Make Your Body Produce More ‘Happy’ Hormones: Naturally Boost Dopamine and Serotonin

This story is part of Tech for a Better World, stories about the diverse teams creating products, apps and services to improve our lives and society.

From rising gas prices and surging inflation to the final day-to-day worries of balancing work and life, there’s rather a lot occurring on the planet that may contribute to excessive ranges of stress and nervousness. But there are additionally many rituals that convey me happiness: that first sip of espresso within the morning, cuddles with my kitten, journaling every day on my patio and getting some exercise. Now greater than ever, I’m leaning into these small practices that make a distinction in my day. 

While a cup of espresso will not change whether or not you are feeling really fulfilled, in unsure instances, there’s worth in boosting your temper when you possibly can.

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There are 4 fundamental hormones (a kind of chemical your physique makes) that set off emotions of happiness, and every chemical is related to particular occasions or rewards. Understanding these chemical substances and how they work can assist you determine even small methods to really feel higher amid such a irritating time.

To clarify precisely how these “happiness” chemical substances work, I spoke to Loretta Breuning, founding father of the Inner Mammal Institute and writer of Habits of a Happy Brain.

Happy chemical substances: The secret to a cheerful mind 

Almost the whole lot that makes you are feeling “glad” is linked to one of many 4 happiness hormones: dopamine, serotonin, endorphin and oxytocin. Here are some methods you possibly can increase them naturally.


The hormone dopamine is related to motivation and reward. It’s why you are feeling gumption once you set an thrilling or essential objective, and why it feels good to succeed in that objective. On the flip facet, if in case you have low dopamine (which specialists say can occur with depression), it might clarify emotions of low motivation or lack of curiosity in one thing you used to get pleasure from.

Middle aged man playing tennis

Committing to a pastime or sport can increase your dopamine. 

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“Approaching a reward triggers dopamine. When a lion approaches a gazelle, her dopamine surges and the power she wants for the hunt is launched. Your ancestors launched dopamine once they discovered a water gap,” Breuning says. “The expectation of a reward triggers feeling within the mammal mind, and releases the power you should attain the reward.” 

How to spice up dopamine: 

There are some not-so-healthy habits that improve dopamine like drinking caffeine, consuming sugar or taking sure leisure medicine. But you will discover methods to kick this hormone up with out turning to probably unhealthy or addictive substances. 

“Embrace a brand new objective and take small steps towards it day by day. Your mind will reward you with dopamine every time you are taking a step. The repetition will construct a brand new dopamine pathway till it is large enough to compete with the dopamine behavior that you simply’re higher off with out,” Breuning says. 

You could have already got targets set round your profession, work or how a lot cash you’d prefer to make. But do not forget private targets. Committing to a rewarding pastime or sport could be simply as gratifying as skilled targets. Don’t simply set just a few large targets that may take longer to finish — additionally undertake shorter-term targets so that you keep motivated.

“Set a short-run, long-run, and middle-term objective so you’ll at all times be approaching one when one other is blocked. Focus on issues you’ve management over and do not look ahead to others to set your targets for you,” Breuning says.


Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that performs a task in temper, however it additionally helps regulate other functions in your physique like digestion, sleep and bone well being. When it involves happiness and how you are feeling day by day, serotonin is essential for reducing depression and regulating anxiety.

How to spice up serotonin:

“Confidence triggers serotonin. Monkeys attempt to one-up one another as a result of it stimulates their serotonin. People typically do the identical,” Breuning says. You’ve most likely by no means considered confidence on a neurochemical degree, however in line with Breuning, should you do not prioritize confidence, your serotonin ranges may take a success. 

If you’re trapped in a cycle of low vanity or have had others undermine your confidence, it may be exhausting to construct it again up. It could sound unusual, however do not ignore your want for respect and standing. 

“You can develop your perception in your individual price. If you focus in your losses you’ll depress your serotonin, even should you’re a rock star or a CEO. You can construct the behavior of focusing in your wins. Your serotonin will undergo should you do not,” Breuning says. 

Besides specializing in what you have achieved in life, it’s also possible to construct confidence in different methods. One means to do that is by understanding or adopting a new exercise routine, which helps bolster your confidence once you stick with it over time. Something else you possibly can strive is discovering methods to get out of your comfort zone every day. Every day that you simply problem your self to adapt to one thing new, even when it feels uncomfortable at first, you construct extra confidence. 


Oxytocin is usually referred to as the “love” hormone and is related to how individuals bond and belief one another. Certain actions like kissing, hugging and having intercourse can set off the discharge of oxytocin within the mind. 

It explains why you feel happy when you pet or cuddle with your pets. It’s essential in childbirth since oxytocin helps the mom’s uterus contract to ship the child, and oxytocin performs a task in breastfeeding too. It additionally helps mother and father bond with a child after start.

How to spice up oxytocin:

You can increase oxytocin by being bodily intimate with others. But moreover the bodily side, it is essential to know that there is an emotional connection to how oxytocin is launched.

“Social belief is what triggers oxytocin. If you hug somebody you do not belief, it does not really feel good. Trust comes first. You can construct social belief by taking small optimistic steps towards individuals,” Breuning says. 

You can attain out to a pal or contact you’d prefer to get to know higher. Send somebody a thanks be aware or a card simply to inform them you are desirous about them. “Take a small step towards somebody every day, and they could reciprocate months later, however should you hold doing it you’ll construct belief networks,” Breuning says. 


Endorphins are notoriously linked with train: It’s the phenomenon that explains the runner’s excessive or post-workout endorphin “rush.” They operate as “pure painkillers” that assist decrease ache and maximize pleasure. This chemical expertise can clarify why a runner might be able to push by way of a race with an damage that they do not discover till it is over.

“In the state of nature, it helps an injured animal escape from a predator. It helped our ancestors run for assist when injured. Endorphins advanced for survival, not for partying. If you have been excessive on endorphins on a regular basis, you’d contact scorching stoves and stroll on damaged legs,” Breuning explains.

How to spice up endorphins:

Laughter is one option to increase endorphins naturally. So is consuming dark chocolate, watching your favorite drama on Netflix, working out and meditating

Endorphins are launched in response to ache, however that does not imply it is best to search out methods to trigger your self hurt (like by overexercising or pushing your self past your limits) simply to really feel good. 

“Inflicting hurt on your self to stimulate endorphins is a nasty survival technique. Fortunately, there are higher methods: laughing and stretching. Both of those jiggle your innards in irregular methods, inflicting average put on and tear and average endorphin stream,” she says.

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