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Monday, 7 November 2016

Limit to Happiness

Recently I have been told that we have a limited lifetime supply of Happiness. This sparked my interest and inspiration for my next blog post.

Did you know that Happiness is a hormone? I guess on some level I was aware that every feeling and emotion is a chemical reaction, including love, but I never completely grasped the concept. I guess that it was almost intentional because I like to believe feelings like love etc. are close to being magic (yeah, I need to grow up). 

The Happy Hormone, or it's correct term, Serotonin, is one of our many hormones sending signals and messages throughout the body. Serotonin in particular when released, can create the feelings of relaxation, content and calmness.
A fact about Serotonin is that women produce lower levels of this hormone than men. Levels also drop as the menstrual cycle approaches due to their link with the female hormone Oestrogen that when it falls, so does Serotonin (which totally explains PMS and sudden changes in mood). 

Written in an article by Jacob Devaney, founder and director of Culture Collective, Serotonin apparently influences in some way, directly or indirectly, every single one of our 40 million brain cells and scientists believe that an imbalance in this chemical within your brain can lead to depression.

A friend's mother's was actually telling me that each one of us only have a certain amount of Serotonin stored within our brains to last our life time. Once you are out of supply, you are out of supply. And that scared the hell out of me because what if I accidentally use up all my happiness? What if in the next ten years so many amazing things happen that I am constantly releasing large amounts of Serotonin, leaving me with nothing for the rest of my life?

After doing some research drugs, in particular ecstacy and LSD, releases Serotonin in large amounts at once, causing one to feel extremely happy whilst under the influence for 3-4 hours. My belief is that this results in the infamous 'come down' that shortly follows like its shadow. I believe that if you have just used such a large amount of Serotonin in such a short amount of time, it may take hours if not days for the levels to become regular again and fall back into order. 

My friend's mother was not the first person to discuss this subject with me or make these claims. A year ago, during a phase where my friend and I went clubbing almost every weekend, my friend met a guy who took ecstacy pills, and large amounts of it, several times every weekend. He said that he had run out of happiness due to his consistent drug taking. He stated that he is no longer happy. 

In an article This is Your Brain on Serotonin, it claimed that you can increase your Serotonin levels by eating foods rich in Tryptophan (whatever that is) which included seeds, nuts, cheeses, oats, chicken and more.
Reading this article made me feel a lot better. Not only do we not 'run out' of Serotonin, but when levels are low, we can help to increase it. 
Yoga and exercise has also been proven to build up the production. 

Now, I am not an expert on the human anatomy and the hormones associated with it, but after my mild research on the matter, I have come to my own conclusion that we are not in a limited supply of happiness, however, our production levels are not suitable for constant substance taking that causes more than the usual amounts to be released at a time. This can cause you to use up, say, a week or two's supply (estimated) in just one night. 
I know many people who smoke/take substances weekly and use life enhancements frequently, yet show symptoms of depression and hopelessness. I do not doubt that this is due to the substances they are taking is putting their happy levels completely out of whack, and being sober makes it difficult for the chemical to be released.
Or, perhaps, by the time their levels are starting to become normal again, more substances are taken/smoked, putting it straight out of order again and their brain then has to start all over. I don't know. But it makes sense. 

I am not going to tell anyone how to live their life. But I find that people constantly wonder 'why me?' when they feel down in the dumps and take pills every weekend, and can't get back up. I used to be that person. Trust me, I know. 

Being sober, exercising and eating healthy when I can has made me feel more content that I ever did before.
So, I don't know about you but I am exceptionally glad that we do not have a certain amount of happiness and I have not used up majority of my lifetime supply BUT even Serotonin has limits and needs to be used in regular amounts unless something exceptionally wonderful happens or on the odd occasion. But forcing it to be released at the drop of a tablet quite frequently can surely not be good for your mental health. 




Sources:
Specialist Supplements. 2015. Serotonin | How's your happiness hormone? [ONLINE] Available at: https://www,specialistsupplements.com/blog/serotonin-hows-your-happiness-hormone.html. [Accessed 7 November 2016]. 

"This Is Your Brain On Serotonin". UPLIFT N.p., 2016 Web. 7 Nov. 2016.

IMAGE source unfound. The image provided is not my own but I felt it fit the theme. 

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