How to increase your happiness
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. As it comes out of this WHO’s definition, mental well-being is strongly connected to general health and to a longer life.
Several studies found an association between measures related to serotonin and the feeling of well-being. Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter, derived from tryptophan. It is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract, platelets, and in the central nervous system of animals including humans. It was observed that raising the brain serotonin may improve mood and social functioning of healthy people. Higher levels of serotonin equate with the feeling of happiness.
How can you increase your levels of happiness?
It was clinically proven that self-induced changes in mood can influence serotonin synthesis. From this point of view, psychotherapy, meditation and positive visualization can increase the levels of serotonin. Meditate to happiness and you’ll be happier!
Enjoy bright light!
And if you will do your meditation exercises outside, in bright sun, your serotonin levels will get even higher. The therapy with bright light is already a treatment for seasonal depression. An interesting experiment showed up that in human postmortem brain, serotonin levels are higher in those who died in summer than in those who died in winter. It was proven that these measures are not necessarily connected to the season condition, but to the hours of day light specific for each season. Our ancestors were happier and lived longer because they worked mostly outside, in agriculture. Nowadays, most of us are working indoors, so we have to make sure that we are exposing ourselves to an optimal level of light. Choose bright light working places instead of the darker ones!
A third strategy that may raise your brain serotonin is exercise. Exercise improves mood. Recent studies have shown that exercise increases extracellular serotonin in various brain areas, including the hippocampus and cortex. Physical activity increases the firing rates of serotonin neurons, and this leads to increased release and synthesis of serotonin, that willpersists after exercise, too.
Boost your levels of happiness through diet!
“People should be focusing on brain foods and mood-promoting fats to best nurture happiness, says Drew Ramsey, MD, coauthor (with Tyler Graham) of The Happiness Diet: A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood, and Lean, Energized Body. According to him, the foods you are choosing to eat each day can make a real difference in improving mental and emotional well-being, stabilizing your moods, and improving your focus. It begins with avoiding the processed and fried foods and stocking up on foods rich in omega 3s fatty acids, magnesium, and other vitamins and nutrients. On his list of “happy” foods mussels, Dr. Drew Ramsey included Swiss chard, blue potatoes, grass-fed lamb, dark chocolate, Greek yogurt, asparagus, honey, cherry tomatoes, and pastured eggs. Try to have them as much as possible on your plate each day!
Avoid alcohol, nicotine, stress and drugs!
All these noxious substances cause unstable levels of serotonin, creating wide mood swings.
Commit acts of kindness!
Performing acts of kindness helps you to feel happier. And they don’t have to be big things; small kindnesses go a long way in increasing your happiness. “Stealth kindness” is a way to do something kind for others while having fun yourself. The idea behind this is to do something nice for someone without them seeing you do it.