Just like the famous quote “happiness is not a destination, it’s a journey,” sometimes focusing on being happy in the moment, rather than relying on happiness to be obtained from an end-goal will keep the optimist in you alive and the smiles spreading from ear to ear.
While we all have different ideas of what will make us happy, scientifically we are all hardwired with the same ‘happiness receptors’ within our brains to promote positive feelings through neurochemicals.
There are four positive neurochemicals that put us within a positive state of mind and can impact our motivation, productivity and wellbeing. We can trigger these neurochemicals (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins) in everyday tasks and we have included five simple ways below that will have you on your happiness journey today.
5 ways to increase happiness
1. Smile, like you mean it
It might sound silly, but smiling (even if you really, really, really don’t want to) can actually increase endorphins and serotonin levels that will increase your happiness. I’m not talking about a fake grin or cheesy photo smile, it’s the ‘Duchenne smile’ that’s most effective. What’s that? Scientists have said it involves using facial muscles to raise the corners of the mouth, while raising the cheeks and producing crow’s feet around the eyes – You can generally tell if someone has a ‘real smile’ if they are smiling with their eyes.
2. Pet your cat or dog
We love our pets and they love us, so it’s no surprise giving our furry companions a quick pat can boost our moods. Petting your pet can help raise oxytocin levels, which can lower your heart rate and induce a calming effect, leading to a more upbeat mood! Thanks Christie for regularly bringing this bundle of joy into the office!
3. Eat some chocolate
We all know chocolate can alter our moods. Just think, have you craved it when you were stressed or wanted it when you were sad? Well the reason we do is because it releases endorphins, which we associate with a happy mood or feeling. Other than that though, if you’re a sweet tooth like me you’ll find any reason to indulge in a bar (or block).
4. Engage in an intimate act
Similar to patting your canine, a hug or a kiss from a loved one can also increase oxytocin levels. A simple 10-second hug is enough to release the neurochemical, with scientists recommending eight hugs a day as the ideal number. Oh and of course, I can’t fail to mention the obvious; sex… where men and women release high levels of oxytocin during the ‘big o’.
5. Listen to your favourite tunes
In your commute, turn the music up and sing-a-long (I know I do!), plug the headphones in while studying or add some music while doing boring tasks (i.e. housework), as this can help increase dopamine levels which motivates us towards reaching our goals and releases positive feelings as a reward for completing them.
Happiness can be found in the simpler things in life and comes from within. For this reason, you are in control of your own happiness and these are just some helpful tips to keep you on that continual journey!