As a mental health professional i see people day in and day out with mental health issues.A very common presentation to us Psychiatrists is Depression.A huge chunk of the population suffers from it be it youngsters,the elderly to even children.
Common symptoms of depression are inadequate sleep,lack of concentration,attention,inability to enjoy,feelings of sadness etc. A lot of individuals on the face of it seem to have all in life,a good family,great job,a dream house a posh car.You name it and they have it.But still they are unhappy,unsatisfied,bored of life.Why is it so that someone who has it all is unhappy and another one who has almost nothing to show is happy.Thats for someother day.Today i would like to talk about Happiness and the science and art behind it.
Have taken the title from one of my favourite movies,the Will Smith Starrer “The Persuit of Happyness” in which the protagonist looses it all but hope and struggles and ultimately finds happiness.So lets start with the science behind happiness.
Modern neuroscience tells us that there are essentially 4 neurochemicals behind the state of human happiness.
So it is essential that we have a look at each as they all are required for one to feel happy.Let’s look at the first group of neurochemicals the Endorphins.These are neurochemicals secreted in our brains naturally which are similar to a group of chemicals called opiods eg Morphine.As they are naturally produced in the brain they are called endorphins and one of them is called “Anandamide”…the name says it all.When we exercise, the body releases Endorphins. These neurochemicals help the body cope with the pain of exercising. We then enjoy exercising because these Endorphins make us happy. Laughter is another good way of generating Endorphins.We need to spend 30 minutes exercising every day, read or watch funny stuff to get our day’s dose of Endorphins.
The second neurochemical is Dopamine.It's the same one which gets deficient in Parkinson's disease and whose abnormalities lead to Schizophrenia.In our journey of life, we accomplish many little and big tasks, it releases various levels of Dopamine.When we get appreciated for our work at the office or at home, we feel accomplished and good, that is because it releases Dopamine.This also explains why most housewives are unhappy since they rarely get acknowledged or appreciated for their work. Once, we join work, we buy a car, a house, the latest gadgets, a new house so forth. In each instance, it releases Dopamine and we become happy.Now, do we realize why we become happy when we shop?
The third neurochemical is Serotonin.It is the neurotransmitter which gets boosted by a group of medicines called antidepressants.It is released when we act in a way that benefits others.When we transcend ourselves and give back to others or to nature or to the society, it releases Serotonin. Even, providing useful information on the internet like writing information blogs, answering peoples questions on Quora or Facebook groups will generate Serotonin.That is because we will use our precious time to help other people via our answers or articles.
The final neurochemical is Oxytocin,it is a hormone actually.It is released when we become close to others including humans and our pets.When we hug our friends, family,pets Oxytocin is released.The “Jadoo Ki Jhappi” from Munnabhai does really work.Similarly, when we shake hands or put our arms around someone’s shoulders, various amounts of Oxytocin is released.So, it is simple, we have to exercise every day to get Endorphins, we have to accomplish little goals and get Dopamine, we need to be nice to others to get Serotonin and finally hug our kids, friends,pets and families to get Oxytocin and we will be happy. When we are happy, we can deal with our challenges and problems better.Now, we can understand why we need to hug a child who has a bad mood.
So to. make your child more and more happy day by day …
1.Motivate him to play on the ground-Endorphins
2. Appreciate your child for his small& big achievements -Dopamine
3. Inculcate sharing habit through you to your child-Serotonin
4. Hug your child-Oxytocin.
Hope the above helps you in your quest for Happyness.The main ideas in this blog are from an unknowns whatsapp forward.Acknowledging and thanking for the same.