People who are happy dont have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything. Rightly said, it is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that ensures happiness.
Its always debated whether we can control our happiness, or not. There is a body of literature which states that we cannot create happiness. We can create small pieces of happiness but when it comes for long durations, it is illusive. Despite this philosophy, everybody in the world is searching for long-term happiness. Whatever our acts or objectives are, in the end, all we want happiness from them. A person will be foolish to aspire for a goal or destination which does not generate happiness in the end. A bigger question rises that do we have to search for happiness outside or we can create it from our actions? A recent study neuroscience has come up with theories which clearly reveal that our happiness is in our acts. Its our habits and acts which can generate both long-term and short-term happiness in us. Its not only temporary rush of adrenaline which we generate during parties or thrill adventures but its long term happiness which we can generate in ourselves for a long time.
Contrary to current popular fad that happiness comes from thinking positive, neuroscience takes a different view on happiness. Our habits dictate our happiness and wellbeing. Happiness is not just about our perception but our acts.
Neuroscience has identified four hormones as happy hormones. These happy hormones generate positive emotions in us. They are dopamine (the reward hormone), endorphin (the calm hormone), oxytocin (the love hormone) and serotonin (the sharing hormone). All these four hormones bring different types of positivity in us. Together, combined they give us greater sense of happiness and satisfaction.
Dopamine comes with achievement. It is secreted when we achieve our goals. The quantum of the goal is not very important. What is important is that we complete our goals. Even if we set a very small target of brushing teeth before bed daily or finish reading a book, we release dopamine. It boosts our happiness levels. This gives us a sense of satisfaction and confidence.
Endorphins are pain killers. They are secreted in our body when we exert ourselves physically. These hormones don’t give us happiness directly but they act as pain suppressors. Exercise gives us endorphins which in turn act as a natural pain killer for us. Again the quantum of the exercise is not that important, the frequency is. Ten minutes of exercise on a consistent basis can give us enough of endorphins to tackle pain. An exercise or physical activity where sweat is generated releases best quanlity of endorphins.
Oxytocin is known as love hormone. Whenever we feel love, this hormone is secreted. It gives us a feeling of pleasure. Relationships like family, friends or romantic relationships give us oxytocin. This hormone is very powerful and biggest users of it are youngsters. People who have been through the spell of oxytocin never want to get out of it. This is why love is regarded is the most powerful drug. People fall in love, break their hearts, fall in love again and keep doing it till eternity. Basically it is oxytocin, that they get high on. Acts of love, creating good relationships, hugging friends, touching loved ones keeps our oxytocin level normal and regular. This is the reason that extroverts are happier when compared to introverts. They are involved in more relationships hence have more instances of involvement in bonding and being loved.
Serotonin, the share hormone, is released when we do things for others. It is the feeling of gratitude. When we engage ourselves in acts of giving and sharing, serotonin is released. It is released when we thank others or thank the Almighty. Serotonin is found to have most long-lasting impact among all the four hormones. Serotonin is released in large amounts during pregnancy. In fact, successful childbirth releases all four hormones of dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin in large levels. A woman feels a sense of achievement, love, and gratitude, all at the same time. Hence child birth is the happiest moment in a womans life despite all the hardships she had to face.
There is no rocket science involved, rather if one wishes to be happy in life, they need to develop habits to maintain the hormones level. We should enrich our life with activities which can release these four happy hormones on continuous level.
We should set some small tasks which gives us a sense of achievement. Daily achievement like diary-writing, reaching office at time, can give us our daily dose of dopamine. For endorphins we should exercise daily. Ten minutes is enough to keep it up with endorphins. For oxytocin we should spend time with friends and family. Hug and cuddle our loved ones, spending time with pets also releases oxytocin. And lastly, we should engage in acts of giving. Self-less service is the best way to release serotonin. Engaging in charity is one of the easiest ways for the release of serotonin. Happiness requires happy hormones and these hormones require activation. If we keep these four hormones in check they will keep our happiness in check.