Washington (Gallant Gold Media Hill Report | Perspective | March 11, 2019)
by Noreen Wise
Is happiness actually simple? Is it at least more simple than we may realize? As it turns out, an essential part of the happiness feeling, the good mood we all want to possess when we start our day, has a lot to do with what we eat for breakfast, as well as how much sunlight, or bright light we get every 24 hours. Aerobic exercise makes a big difference, too.
Happiness really isn’t very complicated.
There are more than 100 neurotransmitters in our brain, with four major ones that work together to stimulate or inhibit our moods. Our mission therefore should be to safely elevate the positive, happy, cheerful good mood neurotransmitters through a simple, easy routine. Equally important, is releasing the calming neurotransmitters when we’re stressed or worried. Our mood affects our perceptions. The glass half full and the glass half empty is the exact same glass.
We’re much happier when we can find the positive side of any negative situation – making lemonade out of lemons.
What are these four major important neurotransmitters that regulate our mood?
- Dopamine – “motivation molecule” that makes us more “productive”
- Norepinephrine – fight or flight stress response
- Serotonin – happiness booster
- GABA – regulates anxiety
There are a few easy and delicious food items that quickly release dopamine, and are wonderful at breakfast. Starting the day on the bright side, seems to kick-off a cheerful chain reaction:
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 6 little squares of dark chocolate (Cadbury is a personal favorite); milk chocolate is NOT the same and will not have same effect
- Large tablespoon of 100% dark cacao powder mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of organic cane sugar and 1/3 cup boiling water
- It’s best to stay away from sugar the rest of the day, except for fruits like bananas and tangerines, etc
Absorbing sunlight (or bright light) through our eyes increases serotonin levels. In order for this to be effective, we have to safely take off our sunglasses so we can fully absorb the sunshine. Finding sporadic moments during the day is well worth the hunt. The office patio for a coffee break. A walk outdoors during lunch can also be a great pick-me-up. When the days get longer in May, June and July, there’s still sunlight in the late afternoon and early evening. When we find good reasons to be outside in the evening, we often feel that much more carefree when the sun goes down.
Aerobic exercise, particularly walking and/or running, is another simple trick that boosts serotonin. Exercise is also a great way to ensure a good nights sleep. Sleep deprivation reeks havoc on our neurotransmitters. Again, keeping our body’ chemistry in balance begins with the melatonin neurotransmitter lulling us into deep sleep. Easiest way to make sure to reach deep sleep is by wearing eye shields to bed. Complete darkness is everything.
One day at a time. Building excellent daily health and happiness habits serves us well throughout our lives. The key is to master these essentials — sunflowers seeds & dark chocolate, sunlight and exercise — so that they become as routine as brushing our teeth.
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