Why We Do The Things We Do?

I have learnt something amazing, why we do things that we do? I already knew that pleasure and pain were our main drivers, meaning that we either choose to do something or not to do something based on our perception whether it will bring pleasure or pain. But now I also know why!

Because we are all addicts! This was a bit confronting to hear, but yes, you heard me right, we are actually addicted to the feelings that certain hormones create in our bodies based on our experiences! The funny thing is, like with most things in our lives, the longest lasting effect is not created by a ‘happy hormone’!

So what am I referring to here? There are some natural hormones in our bodies that moderate our feeling of happiness and well-being. Some of them you would know already.

  1. Dopamine

This drives your brain’s reward system, triggered by the anticipation of a reward or something new. If you get a praise for a job well-done you will get a dopamine hit.

This also drive pleasure-seeking behaviour, even though it will only stay in your blood stream for 2 minutes!

You can actually boost this hormone when you achieve your goals, or if you set yourself tasks that you will reward yourself for.

  1. Oxytocin

This one here is your ‘love’ hormone. Oxytocin has also been linked to life satisfaction levels by the Claremont University of California. It creates the feeling of trust, belonging and safety among other things.

Oxytocin can be boosted by spending time with loved ones, holidays, weddings and other special occasions. But be vary, stress actually blocks this hormone. So if you are not managing your stress you can be depriving yourself of this happy hormone.

Even though we link them to such special occasions, the hit we get will only last for 6 minutes in our blood!

happy hormones

  1. Endorphins

You must have heard about endorphins. This is one of the most well-known hormones out there. So what do they actually do? They help you feel alive! They block pain, and release adrenalin. They help you feel your emotions. And the experience doesn’t have to be real, even your memory of things can release endorphins.

Endorphins will help you combat stress. There are simple things you can implement to release endorphins, starting with a smile, exercise and of course chocolates. You can also boost it with spicy food, sunshine or looking at old photos to recreate great memories.

Endorphins will stick around for 4 hours.

Medals

  1. Serotonin

Serotonin gives you the feeling of winning, being of importance, having recognition and status. We love feeling special and important, this is why people will do amazing things for ribbons and medals!

Apart from that, that is where ‘keeping up with the Jones’ syndrome hits you. People who like this feeling will often need to get the latest gadget, car, house to elevate their status.

And whilst the cost of some of these will stay with you for years to come, the effect of the hormone will wane in 24 hours.

A much easier boost to this hormone is to exercise daily. If you can also beet a personal best at the same time, you can get a double whammy!

Stress

As you can see the longest lasting ‘happy hormone’ stays with us for 24 hours. Do you want to know the flip side of the coin? It is a hormone called Cortisol – otherwise known as the stress hormone. Cortisol is created based on the anticipation of harm, fear or stress.

Elevated cortisol levels have severe effects on our health, like lower immune function, weight gain, cholesterol and heart disease, not to mention depression. And get this, its effects will last for up to 3 years in your blood stream!

Not sure about you, but it tells me I have to create a whole lot of happiness in my life! How will you make it happen?