Being happy – How does it work?
Being happy is a difficult feat. Yet, often we find it is only the simplest thing that encourages a smile or a laugh. These are voluntary factors or events that occur in your life, for instance if your partner proposes, or if it is your birthday. Of course there are also voluntary factors which decrease happiness. The focus of this article however is on involuntary factors that affect happiness. This is where the science of your body comes in!
One example of a scientific element that increases happiness is oxytocin, a hormone which the brain releases when people hug. Childbirth and breastfeeding release oxytocin, meaning that women experience higher levels of the hormone. However, the body also produces oxytocin when people hug. It is produced by the hypothalamus in the brain, and scientists link it to the formation of romantic relationships. As a result of this, oxytocin is commonly labelled the ‘love’ hormone.
It is well known that chemicals called endorphins boost your mood and make you feel good. The brain releases endorphins when you exercise, laugh or engage in sexual activity. These chemicals not only provide pain relief, but also create the sensation of pleasure and happiness. Endorphins could also help to fight mental illnesses such as depression by boosting self-esteem. However, there is no research to prove this as of yet, and the amount of endorphins released may vary from person to person.
Actions and behaviours also have psychological effects. Acts of altruism or helping others activate areas in the brain associated with pleasure and reward. The Framingham Heart Study in 2008 showed that emotions such as happiness transfer from one person to another through mimicking behaviours and expressions. The researchers also examined social networks, for example families, and concluded that ‘happy people tend to be connected to one another.’ Then simply the presence of a happy person influences your personal sense of happiness.
Some psychologists and scientists believe positive, happy relationships and friendships ward off illness, as the brain controls mechanisms linked to illnesses. Furthermore, researchers believe that friendship has a much bigger impact on happiness than factors such as money. In 2006, Professor Oswald at Warwick University estimated that the sum of £50,000 makes up the happiness you lose when you don’t have friends. Read more about this here.
A lot of these scientific and involuntary responses to happiness involve voluntary action such as partaking in exercise or making friends. Yet, the body helps you by ensuring that you get the best and most positive feeling out of the experience. Aren’t human beings clever? To reach the height of happiness, you and your body must work together. As long as you do your bit and put in the effort, your body and brain delivers the rest!
Feeling healthy can also have positive impacts on our emotional wellbeing. Our Lymphatic Vacuum Massage is ideal for this, as it encourages the flow of the lymphatic system which flushes toxins out of the body. It can also help with blotchiness of the skin and provide relief from pain, making you feel better inside and out!