Posts for tag: Neuroscience
For those of you who are just tuning in now, Parker Wellness is focusing on what Hana Matt, therapist and world religion teacher at Berkeley, has outlined as the 20 proven ways to joy. We will be breaking down these 20 ways over the course of the next two or three months. The goal is to learn the simple ways in which you can bring consistent joy into your life. You might be surprised to learn that there is actually a neuroscience and a wealth of scientific research dedicated to the broad emotion of happiness.
Way #1: Start moving!
According to Hana Matt’s introduction, “dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, enkephelines, endo-cannabinoids, and norepinephrine, are called the body’s own “joy chemicals,” and they are greatly elevated and released after exercise. A 90-minute walk raises serotonin levels by 100%.”
There are all sorts of different numbers out there that suggest the recommended amount of exercise one needs to do every week in order to be considered healthy. However, there are a lot of factors that go into what that real number should be for an individual. Remember everyone is different. To make it easy though and just to have a basic base, you should aim for around 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. You can of course do any numerical combination of the amount of moderate and vigorous exercise. It is important to abide by and make adjustments for your body’s own limitations and special needs.
Some examples of moderate exercise would be brisk walking, light bicycling, doubles tennis, yoga, and paddle boarding. Vigorous exercise would include activities like hiking, jogging, singles tennis, and circuit weight training. When deciding what you want to do for exercise, you can be as creative or conventional as you would like. Don’t forget that common household activities like mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, and gardening are also forms of physical activity.
While exercise is good for your physical health, it is also a vital component in your emotional and mental health, as well. If you are not an active person, you may have not yet felt the euphoria that often comes from a good sweat, a competitive game, an adrenaline pumping activity, or a mindful yoga type flow. There is no time like the present! Doing daily activities that release those “joy chemicals” in our brains inevitably are necessary for improving and helping to obtain consistent daily happiness.
The first step is finding an activity or activities that you actually enjoy doing. If you are not someone who likes to go to the gym, don’t choose a form of exercise that requires your presence there. If you love the ocean, then try out the many amazing ocean related activities, such as swimming, paddle boarding, surfing, or kayaking. If you find peace in a forest, then take up hiking, rock climbing, or mountain biking. If you are looking to quiet your mind, then try a yoga class. And don’t forget to mix it up and keep it interesting. You are more likely to stick to an exercise plan if you actually enjoy the plan. There is no right or wrong. This is a personal decision to get moving in whatever way suites you best. All movement is good movement!
Below is also a little reminder of some of the other amazing benefits of exercise.
Thanks for sharing a smile with us! Stay tuned for more on Friday.
What is happiness? It is merely an inward emotion or an outward expression of our internal feelings? Is it something we are born with or that we must actively seek out? Does everyone have the potential to feel happiness or are some of us innately incapable? It happiness tangible? Can happiness be made tangible? Is happiness more closely related to spirituality or science, or both?
Happiness is a broad term emotion that is felt and experienced differently by every individual. Happiness might be caused by simple pleasures like feeling the ocean on your skin or breathing in the intoxicating fragrance of a pine forest. Happiness might also come from participating in an activity that you enjoy or surrounding yourself with people that you love. Happiness might be long lasting or felt in short lived spurts. It is a feeling that can be felt as a consequence of an infinite amount of causes.
Did you know though, that there is actually a complex science behind why we experience happiness, and that you can actually cultivate consistent happiness by understanding how is it produced chemically within our bodies? If asked the question, “what makes you happy,” most of us would be able to state at least one thing that causes us to feel happy. In the absence of that thing or those things, how do you feel overall? Are you existing in a state of mundane contentment? Are you living out your days feeling mediocre or without a noticeable emotion? Are you waiting for the next time you have the time to do what brings you joy?
Hana Matt (firstname.lastname@example.org ), a therapist and teacher of world religions, compiled a list of 20 proven ways to find joy based on modern neuroscience and recent scientific research. This is your path to daily happiness. Over the next few months, join Parker Wellness as we examine these 20 ways and the scientific research that proves the legitimacy of these methods. Before we begin this happy journey, it is important to get a little of the science out of the way. Let’s take a look at some of the biochemicals that our bodies naturally produce and that are responsible in different ways for our various feelings of and reactions to happiness.
- Dopamine is considered the reward molecule and is responsible for reward-driven and pleasure seeking behavior.
- Oxytocin is considered the bonding molecule and is linked to human bonding and feelings of trust, loyalty, connection, and love.
- Norepinephrine is the chemical linked to the body’s natural fight or flight response.
- Serotonin is considered the confidence building molecule. Higher levels are linked to feelings of self-worth, purpose, and a sense of accomplishment.
- Endorphins are considered the pain killing molecule and are essentially our brain’s version of opium.
- Enkephelins are linked to mood, perception, behavior, and pain.
- Endo-cannabinoids is considered the bliss molecule.
*# 1, 2, 4, and 5 sourced from www.psychologytoday.com
These seven biochemicals all play crucial roles as neurotransmitters. We will examine the different ways to naturally activate and release these biochemicals, in order to increase our levels of happiness on a daily basis. You will be surprised how easy it is to increase your level of happiness! To answer some of the above questions now: everyone is capable of experiencing happiness; happiness is both tangible and intangible; happiness is equally spiritual as it is scientific; happiness is innately in us, but also can be sought out through simple practices; and happiness is both an inward feeling and outward expression. Every single living creature on this earth deserves to be happy. As easy as it might sound, sometimes it feels almost impossible with everything that we have to deal with in our lives each day. Sometimes it’s not that we are unhappy, but rather that everything else seems to take precedence. In the same way that we must take care of our physical bodies, we must learn to take care of our emotional bodies. Join us on this happy journey to find and maintain happiness from within.
“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” Henry David Thoreau
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” Henry David Thoreau
Thank you for sharing a smile with us this week.