What makes us happy?

By: Rishika

For some it’s food, for others its exercise or a good book! Yes, we are talking about what makes us happy. Ever wondered what exactly happens inside our body when we feel good or happy? In this edition of Science Lab, we talk about the hormones that help make us feel good, as well as other things you can do to feel happy!

What makes us happy?

Four friends 

Everyone loves to be happy! It is the greatest feeling in the world and although sometimes the feeling is hard to come by, you can do a few things that can help you feel better.

There are four hormones, let’s call them chaar yaar (or four friends) who live inside our body and help us feel good or happy! They are dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins. Really fancy names right? Well, let us introduce you to each one of them now

First come dopamine. It is the ‘feel-good’ hormone. It is released when we feel pleasure like winning that Call of Duty match or when we eat our favourite foods! It is also associated with learning, memory and our motor function system among others.

Next comes, serotonin, which helps regulate our mood and also plays an important role in our sleep, appetite, digestion, memory and learning abilities. Next time you feel moody, you know whom to blame! 

Now that you know about the two friends, let’s talk about the other two! We bet you're going to love them too! 

Love and pain! 

So next comes oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’ that helps promote trust, empathy and bonding in relationships. You can’t stop crushing about Ranveer Singh or BTS because of oxytocin! This hormone is also responsible for making you and your best friend - so madly in love with each other. 

Last comes the endorphins that are the body’s natural pain relievers! Yes, you heard it right. They are produced when the body experiences pain or discomfort. They also increase when you engage in reward-producing activities such as eating or working out! 

Next time you are feeling dull, lazy or depressed - go out for a long walk or indulge in cycling! Your endorphins will surely make you happy! 

Now that you know why and how you feel happy, let us tell you about various activities that you can partake in to feel happy! 

  1. Spending time in nature is a great way to boost happiness. Exposure to sunlight can increase the production of serotonin and endorphins (don’t forget your sunscreen)!
  2. Exercising is also a great way to feel positive! It increases one’s dopamine and serotonin levels. Doing it with friends is an added plus!
  3. Laughter is the best medicine and, in this case, laughing with a friend can reduce feelings of anxiety and stress, increasing your dopamine and endorphins levels! Bonding with someone while laughing also releases oxytocin, helping you feel extra happy!
  4. Cooking or eating your favourite meal helps boost all the four happy hormones! While doing so, your dopamine and serotonin levels increase and while cooking with someone, oxytocin increases. Certain foods also release certain hormones. Spicy foods trigger endorphins to release while yogurt, beans, eggs along with low-fat meats and almonds help in dopamine release. Foods rich in tryptophan (an amino acid) such as eggs, cheese, fish, peanuts and milk help in the release of serotonin. 
  5. Listening to music helps increase serotonin production! So, put on your favourite playlist and just vibe. Dancing also helps release oxytocin, so now you have an excuse to dance whenever!
  6. Meditation also helps one to improve their sleep and reduce stress. This increases the release of dopamine and can also provide a nice dose of endorphins!
  7. Spending time with your loved ones can also boost oxytocin, making you feel relaxed and positive. 
  8. Being surrounded by animals also helps in the release of oxytocin. So pet the dog you see and cuddle with cats, it’s worth it!
  9. Getting a good night’s sleep also increases dopamine, making you feel refreshed and energetic!
  10.  Massages help one release stress and boost all the four happy hormones! 
  11.  Practising gratitude helps one realise all the things they should be happy for, focusing on the positive rather than the negative, boosting dopamine.
  12.  Being kind to others and helping other people have also proven to be activities that help boost our happy hormones!

 Fun facts on happiness! 

  1. Happiness is contagious! 
  2. Spending time with happy people can make you happy too. 
  3. Floral scents (especially roses) can make you happier. 
  4. Happiness helps build a stronger immune system. Less cold and flu! 
  5. Happy people live longer.
  6. Happy people experience less stress. 
  7. Happiness has its own day! 20 March is World Happiness Day!

So remember, the next time you are feeling down or a little sad, try doing a few of these activities or just eating your favourite foods! 

Fun facts on happiness!

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