Our bodies are naturally wired to give us the right DOSE of what we need to feel happy.
I’ve since changed my tune a bit about we either choose to be happy or we don’t…not completely, but a little.
My family’s journey these last several weeks have given me a crash course in mental health issues. Both causes and effects.
The main takeaway has been that our brains come equipped with a DOSE of chemicals that effect our happiness. When any one of these are out of balance, it can cause issues like depression, anxiety and even memory loss.
Do you know the right DOSE for you?
dopamine – Just the expectation of achievement releases the energy (dopamine) to “go after it”. This release, motivates us to continue to make and achieve goals. It’s the feeling we get when we check things off our “to do list”. Embracing a new goal and taking action toward it each day and your brain will reward you with the good feeling of dopamine!
Oxytocin – Consciously building trust stimulates oxytocin. Having that feeling that someone will protect you. When someone betrays your trust it creates an unhappy chemical and knowledge of when to withhold your trust. But you can stimulate that good ‘ol oxytocin feeling again when you consciously build the bonds with those you do trust. This requires realistic expectations from you and those you choose to trust. So boost your oxytocin by trusting and verifying that trust then repeat!
serotonin – This is the believe in yourself feeling. The feeling of being respected, confident and significant triggers serotonin. Your brain will seek to repeat behaviors that got you this feeling before. It drives you to seek the recognition of others. You know that “I want to do it for my mom, my boss, my spouse, kids…” feeling? That’s serotonin. Focusing on your wins will help increase this feeling. (and no, that’s not selfish, it’s self-care)
endorphins – This chemical diminishes our perceptions of pain. It’s a brief euphoria or emergency that masks pain. Giving birth would be my example for the brief euphoria and the pain from an injury because you were focused on getting help would be another of example. Less extreme ways to experience endorphins would be when you push past your point of comfort at the gym, or running (aka “runner’s high”), stretching and even laughing (til your sore).
Just by familiarizing yourself with these, can you think of the proper triggers for you that will ensure your proper DOSE?
Good! WRITE them down somewhere because all the natural chemicals in your brain aren’t about your happiness.
There’s another important chemical that needs mentioning…
Cortisol. This is the unhappy one.
This is the one that alerts you to pay attention that something may not be in your best interest. We are imperfect humans living in a world with other imperfect humans, bad things are going to happen and sometimes they are going to happen to you.
Cortisol alerts you when your “happy chemicals” take a dip. Some people aren’t comfortable letting their DOSE dip and instead immediately try and mask their cortisol with a DOSE you’re familiar with. Seems harmless enough short term, but long term this can actually increase cortisol because it’s job is to alert you to potential threats and harm as much as the happy chemicals point you to potential reward.
Learn to accept the cortisol and you will not be rushing to mask it for short term relief and resulting in potential harm long term. And when your not trying to squelch your cortisol, you’ll end up with more of the DOSE you want!
A good balance of these natural chemicals from your brain are going to greatly affect your happiness.
Learning my own DOSE of happy right there with ya,
Some of us can regulate this imbalance naturally and others may need professional help to get back in balance. No matter if this imbalance came from an injury, overwhelming circumstances or something else, I encourage you to seek professional help if you find yourself feeling hopeless, helpless and happiness feels like it’s just unattainable.
For those who need help with finding just what your right things to prioritize your focus on right now in order to achieve your ultimate goals – I’d love to be your go to for that! Start Here