The Chemistry of Feeling Good


The pursuit of happiness is generally the underlying cause for our goals and aspirations. However, this transient joy dissipates not long after it arrives, much like the life of a butterfly - short and fleeting. 

Another philosophy suggests that happiness need not be postponed. Living a balanced life, an unhurried life, helps us feel happy right now. The secret for achieving this, the right concoction for a happy and balanced life, is actually produced right inside our body.

Know your feel-good hormones

Chemical messengers in your body, or hormones affect the way you function and how you feel. Some hormones dubbed as “feel-good hormones”, i.e. Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins, are chemicals with the ability to produce positive feelings. Now that you know happiness is in the power of your own hands (mind and body), rituals and slow living practices can help you harness them. 


Reward chemical

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Ever walked past a bakery or caught the whiff of fresh coffee in the morning, and suddenly, everything felt better? Known as the "reward chemical," dopamine is released when we cross things off our to-do lists, reach small or big milestones or indulge ourselves with good food or in self-care rituals like a long bath or a spa session. In turn, dopamine is responsible for motivation, attention and memory. 

When we slow down with intent, we immerse ourselves to truly cherish moments that bring us joy - whether it's cooking a meal, brewing coffee or taking a walk amidst nature. By slowing down and being present, we maximise our dopamine release and find greater satisfaction in everyday life.


Love hormone/ cuddle hormone

Commonly associated with the feelings of connection, trust, and well-being, oxytocin is referred to as the "love hormone”. The essence of love stretches beyond romantic relationships, it's a feeling cultivated through connections with friends, family, animals, and self-love. Oxytocin is known to promote trust, relaxation and empathy.

By slowing down and creating rituals in our daily lives, we allow the natural release of oxytocin, whether it's spending time with loved ones during meal time, hugging them or engaging in a nightly gratitude practice like journaling, these rituals help us cultivate a sense of calm and contentment. It's also cuddle time with your pets, or laughing through a friend's bad jokes.


The natural mood booster

This hormone is associated with happiness and a sense of satisfaction with the world. A good boost of serotonin is also associated with euphoria - like a "runner's high" after an intense workout. It regulates mood, sleep patterns, and overall happiness levels. 

Adding self-care practices into our daily routines - such as exercising, meditation, journaling or simply gazing at the sun (with protection, of course) or simply spending time in the garden can boost serotonin levels, aiding emotional balance.


Natural painkillers

Did you need an excuse to use aromatherapy or indulge in some dark chocolate… or do both simultaneously? Endorphins are natural painkillers produced by our bodies during physical activity or moments of excitement. 

Engaging in regular exercise or pursuing hobbies that brings joy also stimulates endorphin release and gives an energised and uplifted feeling.

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As we step into a new year, let's embrace the beauty of finding joy in the journey, and not just the destination. Embracing simple, daily rituals can significantly nurture our well-being. Whether it's creating a cosy sanctuary at home or consciously taking moments to appreciate the simple pleasures in life, let the wisdom of how your body functions guide you towards a deliberate, happy and fulfilled existence.

Rituals to keep your balance, through the lens of Thabisa:

1. Rituals of dining with family & friends. 

2. The beauty of working with soil, and gardening. 

3.  Simple pleasures like a seated picnic.

4. Has there been a better ritual than cooking your cake, and eating it too? 

5. Spend time with your pets and treat them.

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