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THE 7 NEUROCHEMICALS OF HAPPINESS

1. Endocannabinoids: “The Bliss Molecule”
Endocannabinoids are self-produced cannabis that work on the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors of the cannabinoid system. Anandamide (from the Sanskrit “Ananda” meaning Bliss) is the most well known endocannabinoid.

2. Dopamine: “The Reward Molecule”
Dopamine is responsible for reward-driven behavior and pleasure seeking. Every type of reward seeking behavior that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain. If you want to get a hit of dopamine, set a goal and achieve it.

3. Oxytocin: “The Bonding Molecule”
Oxytocin is a hormone directly linked to human bonding and increasing trust and loyalty. In some studies, high levels of oxytocin have been correlated with romantic attachment.

4. Endorphin: “The Pain-Killing Molecule”
The name Endorphin translates into “self-produced morphine.” Endorphins resemble opiates in their chemical structure and have analgesic properties. Endorphins are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus during strenuous physical exertion, sexual intercourse and orgasm. Make these pursuits a part of your regular life to keep the endorphins pumping.

5. GABA: “The Anti-Anxiety Molecule”
GABA is an inhibitory molecule that slows down the firing of neurons and creates a sense of calmness. You can increase GABA naturally by practicing yoga, meditation or “The Relaxation Response.” Benzodiazepines (Such as Valium and Xanax) are sedatives that work as anti-anxiety medication by increasing GABA. These drugs have many side effects and risks of dependency but are still widely prescribed.

6. Serotonin: “The Confidence Molecule”
Serotonin plays so many different roles in our bodies that it is really tough to tag it. For the sake of practical application I call it “The Confidence Molecule.” Ultimately the link between higher serotonin and a lack of rejection sensitivity allows people to put themselves in situations that will bolster self-esteem, increase feelings of worthiness and create a sense of belonging. To increase serotonin, challenge yourself regularly and pursue things that reinforce a sense of purpose, meaning and accomplishment.

7. Adrenaline: “The Energy Molecule”
A surge of adrenaline makes you feel very alive. It can be an antidote for boredom, malaise and stagnation. Taking risks, and doing scary things that force you out of your comfort zone is key to maximimzing your human potential.

Source: Christopher Bergland, The Athlete’s Way The Neurochemicals of Happiness, 7 brain molecules that make you feel great. Nov 29, 2012, Psychology Today

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