What are “happy hormones”, why do they make us happy, and how do we get more of these into our system?
Happy hormones generally refer to endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. Technically, some of these are neurotransmitters and not hormones, but we shan’t bother ourselves with those scientific details here.
I’m leaving out adrenaline (also called epinephrine) which stimulates a fight-or-flight response. Adrenaline doesn’t make us happy per se, just highly excitable!
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday.” – Henri Nouwen
One day many years ago, I was taking a short cut through a carpark. A sudden spontaneous thought came into my mind with such force that I actually said the words out loud, to no one in particular: “I’m so ANGRY!”
Hearing those words stopped me in my tracks. I knew I’d said them, but I couldn’t figure out why. Nothing had happened that morning to make me angry, and there was no specific incident the anger was about.
In that moment I saw myself as if my mind had taken a photographic snapshot. There I was, standing in the middle of the carpark – jaws clenched, brows knit in a frown, shoulders tensed.
I knew then that anger had become my default state. My most spontaneous thought was one of anger. Until now I have no idea how I’d gotten that way, though I suppose it was the result of allowing the cares of the world to shape my subconscious.
The latest research suggests that money can buy happiness, but only if we spend it the right way.
Common sense tells us that the lack of money is certainly no happy state. Some studies suggest that a minimum income of $75,000 increases happiness. This minimum provides shelter and food, without which it is really hard to be happy.
Beyond that minimum, buying more stuff doesn’t add to our happiness. After the initial high of that new dress or gadget, we return to our happiness baseline pretty quickly. The trick then, is to use money to raise our happiness baseline.
Reader’s Contribution: These “I’ve learned…” quotes by Andy Rooney were emailed to me by a reader. Thank you dear reader!
Andy Rooney was a TV commentator who died in 2011 at age 92. He wrote 16 books on what he learned about life.
Here are the 30 quotes, with my favourites highlighted.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor E Frankl
Viktor Frankl is probably the most well-known survivor of the Holocaust. His experience in the concentration camps led to his best-selling book Man’s Search for Meaning. If Frankl could choose his response to a stimulus as cruel as torture, we can surely choose our response to milder stimuli in life.
By learning to manage our stimulus and response, we can grow as a person and be truly free. How do we do this? Continue reading