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Tips to Live By

Brain Chemistry & Your Mood: 4 Hormones That Promote Happiness

Sep. 13, 2021 - Katie McCallum

Your mood is influenced by many things — the good, as well as the bad.

Spending time with a loved one or friend can improve it. Sitting in an hour of unexpected traffic can ruin it.

But your mood is more complicated than the situations and environments you encounter. There's brain chemistry to consider, too.

In between sensing a situation and responding to it, chemicals called neurotransmitters and hormones help your brain understand, evaluate and communicate what you're experiencing. These various neurotransmitters and hormones have specific jobs — each being activated in a certain way, signaling certain emotions and stimulating certain areas of your brain.

When it comes to happiness, in particular, the primary signaling chemicals include:

  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine
  • Endorphins
  • Oxytocin

How to harness happy hormones

Here's what you need to know about happy hormones, including tips for activating the feel-good brain chemistry they provide to help improve your mood:

Serotonin

Helps balance mood and promote feelings of well-being and reward.

How to harness serotonin:

  • Being kind to others and yourself
  • Spending time outdoors
  • Exercising
  • Eating a well-balanced diet

Endorphins

Your body's natural pain killers, they help you overcome stress or discomfort

How to harness endorphins:

  • Spending time outdoors
  • Exercising (ever heard of "runner's high?")
  • Meditating
  • Laughing

Dopamine

Also called the "feel good" hormone, it plays a role in feeling happiness, pleasure and reward.

How to harness dopamine:

  • Being kind to yourself and others
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Exercising
  • Listening to music

Oxytocin

Not technically a happy hormone, its role in promoting social interaction may help you feel positive emotion.

How to harness oxytocin:

  • Showing love and affection
  • Spending time with loved ones and friends
  • Sharing a laugh
  • Listening to music
Categories: Tips to Live By