Serotonin is responsible for the feelings of pride and and status. It flows when you feel significant or important. This is why public recognition is so important. We are social animals, we need the recognition of others. This is why we have the Academy Awards; this is why we have commencement for graduation, instead of just receiving an email that says, ‘Congratulations, you have graduated. Please print out the PDF of your diploma.‘ It just wouldn’t feel so good right? Therefore the school organizes a big ceremony, you go up on stage and at the exact same moment you feel the surge of serotonin going through your body, here is the best part- your parents and best friends in the audience, also have a surge of serotonin, also feel an intense pride watching you graduate. Serotonin reinforces relationship, it raises our status, it raises our confidence.
Loneliness and depression appears when serotonin is absent. It’s perhaps one of the reasons why people fall into gang and criminal activity – the culture brings experiences that facilitate serotonin release. Unhealthy attention-seeking behavior, such as conspicuous consumption and excessive selfie taking & sharing can also be a cry for what serotonin brings.
What are the healthier ways to trigger our body to release Serotonin? Reflecting on past significant achievements allows the brain to re-live the experience. Our brain does not distinguish between a real or imagined experience (think of a movie that had made you laugh or cry, did the story actually happen to you? Or your emotions were just triggered by your association to the story?) so it produces serotonin in both cases.
This is also a reason why gratitude practices are popular. They remind us that we are valued and have much to value in life. If you need a serotonin boost during a stressful day, take a few moments to reflect on a past achievements and victories. The best is yet to be.
Help others to achieve their goal, because this good feeling is deeply mutual.
Natural sunlight: have lunch or coffee outside and expose yourself to the sun for 20 minutes; our skin absorbs UV rays, which promotes vitamin D and serotonin production. Although too much ultraviolet light can potentially harm our skin, some daily exposure is healthy to boost serotonin levels.
The biological basis for maternal bonding, romantic love and intimacy is a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin promotes ethnocentric behavior, incorporating the trust and empathy of in-groups. It’s released by men and women during orgasm, and by mothers during childbirth and breastfeeding. Oxytocin increases fidelity. The cultivation of oxytocin is essential for creating strong bonds and improved social interactions.
More oxytocin also means less cardiovascular stress and an improved immune system. There are easy ways to take matters into your own hands and train your brain to release more oxytocin, besides having some orgasmic sex.
1. Hug it out
Hug your loved ones more often. Even among strangers, hugging releases oxytocin. That’s why the Free Hug movement is so widely popular and recently Samantha Hess from Portland has started her Cuddle Up to Me business, where she offers cuddling and/or spooning at $60/hr. In Japan, cuddling cafes are also very common and popular.
Dr. Paul Zak, professor of economic psychology and management at Claremont Graduate University, recommends 8 hugs a day.
2. Watch a tearjerker
Seeing an emotionally compelling movie is the best oxytocin releaser- makes oxytocin surge 47%. Why? Because our brains process the plot and characters as if they were in the room with us.
Belting out show tunes, singing in a choir, or even doing karaoke is an instant oxytocin trigger, but only if you’re doing it with other people. Consider taking part in the Voice yet?
4. Shall we dance
There’s nothing quite like partnered dancing to get your oxytocin fix. In one experiment, Dr. Paul Zak drew the blood of dancers before and after a night of dancing. He found that the oxytocin levels of the dancers rose 11%, regardless of age or gender. They also reported feeling closer to others and closer to “something bigger than themselves.” That’s very spiritual, too.
5. Spend time with your loved ones
Be it having a meal together, or doing a sport, visiting a museum, or traveling to a new place, sometimes thrill and moderate stress makes a bonding experience even better.
6. Say the L word
I love you. I love you. I love you. Say it to yourself in the mirror every morning, and say it to everyone that you meet, with your eyes, at least.
This is what Dr. Paul Zak had discover through the Trust Game, in which pairs of participants communicate with each other via computer terminals:
- They never meet, and have no idea who the other person is.
- Person A is given £10, then invited to send a portion of it, electronically, to person B.
- According to the rules, which both players know about, any money that A sends to B will triple in value.
- Person B will then have the option of sending some of it back as a thank-you.
According to conventional notions of rational behaviour, the game should break down before it has begun. Person B, acting selfishly, has no reason to give any money back – and, knowing this, person A shouldn’t send any over in the first place.
Yet, in trials of the game, 90% of A-people send money, while 95% of B-people send some back. Analysis of the oxytocin in their bloodstreams reveals what is going on: by sending money to person B, person A is giving a sign of trust– and being on the receiving end of a sign of trust, it emerges, causes oxytocin to increase, motivating more generous behaviour in return. Trust in one person triggers oxytocin in the other, which triggers more trustworthy behaviour, and so on, in a virtuous circle.
Wonderful isn’t it? Hope you have enjoyed the articles, and may happiness always be with you.