The 5 Happiness Chemicals

Mar 9, 2024

This week, we’re talking about the science of "happiness chemicals," and how we can optimize them to boost our mood, productivity, and motivation.

There are lots of different molecules floating around our bodies, but the ones we'll be talking about today are all neurotransmitters (which just means that they allow our neurons to communicate with each other!) Each molecule we'll discuss plays a pivotal role in shaping our emotional experiences and overall well-being.

By gaining insight into how these neurotransmitters function and interact, we can unlock powerful and practical strategies for enhancing our mood, reducing stress, and cultivating a more fulfilling life

Buckle up, and let's take a tour inside of our brains! 🚌 🧠


Serotonin is known as the mood stabilizer and happiness booster. It plays a key role in body functions such as regulating mood, sleep, digestion, and more.

When serotonin is at healthy levels, you feel more focused, emotionally-regulated, and calmer. 

Here are three ways to boost your Serotonin:

🌞 Sunlight — Even just 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight exposure each day can boost your serotonin levels.

👟 Exercise — Regular exercise not only increases serotonin production but also enhances the sensitivity of serotonin receptors in the brain, which amplifies its positive effects. 

🥙 Food — Eating more tryptophan-containing foods can increase serotonin, as this is the amino acid that serotonin is made from. You've probably heard about tryptophan from Thanksgiving, because turkey has a lot of it!

P.S. Many people think that tryptophan makes you sleepy by itself, but scientists think it’s actually the combination of two things that makes you sleepy: tryptophan, which makes you happy and relaxed, and eating a bunch of carbs, which causes your blood sugar to rise quickly.


Dopamine, also known as the reward chemical!

Dopamine is organically released from things like praise, positive outcomes, winning, and food.

While there are plenty of sources of dopamine out there, not all come with the same benefits. For example, too much screen time, social media scrolling, and overworking all release dopamine 😬

Remember to find balance and moderation wherever you get your dopamine fix!

Here are three healthy ways to boost your Dopamine:

Finishing a task or project you started — Completing tasks and achieving goals can stimulate the brain and release dopamine.

🎶 Listening to your favorite song or feel-good music — Music can release dopamine and stimulate pleasure centers in the brain.

🙏🏽 Practicing gratitude for the little wins in life — This can help reduce stress and increase feelings of well-being, releasing dopamine.


Endorphins act as natural pain relievers and can induce feelings of euphoria and well-being, contributing to pleasurable experiences. Endorphins are also involved in regulating mood, reducing stress and anxiety, and promoting relaxation.

Ever experienced runner’s high or a feeling of euphoria after a workout? That’s those endorphins kicking in! 

Probably the most well-known way to boost endorphins is through exercise. Laughing is also a big one. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins and leads to feelings of happiness and relaxation.

Are you a creative person who loves art, design, or gardening? Research shows that getting your creative juices flowing is also an excellent source of endorphins. 

Here are three ways to boost your Endorphins:

🏋️ Exercise — a powerful way to stimulate the release of endorphins, often resulting in a "runner's high" or feelings of elation.

😂 Laughing — triggers endorphins in the brain, leading to feelings of euphoria and happiness. Watching a funny movie or spending time with friends can boost endorphin levels.

🎨 Creative activities — stimulate the production of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals.


Oxytocin is often referred to as the "love hormone" or "bonding hormone" because it plays a crucial role in social bonding, trust, and emotional connection.

Beyond emotional benefits, oxytocin has been associated with various physical health advantages, such as reduced blood pressure, improved heart health, and enhanced immune function.

Physical touch, positive social interactions, and acts of kindness towards others can all release ocytocin.

Here are three ways to boost your Oxytocin levels:

💗 Hugging someone you care about — stimulates the release of oxytocin, which fosters feelings of trust, connection, and bonding.

🐕 Interacting with animals — through pet therapy, or even just petting a dog or cat, can stimulate oxytocin production and induce feelings of relaxation and well-being, too! All of our pet parents know that already, though 😸 🐶

🤝 Engaging in acts of kindness — can boost oxytocin production and leave you feeling happier and more fulfilled.


Our fifth and final happiness chemical to close out this week’s theme — GABA, the anxiety buster! This is one that many people haven’t heard of, but it is so important.

GABA, which stands for Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, is known for producing a calming effect. It’s thought to play a major role in controlling hyperactivity associated with anxiety, stress, and fear.

Deep breathing or breathwork, spending time in nature, and consuming foods rich in nutrients that support GABA (such as green tea), can help trigger GABA release and reduce stress and anxiety levels.

Here are four ways to boost your GABA levels:

🍵 Drink tea — Green tea, white tea, and oolong tea naturally have high amounts of GABA.

🧘 Yoga or mindful stretching — can naturally increase GABA activity and studies have reported improved mood and decreased anxiety among participants.

🌬️ Meditation and deep breathing — can increase the production of GABA in your brain, as well as boost its activity.

🏞️ Spending time in nature — has been shown to enhance GABA activity, leading to a sense of calm and tranquility. Try going for a short walk or sitting by a body of water (if you aren't close to the ocean, look for a pond!)

My final thoughts

The body is magical! We hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about the powerful neurotransmitters that are inside each of us 🔎 🧠

By gaining insight into how these neurotransmitters function and interact, you now have a set of practical tools you can use to fine-tune your inner world, enhance your mood, and cultivate a more fulfilling life

See you in some of the sessions this week!

— Farah