The Dark Side of Happiness

Photo by Stan B on Unsplash

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There’s a group of hormones that, when triggered, make us happy. Those chemical reactions make us feel really good.

What’s the downside?

A primer on happiness hormones

These hormones are generally considered to have a positive impact on our happiness:

Dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, phenylethylamine, oxytocin and ghrelin.

In brief:

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is responsible for a feeling of happiness. It’s spread along pathways in our brain.

You can trigger the release of dopamine by eating the right diet (rich almonds, bananas, avocados, eggs, beans, fish and chicken), exercising, meditating, getting adequate sleep and even listening to music.

Serotonin: Serotonin is found in the brain, bowels and blood platelets. There’s evidence having adequate serotonin levels is critical to maintaining mood balance.

You can boost your levels of serotonin by exercising daily, maintaining “gut health,” eating foods high in complex carbohydrates and, if needed, taking supplements.

Endorphins: Endorphins are chemicals our body produces to relieve stress and pain. They are triggered by regular exercise, helping others, yoga and meditation.

Phenylethylamine: Phenylethylamine is a chemical found in our bodies. It stimulates our bodies to produce chemicals thought to have a role in mood and attention, among other things. In clinical trials, supplementing phenylethylamine “induced rapid and sustained relief of depression.”

High-intensity aerobic exercise increases the release of phenylethylamine.

It’s also available as a supplement.