DR PUSHPA CHATURVEDI outlines the four essential hormones that our body manufactures to give us the right blend of happiness, stability, calmness and motivation
I often wonder why a money plant is so called – it is not as if we can grow money on this plant. But don’t be surprised if I tell you that you can grow your very own happiness tree. Each one of us is capable of creating our own happiness based on our own perception of this emotion.
The mysterious alchemy of our mind’s thoughts and behaviour can cause a surge of happiness hormones in our body gifted by the creator. Just like we need good manure to grow healthy plants, similarly to nurture our own happiness quotient, we need a manure of positive body neurochemicals — namely dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins.
And yes, we can learn to train our brain to secrete these happiness hormones. Many events can trigger these neurotransmitters, but rather than being in the passive passenger seat and waiting for these events, one must become a proactive driver to allow them to flow and surge intentionally in the right direction.
So let’s see how our feelings, thoughts and actions can help us to increase these hormones so that our happiness tree grows so tall as to touch the sky. For only when you are happy, can you make others happy.
Dopamine, the happy hormone
Dopamine is responsible for making us feel good, confident, satisfied, positive and motivated. To boost our dopamine levels, we should never procrastinate or have self-doubts. Instead, we should believe in ourselves. stay positive, indulge in positive self-talk and stay goal-oriented; we should say, ‘Yes, I can do it. Break big goals down into little pieces and achieve them, one by one. To motivate yourself further, create new goals in your mind before achieving your current one, so that you know what you will have to look forward to.
Telling yourself something is impossible creates feelings of hopelessness and inevitability. So you end up feeling angry, depressed and resigned to your fate. But telling yourself something is possible creates feelings of excitement, motivation, and possibility. So you end up feeling confident and hopeful.
When you feel good that you have achieved something, it’s because you have a surge of dopamine in your body.
Serotonin makes you stable and calm
It’s a mood regulator, and it’s often called your body’s natural “feel good” elixir. When serotonin is at normal levels, you feel more focused, emotionally stable, satisfied, optimistic, happier and calmer. Serotonin flows when you feel significant or important. Loneliness and depression appears when serotonin is low.
Maintain your normal levels of serotonin by doing regular exercise, taking long walks amidst nature, seek adequate sunlight exposure and practise gratitude.
When gratitude is expressed and received, the brain releases dopamine and serotonin, two crucial neurotransmitters which contribute to feelings of pleasure, happiness, and overall sense of well-being.
Serotonin levels should be balanced as an increase with certain types of medication can eventually cause illness which could prove fatal if not recognised and treated early.
Oxytocin, the love hormone
This is often called the ‘cuddle’ or ‘love’ hormone. A simple way to keep oxytocin flowing is to give friends and those close to you a hug. A warm handshake, or a hug reduces cardiovascular stress and improves the immune system.
Oxytocin creates intimacy, trust, and builds healthy relationships. It is essential for creating strong bonds and improved social interactions. Bonding of couples and child-parent bonding, specially baby-mother bonding is defined by oxytocin surges.
Oxytocin has a positive impact on social behaviour related to relaxation, trust and overall psychological stability. It has also been shown to decrease stress and anxiety levels.
Endorphins, your ‘feel good’ hormones
Have you witnessed a runner or a performer who becomes more vigorous and has a second high during the last phase of his or her performance? That’s the magic created by an endorphin surge.
Along with regular exercise, laughter is one of the easiest ways to induce an endorphin release. Even anticipation and expectation of laugher, e.g., attending a comedy show, increases levels of endorphins.
So please take your sense of humour to work, as to laugh during the day is a great way to keep the doctor away.
So, let’s grow our own happiness tree by cultivating a healthy, positive-minded lifestyle and driving our life ahead by creating, sustaining and using the resources already within us. Nothing is needed from outside. We have them all within our body.
All we need to do is to work on the self and become better and better versions of our own selves as time ticks by.
Happiness is, after all, home grown.
Featured and other Images by Dr Pushpa Chaturvedi
Dr Pushpa Chaturvedi, a paediatrician with over 50 years’ experience, is an educationist and researcher, with over 100 research publications, mainly on social paediatrics in renowned medical journals. Ex-Professor and Head of Department of Paediatrics, MGIMS Sevagram, Wardha, she is a thinker, writer, poet, artist and a spiritual blogger with over 500 blogs to her credit. Dr Chaturvedi is also a keen traveller, music and nature lover.