4 Happy Brain Chemicals You Can Harness

4 Happy Brain Chemicals You Can Harness

Sometimes it isn’t easy getting through the day so why not take advantage of your built in happy brain chemicals to lift you up when you need lifting. Sure, you can go to your conventional doctor and be prescribed an anti-depressant to chemically alter your mood so things don’t seem so bleak. For some, this is a life saver but if sadness is not your everyday diagnosis then there are natural ways to minimize it when it is.

These 4 happy brain chemicals you can harness are always there, ready to put a spring back in your step when you may be stumbling along.


A good way to remember these four brain chemicals is by using the acronym DOSE.

  • Dopamine
  • Oxytocin
  • Serotonin
  • Endorphins

Each one has a different task that, when released individually or as a whole, has shown to significantly improve mood. There are a variety of natural ways you can utilize these chemicals which are simple and often enjoyable. All it takes is slowing down to apply a little focus to your mind and body for some beneficial results.

Dopamine: Pleasure Goals

The neurotransmitter dopamine is activated when you set to achieve a goal or seek out a reward. It is coined the “pleasure hormone” (even though it’s not a hormone) which makes you feel good through an incentive-reward cycle.

It is believed that those who are highly successful have large amounts of dopamine while others who may not be as motivated have a low or depressed amount.

Cornell University reported on past work by clinical psychologist, Richard Depue, former professor of human development and family studies and director of the Laboratory of Neurobiology of Personality and Emotion at Cornell, stating that,

“The higher the level of dopamine, or the more responsive the brain is to dopamine, the more likely a person is to be sensitive to incentives and rewards.”

According to Professor Depue,

“When our dopamine system is activated, we are more positive, excited and eager to go after goals or rewards, such as food, sex, money, education or professional achievements,”

To apply a dopamine release it is recommended to:

  • Exercise – Physical activity has been shown to increase dopamine so get off the couch and get your blood flowing. You can go all out and start a workout regiment or take a brisk walk three or more times per week.
  • Watch Your Diet – Eat less sugar; Reduce caffeine intake; Consume bananas which contain the amino acid tyrosine (a dopamine supporter) which can also be taken supplementally; Check magnesium which, if deficient, can affect dopamine levels.
  • Achieve – set goals and understand the reward from achieving those goals and make sure you really want them.

Oxytocin: Get Loving

You may have heard a lot about the opioid oxycontin but you may not know that your brain releases a similar chemical called oxytocin. Researchers have found that this chemical makes you feel good when you experience touch, intimacy, trust, love and compassion. It is most likely Nature’s way to keep the human race pro-creating.

A study titled, ‘The orgasmic history of oxytocin: Love, lust, and labor’ published in The Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism concluded,

“The story of oxytocin begins right before pregnancy, continues during birth and later, travels from the brain to the heart and throughout the entire body, triggering, or modulating a full range of physiological functions and emotions: happiness, attraction, love, affection,…”

Tap into your oxytocin reserves by trying these four things:

  • Meditate – Shutting down your mind to stress allows for more oxy flow
  • Touch and Be Touched – Massage, sex, even a hug releases oxytocin
  • Don’t Tax Your Diet – Saturated fats and refined sugars impede oxy release
  • Exercise – Once again, exercise is key in opening feel good pathways

Serotonin: Good Mood Food

When it is lacking, the neurotransmitter serotonin has been linked to depression, fear and aggression. However normal to high levels of this compound are capable of generating positive mood change, feelings of relaxation and helping you sleep through the night.

The University of Cambridge reported on a 2011 study from Biological Psychiatry stating,

“The findings suggest that when serotonin levels are low, it may be more difficult for the prefrontal cortex to control emotional responses to anger that are generated within the amygdala [the emotional system of the brain].”

Boost your brain’s good mood food by:

  • Exercise – Physical activity seems to be a constant for happy brain chemical release
  • Tryptophan – Taking this supplement or eating foods high in tryptophan help increase serotonin
  • Get plenty of natural bright light – Studies show that natural bright light keeps us happy
  • Think positive – It has been shown that humans are able to ‘will’ serotonin release

Endorphins: Quash Pain

Release of endorphins shuts down pain receptors. Some people who run long distances report a euphoria or a ‘runner’s high’ after experiencing pain in the beginning of the run. Others get an endorphin rush when they are in an emergency situation where pain would normally hinder their life saving abilities.

There are many ways endorphins are released and finding your own ability to tap into them may give you a pain-free ride which, in turn, can make you happy.

A 2008 study posted on Science Daily conducted by German researchers at the University of Bonn stated,

“The increased production of endorphins resulting from long-distance running could also serve as the body’s own pain-killer, a potent potential therapeutic option.”

Release your inner aspirin. Here are a few ways to harness your natural endorphin painkillers:

  • Vanilla/Lavender –  Scent of vanilla or lavender is linked to endorphin release
  • Exercise – One more time, the power of physical fitness prevails
  • Go Spicy – Tongue receptors signal endorphin release to relieve the sting of spicy food
  • LOL – Laughing churns up all sorts of good feelings including a pain-free response

These 4 happy brain chemicals you can harness show how sometimes it’s easier to trust your own body than rely on synthetic remedies. See if they work for you.