1. Serotonin: “The Confidence Molecule”
Serotonin plays so many different roles in our bodies. Ultimately, the link between higher serotonin and a lack of rejection sensitivity allows people to put themselves in situations that will bolster self-esteem, increase feelings of worthiness, and create a sense of belonging. To increase serotonin, challenge yourself regularly and pursue things that reinforce a sense of purpose, meaning and accomplishment. Being able to say “I did it!” will produce a feedback loop that will reinforce behaviors that build self-esteem and make you less insecure and create an upward spiral of more and more serotonin.
2. Endorphins: “The Pain-Killing Molecule”
The name Endorphin translates into “self-produced morphine.” Endorphins resemble opiates in their chemical structure and have analgesic properties. Endorphins are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus during strenuous physical exertion, sexual intercourse and orgasm. Make these pursuits a part of your regular life to keep those endorphins pumping.
3. Adrenaline: “The Energy Molecule”
Adrenaline, technically known as epinephrine, plays a large role in the fight or flight mechanism. The release of epinephrine is exhilarating and creates a surge in energy. Adrenaline causes an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and works by causing less important blood vessels to constrict, thus increasing blood flow to larger muscles. A surge of adrenaline makes you feel very alive. It can be an antidote for boredom, malaise and stagnation. Taking risks, and doing scary things that force you out of your comfort zone is key to maximizing your human potential. However, some people often act recklessly to get an adrenaline rush. If you’re an “Adrenaline Junkie”, try to balance potentially harmful novelty-seeking by focusing on behaviors that will make you feel good by releasing other neurochemicals on this list.
4. Dopamine: “The Reward Molecule”
Dopamine is responsible for reward-driven behavior and pleasure seeking. Every type of reward-seeking behavior that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain. If you want to get a hit of dopamine, set a goal and achieve it. Dopamine is the chemical that mediates pleasure in the brain. It is released during pleasurable situations and stimulates one to seek out the pleasurable activity or occupation. Dopamine motivates us to take action toward goals, desires, and needs, and gives a surge of reinforcing pleasure when achieving them.
5. GABA: “The Anti-Anxiety Molecule”
GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) is an inhibitory molecule that slows down the firing of neurons and creates a sense of calmness. Think of it as the brain’s own natural Valium. It enables your brain to put an end to persistent worrying thoughts going around in your mind. You can increase GABA naturally by practicing yoga or meditation.
6. Oxytocin: “The Bonding Molecule”
Oxytocin is a hormone directly linked to human bonding, and increasing trust and loyalty. In some studies, high levels of oxytocin have been correlated with romantic attachment. Some studies show if a couple is separated for a long period of time, the lack of physical contact reduces oxytocin and drives the feeling of longing to bond with that person again. But there is some debate as to whether oxytocin has the same effect on men as it does on women. In men, vasopressin (a close cousin to oxytocin) may actually be the “bonding molecule.” But again, the bottom line is that skin-to-skin contact, affection, and intimacy are key to feeling happy.
Sources: besthealthmag.ca, psychologytoday.com, news-medical.net