The Science of Feeling Happy

What is happiness? Do you ever wonder, “why am I not happy” or “how to feel happy?” You’re not alone! 

The Don’t Worry Be Happy lyrics make it seem like happiness is a switch that can simply be turned on or off. While we do love the hits of Bobby McFerrin, happiness isn’t quite so simple. Drinking plenty of water, maintaining close relationships, and practicing good wellness habits can all help improve our mood and increase our life satisfaction, but aren’t solely responsible for happiness.

Our brains are complicated organs, and you can't make yourself happy with just willpower alone. To better understand how to pursue happiness, let’s do a deep dive into the science behind feeling happy. 

What Chemicals Make You Happy? 

So what makes you happy? Well, one way to think about happiness is to think of it as the product of a chemical reaction. There are several chemicals in our brain that allow us to experience joy. Here are a few of the most important ones: 
  • Dopamine: This “feel good” chemical is heavily associated with our brain’s reward system. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that activates the pleasure centers in our brains. 
    The Science of Feeling Happy
  • Serotonin: Serotonin is a hormone largely responsible for regulating our moods. Serotonin deficiency can often lead to conditions such as clinical depression.
    What Chemicals Make You Happy?
  • Oxytocin: Sometimes referred to as the love hormone, oxytocin plays a vital role in childbirth and parent-child bonding. Physical stimuli like kissing can increase a person’s oxytocin. 
  • Endorphins: These are the body’s natural pain killer and usually increase during activities such as working out, having sex, or eating a particularly delicious meal.
  • Anandamide: This endocannabinoid derives its name from the Sanskrit word for bliss! Anandamide plays a role in regulating our appetite and mood, as well as our feelings of pleasure and reward. 

    happy chemicals found in cannabis

How to Increase Happy Brain Chemicals 

It makes sense that increasing the amount of happy brain chemicals in your body would improve your overall net happiness, and luckily, there are ways to boost the compounds for an overall happier life.
Positive thoughts and certain self-care practices are good for your body and your mental health by stimulating the production of the aforementioned hormones and neurotransmitters. 

For example, spending time in the sun may make you feel happier. Research shows that adding more sunshine into your life can raise endorphin and serotonin production. Just make sure to put on some sunblock to protect your skin! Similarly, exercise can be a great way to stay healthy while also releasing endorphins. 

Making time for your personal relationships is another great way to increase happy hormones. Sharing a laugh with your friends helps to increase dopamine, and engaging in intimate touch, even something as benign as a hug can amp up oxytocin levels. 

Can CBD Oil Give a Feeling of Serenity and Happiness

Certain supplements can also be effective tools for creating more happy chemicals. CBD is particularly good at stimulating anandamide production. The way CBD indirectly binds to the cannabinoid receptors in our ECS triggers our bodies to produce more natural anandamide.

Since anandamide is a key neurotransmitter associated with happiness, taking CBD can give users increased feelings of happiness, especially those who may be suffering from endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome.

When it comes to administering CBD, it’s important to know that oral methods of consumption like CBD oils or CBD tinctures have low bioavailability. This means that much of the CBD in these products won’t make it into your bloodstream, so you may have to increase your dose. Inhalation methods like the elon® are far more effective at delivering cannabinoids, so therefore, you will need less overall product when using these methods.

What is Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome? 

The endocannabinoid system plays a vital role in many of our body’s key functions, including mood, appetite, and memory retention, just to name a few.

One theory from famed cannabis researcher DR. Ethan Russo suggests that when this system isn’t operating properly and creating enough endocannabinoids, it can result in chronic illness. Dr. Russo’s research suggests that conditions like migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome may be caused by a lack of endocannabinoids. Dr. Russo calls this underlying condition Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome (EDS).  

Luckily, Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome could be reversible. Proper diet and exercise can go a long way towards promoting a healthy endocannabinoid system. Taking supplemental cannabinoids such as CBD could also play a role in treating EDS.    

Lifestyle Science