We’ve always heard the great Bollywood villain Mogambo say voh khush hua, meaing he’s happy. But have you ever thought how is he happy? How does happy happen? And can we train ourselves to be happy?
It’s all in the brain. The release of four chemicals in the brain is the reason behind Mogambo’s happiness. Here’s what these chemicals do.
Since we Indians love our acronyms, I came up with one to name these chemicals.
A ‘DOSE’ of happiness can come from the neurotransmitters dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins.
Since we’re not doing a PhD, let’s just call them chemicals. All four of these are released in different situations.
Happiness is a broad term for many feelings and emotions. It can be pleasure, contentment, joy, feeling meaningful etc.
1. You can call dopamine the ‘reward chemical’.
The possibility of getting a reward triggers a dopamine release and you feel good. And then again there’s a pleasure kick when you actually win the reward.
Okay in simpler terms, say you’re playing a video game, you’re charged and excited to go to the next level, which is the reward and then you’re doubly excited when you win.
2. Next is oxytocin – you can call it the ‘cuddle chemical’.
It’s the feeling of trust, closeness and intimacy you have with people you share a good bond with. Two people giggling in love, a baby playing with a dog, a parent with their child, or even sexual intimacy – all of that releases oxytocin and makes you feel that cuddly happiness that makes you go aww.
3. We all love feeling confident and important.
But before you thank your BFF for your good mood, thank serotonin first! It’s the ‘confidence chemical’. It’s released when you feel significant and worthy. And a lack of serotonin makes you feel lonely and depressed.
4. Finally, there are endorphins – the ‘pain killer’.
Endorphin is the body’s natural morphine. It’s released when we feel physical exertion and even when we orgasm. Studies have shown that even drinking alcohol releases this chemical. Hence, the addictive nature of alcohol.
But intentionally hurting yourself to enjoy endorphins is a really bad idea.
Can We Train Ourselves to be Happy?
Science does say that we can take control of our happiness. We can train ourselves to be happy by knowing what makes us feel good and what will release these chemicals.
No, that doesn’t mean you take drugs. That means you focus on positive events in life to feel good.
When there’s Gabbar aka sadness around, there’ll always be Jai Veeru and Basanti aka happiness to shoo the sadness away. We do have the capacity to turn bad into good.
We’re all trying to find and chase happiness, but at the end of the day science says – it’s more or less in your hands!