The brain has many self-produced neurochemicals which make people feel happiness and joy when an experience occurs. Seven brain molecules are linked to happiness. Here are some keys to unlocking this potential in the brain and in people’s lives.
Daily activities and lifestyle choices have the power to affect overall happiness. One negative side-effect of living in the digital age is the decrease in physical proximity to one another. As depression and anxiety increase, learning about the brain’s chemistry can help drive behavior which results in more joy and happiness over time.
Neurochemicals at Work
The body produces more neurochemicals than have been identified by scientists. Seven have been linked to feelings of overall happiness and a sense of well-being.
Endocannabinoids: also known as the ‘bliss molecule,’ it is believed endocannabinoids are, most likely, the cause for runner’s high or the feeling of euphoria achieved from running. The chemicals released are essentially self-produced cannabis.
Dopamine: responsible for pleasure seeking and reward-driven behavior. When an award is achieved for a certain behavior, dopamine levels increase in the brain. Addictive drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine act directly on the dopamine system. Individuals with extroverted or uninhibited personalities may also have higher levels of dopamine in the system.
Oxytocin: also known as the ‘bonding molecule’ which is linked to human bonding and increased levels of trust and loyalty. Face-to-face human bonds and connections within the community are important for maintaining increased levels of oxytocin.
Endorphin: known as ‘self produced morphine,’ Endorphins resemble opiates in chemical structure with analgesic properties. Produced by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus during strenuous physical exertion, exercise can bring high levels of feel good endorphins in a positive way.
GABA: an inhibitory molecule, a sense of calmness is created by release of GABA. Yoga and meditation help produce GABA which make them great activities to pursue for a natural release.
Serotonin: some of the ways to increase Serotonin are to challenge oneself regularly by pursuing things which reinforce a sense of purpose, meaning and accomplishment. The positive response can build self esteem, decrease insecurities and support positive mental health.
Adrenaline: also known as epinephrine, this molecule plays a large role in the fight or flight response. A surge of energy is released which creates increased heart rate, blood pressure and can create an ‘adrenaline rush’ in times of distress or fear. Taking healthy, calculated risks and getting out of one’s own comfort zones are ways to increase adrenaline production.
Try and See
Utilizing the above information, a healthy approach is the key to finding more happiness in one’s life. Take inventory of habits which are unhealthy and substitute some of the above recommendations such as yoga, meditation, exercise and practicing gratitude which might just bring a more balanced perspective in understanding the brain-body connection and bring peace and joy in the process.
Last Resort offers a 12-step recovery model to help clients struggling with addiction. Contact us today for more information on how we can help. Call today at 512.750.6750.