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The Quartet of Happiness: Hack your natural chemicals in order to feel good.

Happiness is not something that needs to be found, there is not going to be a day when you find it and everything suddenly changes magically. I know a lot of people who live waiting for the wonderful day when (AT LAST!) after waiting for so long they will find their happiness. Happiness is not permanent, neither it is conditional. However, we constantly tell ourselves: ‘The day I achieve X… I will be happy’ and this way, we condition our happiness and position it constantly in the future tense, until it becomes something unachievable.

I don’t believe you can be happy every day. Happiness is an emotion and like all emotions, It comes and goes, it flows. However, we all want to be happy so the more ‘happy states’ we manage to have daily the better we will feel. That is why it is important to…

Clarify and define what we really want

Often we don’t have a clear vision of what it means for us ‘to be happy’. The other day in one of the satisfaction sessions, a great woman expressed: ‘My goal is to be more content and happy’, and I asked: ‘What does it mean for you to be content? In which moments do you feel the happiest?’ Her answer was: ‘I don’t know’.

It is common to mix up punctual moments of happiness with our idea of what a ‘happy life’ looks like. A typical idea of happiness could be: ‘I will be happy when I live in a paradisiac beach, on a constant holiday’. (Or in other words, the illusion of retirement). This idea can be associated with specific moments of our lives in which we have felt happy by spending a relaxing day on the beach. However, the question is: Do you think that you would be happy forever if you were every day lying down in a hammock without doing anything else? Probably not, probably you would get bored, or you would look for something else. Why? Because growing is a basic human need and we don’t feel good when we don’t progress and grow.

That is why today rather than focusing on the possibility of a future happiness, I propose to focus on the present. What does your life need for you to tag it as a ‘happy life’ today? Change starts now. What can you do today to create happy states for yourself? Today I am going to share with you a great tool for achieving happy states!

Activate the Quartet of Happiness Every Day

There are some natural chemicals in our bodies which produce happiness, they are known as ‘The Quartet of Happiness’: Dopamine, Endorphins, Oxytocin and Serotonin. Our body releases them naturally in specific moments. These chemicals are better than any drug, they are self-produced and totally free.

A great way to make sure that every day you enjoy some happy states is to learn how these chemicals get released so you can trigger them. This way, we can stop waiting for the chemicals to be released magically and we can ask them for help when we really need them.  Today I am going to introduce to you to the whole quartet:

1. Dopamine

It is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centres. When our dopamine levels increase, we have more energy, focus and motivation. We can release dopamine naturally by…

Sleeping:

Yeah! When we sleep we recharge our dopamine levels. It is much easier to get motivated when tiredness is not on our way.

Increasing your intake of tyrosine-rich foods:

AVOCADO AND BLACK CHOCOLATE (Thank you life), nuts, bananas, eggs… Tyrosine is a key component of dopamine. Be careful with sugar consumption. When we consume sugar our dopamine levels increase but a while after, they crash, leaving you in a worse state than before you ate the sweet intake.

Creating something o completing a small task:

Dopamine gets released as a reward every time we achieve something that matters to us (Even if it is a small achievement). When we divide big goals into small actions we have more chances to release dopamine daily!

Listening to music:

Have you ever been in the situation where you were feeling bad, and as soon as a song you loved started playing, you couldn’t help but smiling and laughing? There it is, dopamine comes into place when we listen to pleasant music.

Exercising:

When we work out we release dopamine and all the other chemicals. Our brain rewards us every time we move its best companion: The body.

2. Endorphins

They are hormones which work as a natural analgesic for the body in order to ease pain and make you feel calm and happy. They are known as ‘self-produce morphine’. When we release endorphins we feel happy, euphoric and determined. There are many ways to boost them…

Having Orgasms:

Some years ago when I was suffering anxiety, my osteopath asked me to have as much a sex as possible in order to heal myself. The pleasure that we feel when we make love or have an orgasm is healing. We release endorphins and free ourselves from tension. If you don’t have a couple, you can explore with your own body. Nowadays, there are still too many prejudices regarding masturbation (Especially when it comes to women). I believe it is necessary to break that taboo and to understand that knowing yourself is the first step to be able to enjoy when getting to know others.

Eating Spicy food:

As a response to the discomfort and unpleasant sensations that we experience when we eat something really spicy, endorphins take action to calm us down and provide us with pleasure.

Laughing:

Every time we smile or laugh we release endorphins, especially when we laugh to the point of feeling tommy-ache! If you think you don’t laugh enough, why don’t you try a laugh therapy session? They are so fun!

Crying:

Tears are also healing. Crying is a body mechanism to ease pain, that is why endorphins come into place when tears are around. If we cry due to sadness, endorphins get released to calm us down. If we cry of pure joy, endorphins go to the ceiling! It is such a beautiful sensation; Crying due to happiness.

Exercising:

Again physical exercise is remarked. Years ago I went through a hard break up and every time I could tell pain was too overwhelming for me, I would run away to the gym. There, endorphins would get released and my state was automatically transformed.

3. Serotonin

It is a neurotransmitter that is released when we feel socially recognised. And when we meet basic needs such as eating. In the Spanish culture, we are good at releasing this chemical: We are constantly eating tapas surrounded by the people who love us most!  When our serotonin levels are high we feel safe and in peace, how can we increase them?

Feeling the Sunlight:

Expose yourself to the light that comes from the sun, it is pure vitamin! (Obviously taking precautions!!) when we feel the warmth and light from the sun we release serotonin and feel recharged.

Decreasing alcohol consumption:

This does not mean that we cannot drink a glass of wine or a beer, but it is good to be aware that just 3 minutes after starting consuming, our serotonin levels crash. Violent behaviour is related to alcohol. This is because the part of our brain which stops certain behaviours gets blocked when serotonin is down.

Getting Social Recognition:

Why is social media so addicted nowadays? In the ‘likes’ culture we increase our serotonin levels just by getting likes, the danger of this is that as soon as this form of external attention goes away, serotonin goes down as a consequence. Therefore, it is better to meet this need for social recognition with the people we love most. We need to make sure that we show our appreciation and love in each relationship we have and often enough. This needs to be more powerful than the virtual world if we want to keep our serotonin levels up.

Eating:

80% of serotonin exists in the gut, so our serotonin levels are completely related to our state of hunger. That is why it is common to be in a bad mood when we are hungry!

Exercising:

One more time, exercise is key. When we move our body we release serotonin, especially when we play in sports teams and we enjoy! Also benefits from exercising such as improvement of physical appearance can contribute to increasing serotonin.

4. Oxytocin

It is a neurotransmitter known as the love hormone. We are social beings and we have a need for connection. Oxytocin helps us reducing our cortisol levels (stress hormones) and to reduce anxiety. When we have a good level of oxytocin, we are more ready to deal with our environment. How do we release oxytocin?

Physical contact:

When I was in Sydney I was lucky enough to meet a Buddhist monk from Bhutan. In one of the Conscious Club events, he taught us the power of hugs, he invited us to hug someone for 3 minutes without saying anything. The sensation was incredible as our oxytocin levels went up while we hugged each other consciously. Hugs are healing. Caress, kisses and sex are too!

Words of Affirmation and love:

When we listen to a compliment from someone we value, our oxytocin goes up automatically. Look for people in your life who remind you why it is important that you are sharing life with them.

Helping others:

When we help others we release oxytocin as we connect. If you believe that your oxytocin levels are low, why don’t you surprise or give a special present to someone you love?

Venting emotions:

It is proved that suppressing emotions is not good for us, when we vent our emotions by crying we don’t only release endorphins (mentioned above) but also oxytocin.

Exercising:

Moving our body is the best we can do to release the whole quartet of happiness. When we work out we also release oxytocin.

Understanding how our body works is essential to feel good! This list of small actions to release the quartet of happiness helps me daily. Making sure that every day there is happiness in my life is made easier since I learnt about these chemicals. From all the small actions that we can undertake (there are many more than the one listed here), exercising seems to be the most powerful one! Therefore, if you are ever having a hard day, my advice is: Run, jump, move your ass, pedal as if there was no tomorrow until you feel good. Until you feel happy.

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