by Utkarsh Shrivastava – In our daily life, we deal with a lot of things, be it work, life, relationships, personal endeavors, or maybe even just regular things not going right. It might seem large to some people, and not so much to others, but everyone is dealing with their own demons in their own way, and needs to deal all by themselves. Being in such a workaholic environment, and inevitably being a part of the rat race, most of us often tend to forget the big picture of things, of why we do take these decisions, run these races, or even why do we do the things that we do.
As far as I have seen and observed, everyone craves happiness. Some people might associate it with academic and professional success, some might link it to money, some to love, some to reputation, to an eternal happiness (God), to food, and so on and so forth. However, in essence, what everyone truly craves is satisfaction. Without this feeling, it’s all a moot point. You can go on and on through life, achieving, progressing, gaining, but always find your cup seemingly empty. So what is this “happiness” actually? What makes you go on in life, feel good (though temporarily) when you achieve your goals, when you get what you want, what you crave?
Well, scientifically and biologically speaking, the answer is – “It’s all hormones”. Whatever feeling we have is a product of a combination of hormones. The human body is a complex one, and one of the greatest marvels we know of in this universe. Not just humans, but most animals are guided by these hormones throughout their life. Without these hormones, there would be no feelings. And what are these hormones? Well there are many, but the most primary and important set consists of 4 hormones: Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and the Endorphins. And these are the ones, primarily responsible for all of our feelings and emotions. Whenever you feel motivation or a sense of achievement, it’s Dopamine being released into your bloodstream. Whenever you get a general feeling of happiness and elation, that’s Serotonin at work. Whenever you feel trust, love and attachment or bonding towards someone or something, that’s due to Oxytocin. Other feelings of pleasure and euphoria are generated by the release of Endorphins, which also act as the body’s natural pain killers, be it physical or emotional. Consequently, the lack of these hormones is also perceived as our emotions. A lack of Dopamine and Serotonin causes frustration, fatigue, a lack of energy, sadness, anxiety, aggression and low self-esteem. The feeling of detachment, jealousy, betrayal and emotional pain can be attributed to the lack of Oxytocin and different types of Endorphins.
These are not the only hormones acting in the body and affecting the feelings. Nor are these the only functions performed by these hormones. However, the primary component of feelings and emotions are these biological chemicals. Combinations of these all along with many other hormones are what cause us to feel in certain ways. For instance, you might have observed that it feels much easier to remember stuff when you are relaxed, or in a happier state versus the memory loss we feel in an anxiety attack. This is because of the role of serotonin in improving memory. People feel much more happy and generous and also attached towards their partners after sex. This is because of the release of Oxytocin during sex. And these hormones can also contribute to negative behaviors. For example, the release of hormones like dopamine can contribute to addiction.
The persistent presence of any emotional state also has long term effects on the body and mind, and also on our genetics! Someone who is constantly under stress and under hormone depleted conditions is likely to develop more disease, age faster, have issues processing information, and become conditioned for such situations because of the role of these hormones in altering our thought process, cellular repair mechanisms and activation and deactivation of several genes and growth factors. On the contrary, the opposite happens for people living in a positive atmosphere, with an enriching community. This leads to a happier individual, and also allows them to lead a healthier life.
In my own opinion, at least 50% to 75% of our perceived problems can be just solved by regulating our hormonal cycles. This also very much depends on our diet, sleep cycles, our daily interactions with people, our work and our hobbies. Adjusting our diet and exercise can help balance our Dopamine and Endorphin release. Taking part in group activities and improving Vitamin C intake can boost Oxytocin production in the body. Doing something you love, anything other than what you consider work, will boost Serotonin biosynthesis. It doesn’t need to be anything special, just simple things that give you pleasure, be it dancing, singing, playing a game, painting, making origami, or even cooking. Take some time out for yourself; no one is too busy to take care of their own health. And it’s not just that, it will lead to you living a happier life, and encouraging others to do the same, and in turn, make this world a better place.