in the brain. Often mentioned is phenylethylamine, a natural antidepressant and one of the chemicals your brain produces as you fall in love. Tryptophan, an amino acid present in small quantities in chocolate, is linked to the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of happiness. A handful of other substances also add to chocolates purported effects for example theobromine can increase heart rate, and caffeine is well known as a wake-up drug.

    But most of these compounds are present only in small quantities in chocolate, and now some scientists say that they are probably almost entirely digested before they reach the brain. It may instead be the experience of eating chocolate, and satisfying a food craving, that releases endorphins and happy feelings more than the content of the chocolate itself.

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