Inspiration, life, life lessons, Living Out Loud Pub, Love and Connection, mindset

How The Four Happy Hormones Can Help Replenish Your Vitality

#3 Oxytocin, the love hormone.

by Gerthy Bingoly



The human body is a machine made to feel, an apparatus of excitement and pain, a box of emotions. Those feel good and feel bad moments are at the center of your everyday activities. The difference between waking up with a smile and jumping out of bed with a fright can drastically affect the tasks you planned to do.

Your energy levels, and without a doubt, your health, are closely related to the feelings happening in that little heart of yours. It’s a complex relationship, or rather an equation. One, I believe, we must solve every day.

When your energy level is high, you have more resources to help you during the day. From excitement to pain tolerance and from focus to willpower, you have more tools to power through the intricacies life throws at you, more means to resist the temptation of that snooze button.

On the contrary, when your energy level is low, the absence of those resources, the absence of that net, leaves you exposed to most of the negative feelings out there. Thus, the tendencies to take the path of least resistance.

Happiness has the power to bring you the energy you need. By understanding your body, you have the chance to create that feeling of well-being, joy, and contentment. Those four hormones can help you on that journey.


1. Dopamine, The Anticipation Hormone

Dopamine is known as the feel-good neurotransmitter — a chemical that ferries information between neurons. The brain releases it when we eat food that we crave or while we have sex, contributing to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction as part of the reward system.

Some twenty years ago, the little kid I was, was always excited at the start of December. Every first of the month, I would write a letter to Santa and then eagerly wait to unpack my gifts. That little action of putting words on paper was enough to make me happy and full of energy for the weeks to come.

The little kids have it a bit easier here: more things to discover and less to worry about — in most cases. As adults, you can do the same. You can use anticipation to bring happiness into your daily life.

I wake up at 4 am every Monday to Friday, and while I do my best to be in bed before 10 pm, a good night’s sleep is not the only reason why my phone and the wall haven’t met yet. I know I’m lazy, so I give myself rewards throughout the day. Every four hours, to be exact.

Early in the morning, I give myself a bit of social media time. When the sun starts waking up, just before work, it’s my cartoon time, with a bowl of cereals and some sweets. At noon, it’s lunch and fresh air. When twilight rings, I let my body sweat as I work out. And when the day is about to end, I give my body the pleasure of sleep.

It can be a food you’re eager to eat, a book you’re excited to read, someone you want to meet, an oncoming gathering with loved ones, or simply watching the sunset. In either case, you can use those little things you like to make you happier. Reward yourself.


2. Endorphins, The Soothing Hormone

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.

A lot of people exercise nowadays. You don’t even have to look on your phone, take a peek out your window long enough, and you’ll see someone jogging outside. While some people train for a competition or simply to stay in shape, you can use it to be a little happier.

You don’t have to work out for one hour every day. You don’t even have to go to the gym. Fifteen minutes in the comfort of your home is enough. Sweat a bit, don’t forget to stretch and take a good shower — a simple formula of happiness.

Exercising is good for the focus it provides, it’s a good method to center yourself and calm your emotions. And it comes with a bonus. It makes you hella proud of yourself.


3. Oxytocin, The Love Hormone

Oxytocin is typically linked to warm, fuzzy feelings and shown in some research to lower stress and anxiety. It has the power to regulate our emotional responses and pro-social behaviors, including trust, empathy, gazing, positive memories, processing of bonding cues, and positive communication.

Love can give us the strength to slay giants. Ask Goliath if you don’t believe me. It’s one of those feelings that can make you look like another person, a version of yourself you didn’t know existed. It can make you shine with confidence and unexpected willpower.

And I’m not just talking about passionate love. Any kind of love has the power to make you happy. We’re social beings. We like to be connected to people, in touch or thought.

While it is okay to be alone, and I insist on this, it is okay to be alone. It is also okay to take time for yourself, time to heal. But please, find the strength to connect with the ones you love.

Life is about balance, and nothing is created out of nothing. Every one of us is busy living his life, and most often than not, we’re not aware of the whereabouts of others. Don’t wait for happiness, don’t wait for love, take action, and go get it. It is your right, and you deserve it.

There are lots of ways to feel love.

About one month ago, I started a “hello stranger” routine (if you have a cooler name, let me know). Each time I entered any store, I took the time to talk to one person, usually the cashier or the employee on the floor. We would talk about anything, deviating from the product to life, talking about a Netflix show in a cannabis store, or about engineering in a shopping center.

Love creates love, and happiness creates happiness. Spread them, and they’ll surely come back to you. It’s contagious.

Talk to someone, call a friend, or cuddle your cat. But take action, your body and your heart will thank you for it. Though, do it at your own pace, one step at a time.


4. Serotonin, The Mood Hormone

Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes your mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. This hormone impacts your entire body. It enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other.

The phrase “you are what you eat” takes all its sense here. One thing you can do to regulate your mood hormone is to control your diet, not to reduce your weight, but to feel comfortable in your body.

Every morning, as soon as I wake up, my bottle of water is waiting for me at my bedside. A couple of sips and I’m ready to go out of bed. The human body is made of 60 percent of water, more so in the brain and the lungs, and one glass can jump-start your metabolism.

What you eat during the day also matters, particularly at lunch. I’m not a nutritionist, but a well-constructed meal of protein, veggies, and fewer carbs, does wonder for my body. And taking a short walk in the sun lightens up my mood for the rest of the afternoon.

A good night’s sleep can also help improve your levels of serotonin. And with it your mood the next morning. In the evening, a light meal usually does the trick. You don’t want to put too much strain on your stomach while Morpheus is calling you.


The Takeaway

The human body is like an engine, and like every machine, it needs fuel to rise to its full potential. That energy can be found in the small actions you take during the day, actions endowed with happiness.

And of course some days you’ll be sad. Always acknowledge your feelings, but remember that you cannot protect yourself from sadness without opening your heart to happiness.

Benjamin Franklin said:

Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life.”

You don’t have to wait for the day, and you don’t have to wait for the one. You can take action now. Life is much more enjoyable when we have the strength to live it.


ABOUT GERTHY BINGOLY

Writing about the things the eye cannot see, and looking for inspiration where my feet cannot take me. Write me a few words at gerthywrites@gmail.com or reach me on instagram.com/gerthywrites


Originally published by Living Out Loud on Medium

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Inspiration, life, life lessons, Living Out Loud Pub

How to Absolutely, Positively Get Life Right

By Julia Hubbel

Before you throw your laptop at my head, read this first:

  • The best way to be different is to consistently do the things other people refuse to do.
  • The best way to live the life you dream is to stop obsessing about what other people think.
  • The best way to succeed is to out think, out hustle, and outwork everyone else. Not to avoid the work, but to do more of it, do it better and be willing to make the sacrifices others can’t be bothered to make.

Let’s talk about what that means in real life…

There is no perfect way to be or live as long as you are following someone else’s way of being or living. The single best way to live a life full of joy for ourselves is to be willing to do the work to identify what gives us joy. What ways can you and I make a difference in the world are unique to us, whether that means getting into police work or becoming a social worker, learning to be a college professor and sharing your love of Shakespeare, or finding your expression through art.

My life has been immeasurably improved by people such as the community college professor who got into teaching simply because she wanted to share her passion for Shakespeare with a bunch of Florida youngsters. I will forever be indebted to her for helping me feel his words, rather than just read them. I still love the bard’s material, for she taught me how to love literature my way, not her way. That has been a lifetime gift. How would you love to be remembered decades later for being such a powerful influence in a young life? Five decades later I still think about her. That is an influencer in the best possible way.

There is no perfect way to journey to your best life. The only way we get there is our way, which can be helped, but not lived, by others. We can solicit advice, but one of the prices we pay for wisdom is knowing when said advice doesn’t necessarily apply to us. Our parents may want us to follow a certain career path, because it gives them pride and social bragging rights. Our hearts may say that we’d be far happier doing Peace Corps work, which may not impress their social circle but which feeds our soul. This may lead to disagreement, but you are following your heart.

My father was both irritated and disappointed when I told him I didn’t want kids and was doing something about it permanently. Dad wanted grandkids, I didn’t want children. To have had kids to please my father would have been disastrous for both of us, to say nothing of the kids. Often, those of us who have pretty clear ideas about being parents know it early. No matter what social pressures exist to do otherwise, following our hearts in this matter is likely better all around, for being willing to stand your ground to live the life you prefer is a key part of becoming a fully-realized adult. You don’t owe your parents grandchildren. You owe the world, and yourself, a well-lived life, which may not mean you bear children. That’s for you to decide.

I joined the Army in 1973, an act that nearly drove my mother over a cliff. That turned out to be one of the smartest moves of my life. Seriously good and seriously bad things happened, but in nearly every conceivable way those five years fundamentally redirected and structured my life for the better. Had I listened to my mother, or to friends, I never would have joined in the waning years of the Vietnam War.

That was a hugely unpopular move for the time, especially for a woman. It was right for me, and that is all that matters. I had done my research, looked at all the services, and before I took the oath I knew what I was getting into, at least as best as anyone can with such a monumental decision. I didn’t worry about what folks thought. The Army was right for me right then.

There is no way to hack, outsmart, avoid or otherwise sidestep the real work. While the above quotes say to “out hustle,” that has nothing whatsoever to do with finding ways around the difficult, sometimes overwhelming effort it can take to get where you want to go. That might be your PhD, it could be an around the world adventure, it doesn’t matter. My boyfriend was the youngest of four boys. Growing up in Jersey, he had a brute of a father who regularly beat the kids. He got the worst of it, until he discovered weight lifting. He threw his whole heart and soul into learning how to build his muscles and his strength. Eventually there came a day when, even as a very young man, he backed his father off, once and for all.

When my boyfriend went away to college, out of sheer spite for the fact that he could no longer bully his youngest boy, the father tossed out all of his son’s many bodybuilding trophies. But he couldn’t change the fact that his son, now in his early fifties and still incredibly fit, had done the work. And had forced his hand, a hand he would never use against his family again. The self-discipline that my boyfriend learned as a skinny adolescent he still applies today. The fit bodies he and I both have are the result of endless hours in the gym and disciplined eating. There are no easy shortcuts. And finally….

Fear is infectious

Other’s fear about what might happen to you can cripple your hopes and dreams. My mother was fearful her whole life, from her terror about the Army to every single other major decision I made. Especially about sports. My mother had been an excellent horse rider, and she had dreams to travel to Africa. Yet when I took on some hair-raising sports, such as sky diving, all I heard was that I had a “death wish.” When I traveled to Africa and Australia, I had a “death wish.”

In fact, yes, I did. But not the way she meant it.



I didn’t want to die having not lived life the way I wished to live it

I learned, finally, not to tell my mother about anything I did until after I’d already done it. Until the big reveal, she was in blissful ignorance about my latest adventures. She may have (and did) envied me, but she didn’t have faith in me. That’s crippling — but that lack of faith had nothing to do with me whatsoever. Those were fears she carried. That’s the same thing that happens when others try to talk you out of your dreams. Their commitment to hold you back has less to do with a genuine concern for your safety (unless they know you to be an irrational, irresponsible fool, which is another story entirely) than it does with operating out of their own insecurities or jealousies. You simply cannot live an extraordinary life listening to the fears of ordinary people who cannot see or feel what you do.

There is nothing wrong with living an ordinary life. Most of us are achingly ordinary in most things. Billions wear size Medium. Billions have brown eyes. Billions share a great many characteristics.

But only a few live extraordinary lives. The trick is to decide that you are worth the work, then to do the work, and don’t ask for others to approve. Chances are, they won’t.

For my part, that’s a pretty good indicator that I’m on the right track.


The author kayaking in the Svalbard Islands – Julia Hubbel

About Julia Hubbel

Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

Read more of Julia’s work on Medium


Also published by Living Out Loud on Medium

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