We all want to be happy, but sometimes it’s hard to get there. It can feel like you’re chasing a moving target, and every time you think you’ve reached it, it’s already moved on. Well, I’m here with some good news: You don’t need to chase after happiness at all! All you need are these four simple hacks for boosting your happiness levels and keeping them high—forever. And just so we’re clear: There won’t be any miracle cures or ground-breaking new discoveries here (though those make me happy too). Instead, I’ll focus on the tried-and-true methods that have been proven effective time and again by scientists across disciplines (including my own research). Let’s get started!
Oxytocin is the hormone that makes you feel good about your friends and family. It’s released when you hug someone you love, or when you pet a dog (and yes, this also applies to cats). Oxytocin makes us feel more connected to other people, even if it’s just a dog or cat. Research has shown that this hormone increases with meditation, so go ahead and give it a try!
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. It plays a big role in our motivation, attention and learning — all of which are key to achieving happiness. In one study, researchers found that higher levels of dopamine were linked to greater happiness in people who exercised regularly than those who didn’t exercise at all. When you experience something pleasurable or rewarding (like eating chocolate), dopamine is released into your bloodstream by neurons in your brain called dopaminergic neurons. This means that when you eat your favorite food — whether it’s a sugary dessert or a piece of pizza — it will make YOU happy!
Serotonin is a chemical that plays a key role in mood. It’s one of the chemicals released when you eat chocolate, exercise, take a warm bath or hug someone. When your serotonin levels are low, you may feel tired and depressed. But when they’re high (which they will be after some of these hacks), you’ll feel happy and relaxed.
GABA is an amino acid that helps you feel relaxed and calm. It’s also known as gamma aminobutyric acid, and it’s found in the brain, muscles and other organs. GABA is a neurotransmitter — this means that it helps messages travel between your brain cells. The main role of GABA is to reduce the amount of electrical activity in your nerve cells. This then slows down signals being sent from one nerve cell to another, which makes you feel more relaxed or less stressed out.
These chemicals can make you feel happy, so use them! You’ve probably heard the expression “the brain is a muscle,” but it’s true! Your brain is always growing and changing, just like any other part of you. This means that if you want to be happy, you need to put in some effort into keeping your mind healthy. To help people better understand how the brain works, I’ve written this book. It’s full of useful advice that will make anyone happier by using their brains more effectively. These are just a few of the happiness hacks that you can use to make yourself feel happier. There are plenty more out there, and we’ve barely touched upon them in this article. If you want to learn more about how these chemicals work, then I recommend taking a course in neuroscience!