Updated: Feb 10
"The Art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things."
We all experience mood swings, where our state oscillates from absolute euphoria to abysmally dud. It's common to accuse external factors and events for this variation. Even I don't question the circumstances and situations, but a logical question arises: Why and how does it happen? What is the interconnect between external events and internal stage changes?
Well, blame it on our hormones. Yes, you read it right-hormones regulate our mood.
Let's delve a little deeper.
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Hormones are essentially the chemicals secreted by various glands of our body. These are the messengers, which travel across the bloodstream and play a vital role in crucial bodily functions- from sleep to metabolism. Mood regulation is one of the primary function for which hormones are responsible.
Since we are pleasure-seeking beings, let's focus on the hormones, responsible for inducing happiness and ways to hack them.
1.Dopamine – Made infamous since the advent of social media, it is also known as "Feel-Good" Hormone. It's primarily responsible for the brain's motivation & reward system. Functions like learning, memory & pleasure sensations are also associated with it.
2.Serotonin-Functions like sleep, digestion, learning, memory are regulated by this hormone.
3.Oxytocin- Commonly known as the love hormone, regulates the reproduction process of our body. It also promotes trust, empathy and relationship bonding. Oxytocin levels usually surge during physically intimate moments between partners.
4.Endorphins –These are the natural pain relievers produced by the body as a response to stressful and physically demanding activities that create discomfort. The hormone helps in reducing pain and enhancing pleasure. Reward generating tasks like eating, working out, and sex are responsible for the rise of this hormone.
Owing to the functions performed, the hormones above are collectively referred to as the Happy Hormones. Having understood the cause and effect relationship between the hormones and our state of being, let's look at some of the effective ways by which we can increase the level of these hormones in our body and thereby the Happiness Quotient.
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9 Happiness Hacks for a Happier You.
1.Unlock yourself to unlock happiness: Until recent past, when the COVID-19 pushed us indoors, the common wisdom was to spend some time outdoors. It's not without any reason. The exposure to sunlight raises the levels of endorphins and serotonin. A minimum 15-20 minutes exposure to sun & sand can do the trick. You can always take it forward from there.
2.Workout to work less: The physical health benefits of exercising regularly are common knowledge. The positive impact on emotional well-being can be endorsed by who practise it. From personal experience, I can vouch for the medicinal effects of working out on emotional well being. Like everyone, I started working out to be physically fit, but the de-stressing benefit was undoubtedly an added advantage & a welcome one. It is one reason why I have stuck to the routine for more 15 years now. In fact, I am at my creative best during my workout sessions where bright ideas, just pop-out of thin air. This write-up and the outlining of my book was also conceptualized during one such session. Along with endorphins, regular physical activity also boosts the dopamine and serotonin levels. Together, 'Trinity' increases happiness quotient.
3.Join a laughtermind: Before you start thinking laughtermind is a typo, let me assure you, it's not. Its a combination of 2 words, laughter+mastermind=laughtermind. Laughtermind is a group of like-minded people who laugh together to be happy. When you laugh alone, you are considered mad or stupid, but you don't feel awkward when you do it in a mastermind. The rush of dopamine and endorphin levels gives you happiness high, letting you release anxiety and helping de-stress. Old adage," Laughter is the best medicine" still holds.
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4.Have a Happy meal: I can relate to this, and I am sure so does anyone who likes cooking. Whenever I cook, I get disconnected from other activities and feel good. This is one activity which can boost all the four pleasure-inducing hormones—eating what you relish triggers the release of dopamine along with endorphins. Sharing of meal and bonding over food increases oxytocin levels. Certain food items also impact the hormone levels, so a happy meal must include the right kind of foodstuff.
Yoghurt, beans, eggs, almonds, low-fat meat etc. are responsible for dopamine release. Traditional Indian cuisine of spicy food triggers endorphin release. Eggs, cheese, pineapple, tofu, salmon, nuts and seeds raise the levels of serotonin. Pro-biotics like Yoghurt produces dopamine and serotonin. Cooking and sharing a balanced meal is nutritious as much for the body, as it is mind.
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5.Make Music or must Listen: Making music releases endorphin and listening to it raises dopamine. The positive change in mood increases serotonin production. No wonder majority of us love listening to music and have it either as a hobby or passion.
6.M for Meditation: Amid the plethora of benefits offered by meditation ranging from de-stressing to curing insomnia, the neurotransmitters dopamine and endorphin play a pivotal role. I have not started with meditation yet, but a couple of my friends practice it and can't stop talking about meditation effectiveness. It's recommended to start with small durations of 5-10 minutes and then increase the time logs as you grow along.
7.Dare to Date: A romantic evening with your partner is not only a quality time but also a sure-shot way of boosting the love hormone-oxytocin. Just spending time with someone you care for releases oxytocin. Positive relationship feelings make you feel happy and euphoric. Engaging in physically intimate activities raises the levels of endorphin and dopamine in the bloodstream along with oxytocin. The intensity of your activity decides your hormone mix, and it's level. How happy you want to be is totally on your discretion. Keep raising the bar.
8.Pat your Pet: All the pet lovers will vouch for it. Showering your furry friend with affection works equally for both the friends by boosting oxytocin levels. This should also satisfy your curiosity regarding the dog lovers and their mutual love.
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9.Sound sleep: Lack of sleep creates an imbalance of hormones. It reduces dopamine levels, which makes you irritable—consequently, physical and mental well being both take a hit. Generally, 7-9 hours sleep is recommended, but again it varies. Some great people like our honourable Prime minister can recharge themselves with 3-4 hours of sleep. The key is to understand your need and provide adequate rest to your body.
Trust, you would have gained some new insights by spending your time in reading this article. The proof of the pudding is in eating and if the happiness hacks shared above appeal to your sane self at some level, why not try them? I would be curious to know your experience. In case you are already practising some of these activities, you can share your views in the comments section. Your feedback and comments certainly help in Managing My Mood.
PS: If you liked the write-up and would like to discover more of such unique techniques to elevate your productivity, you may want to check out my Amazon #1 Best Seller book on productivity-Hacking The Productivity