There's more to the chemistry of happiness than you think

We all know that serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin are the chemicals we need to produce in order to be happy. But how exactly do we maximise our happiness production?

Alexantra Theodosiou
14th March 2022
The chemical symbol of Dopamine. Image credit: @geralt, Pixabay
As International Happiness Day is approaching on the 20th of March, let’s look a little at the things that make us happy. First, however, we need to clarify what 'happy’ is.

Science would tell you there’s four aspects to it: the ‘happiness chemicals' serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. These chemicals regulate our emotions though influencing different processes in our body. For instance, serotonin may affect our sleep cycles or immune system efficacy and endorphins can act as a natural pain reliever. Our everyday activities affect the release of these chemicals in our body, which is why it’s important to include ones that make us happy. However, they may not be what you had in mind. Dr Michela Sorensen tells us 

“We often think positive events will make us happy…but the happiness effect doesn’t last. Instead, science shows it’s the little things we do every day that build happiness over time.”

Happiness won’t come from one big occasion once IN a blue moon or deciding to only ‘treat yourself’ after constant, tiring work. To keep both our body and mind healthy, we have to find happiness in the regular, seemingly insignificant activities that we do, the moments we dread, the awkward silence. Understandably, that can be hard for many who have fallen into the pattern of never doing it, though little by little, once you try and your perspective shifts, you can find happiness in the most unexpected places!

Getting to a crossing right when the light turns green, turning towards your friend in a crowded room in a form of silent communication, noticing a little flower growing through the cracks in concrete pavements, holding the hand of the one you love in a dark room, taking a sip of your drink when it’s at just the right temperature, gazing out the window on a sunny day, or catching rain droplets on a gloomy one, the first bite of food when you’re ravenous, playing your favourite song right when you wake up, the last tear rolling down your cheek and knowing you’re done being sad for now. Those are moments in which I can confidently say I may have experienced all the happiness in the world once I finally realised how precious they are to me, though in the past I might have taken them for granted. At the end of the day, every moment is a big moment, you don’t need to exhaust yourself for happiness.

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