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 ([email protected] ), 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.