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How to Boost your Happiness Naturally

By Jacob Devaney on Saturday April 16th, 2016

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Achieving a Natural High with Dopamine

Dopamine is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in our brains associated with pleasure, addiction, and reward though it’s value to overall well-being is often overlooked. Depression, fatigue, procrastination, apathy, hopelessness, low libido, and inability to concentrate are signs that you may need a dopamine boost. Luckily there are plenty of natural and healthy ways to get you back in the game without indulging in sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Are you ready to increase your euphoria, bliss, inspiration and lust for life?

Though we all enjoy a little sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll on occasion, we have to remember that with extreme pleasure comes the risk of addiction. The quick-fixes we all seek may give the needed energy spike, but over time they will devolve into unhealthy habits which drain our energy more than they replenish. Sometimes these indulgences combine with unhealthy social interactions which can create painful suffering for ourselves and our loved ones. The quicker the rush, the harsher the come-down, so readers please inhabit your own biology responsibly!

DancingWith extreme pleasure comes the risk of addiction

Since dopamine has a lot to do with reward and pleasure, it helps us to concentrate while keeping our eyes on the prize. It is the great feeling of accomplishment when you reach a goal and small amounts of it will be released when you finish reading this article! This competitive drive for success can help us in business, sports, and also love, so developing a lifestyle that is rich in dopamine-inducing practices is a goal worthy of pursuit.

Quick Fixes

Quick-fix foods include caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. Manufactured crises (always being involved in drama), impulsive shopping, too many video games, porn, and gambling are behaviors that can also produce a quick surge of dopamine. When you are reaching for these substances or activities regularly, it is a sign that you are running on low dopamine reserves and that you should consider modifying your lifestyle.

Caffeine dependenceWhen you are reaching for the quick-fix it is a sign you are running low on dopamine reserves

Diet

Healthy dopamine levels seem to be related to balanced intestinal flora. So make sure to eat some foods that are high in natural probiotics such as yogurt, kefir, and raw sauerkraut and you might just eat your way to enlightenment. A balanced diet that is rich in whole “natural” or unprocessed foods that are high in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, and nuts. Don’t forget that diet is more than just food, it includes the the kind of media you take in, the environment you are surrounded by, the people and mental attitudes that you absorb every day as these things will also affect your mood and dopamine levels. Below is a short list of beneficial foods!

Making sauerkrautEat some foods that are high in natural probiotics, such as raw sauerkraut

Apples: A compound found in apples called “quercetin’ is an antioxidant that studies have shown may not only help in the prevention of cancer but may also play an important role in the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders.
There may be something to that old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away . . .”

Banana: A banana is a good source of tyrosine. Tyrosine is the amino acid neurons turn into norepinephrine and dopamine. Norepinephrine and dopamine are excitatory neurotransmitters that are important in motivation, alertness, concentration and memory.

Banana and appleBanana is a good source of tyrosine

Beets: Betaine, an amino acid naturally present in certain vegetables, particularly beetroot (beets), is an antidepressant of the first order. Betaine acts as a stimulant for the production of SAM-e (S-adenoslmethionine). The body cannot do without SAM-e, which it produces.
SAM-e is directly related to the production of certain hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of well-being and pleasure.

Chicken: Chicken, like eggs, contains complete protein that increases levels of the excitatory neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine. Chicken is also a good source of coenzyme Q10 (Co Q10), which increases the energy generating potential of neurons.

Beet dipBetaine, an amino acid naturally present in certain vegetables, particularly beetroot, is an antidepressant of the first order

Cheese (especially Cottage Cheese): Cheese is a well known protein food . . . Protein provides amino acids, which help produce dopamine and norepinephrine.

Eggs: Research from the University of California, Berkeley suggests that people who suffer from depression have low amount of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in their brains. One natural antidepressant is to increase dopamine by eating protein-rich foods, such as eggs for this purpose, because they are versatile and appeal to some people who choose not to eat meat.

Fish and eggOne natural antidepressant is to increase dopamine by eating protein-rich foods

Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids are found in seafood, especially mackerel, salmon, striped bass, rainbow trout, halibut, tuna, and sardines. These fatty acids may have many jobs in the body, including a possible role in the production of neurotransmitters.

Wheat Germ: Wheat Germ is a good source of Phenylalanine. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid found in the brain and blood plasma that can convert in the body to tyrosine, which in turn is used to synthesize dopamine.

Source: Medhelp.org

HikingExercise and positive actions can have a cumulative effect

Exercise

Many of us spend a whole lot of time at a desk, or driving in a car which means that we are not getting enough exercise. Dopamine is released when we get our blood pumping, this is increased when it is combined with a goal like hiking to the top of a mountain for sun set. Exercise and positive actions can also have a cumulative effect. For example maybe you lose a few pounds and look healthy thus attracting a new romantic interest. Exercise also creates new brain cells, by improving the flow of nutrients to the brain while also producing serotonin, norepinephrine as well as adrenaline. Some yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, bike-riding, or hiking should set you up for many feel-good rewards.

QigongSome Qigong should set you up for many feel-good rewards

Gratitude

This is one of the most interesting aspects of brain chemistry, and it is that we can change our biology with our thoughts and attitude. Gratitude has been noted as a great way to boost dopamine in multiple experiments listed in this great Psychology Today article. Gratitude sets up a virtue-cycle, which encourages us to be grateful for what we have and work towards or seek more things that make us grateful while focusing on things that make you happy. A great practice in gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal that you write in and read each day, you can take it one step further by practicing the feeling of gratitude often throughout the day.

GratitudeGratitude sets up a virtue-cycle

Among things to be grateful for – you have almost completed reading this article. Your reward is that now you have a bunch of ideas to get started on increasing your dopamine-forming habits in a healthy way. Try it for two weeks and see if you like the results. Then with all that added euphoria, drive and inspiration you can ignite a local dopamine movement and save the world (or maybe just share this article with your friends).

Trust Your Gut and Follow Nature’s Example

We can’t always explain or rationalise why certain people or activities make us feel a certain way, but if we give ourselves the opportunity to genuinely tune in, we can usually get a sense for whether something or someone is having a life force giving or draining influence on our energy.

Completed articleGet started on increasing your dopamine-forming habits in a healthy way

Once we know this, it becomes a conscious decision how we respond. Sometimes we may choose to pour our energy into something that seems to temporarily drain us, in order to help initiate, cause a shift or breakthrough. Sometimes we are one simple action or conversation away from moving something from Life Force Draining to Life Force Giving. And sometimes that action may be to withdraw our energy completely from a situation in order to grow, evolve and maintain integrity with who we truly came here to be. When in doubt, nature is probably our greatest teacher in the realms of energy and Life Force management. Animals exclusively trust their “feel” and instincts to find food and avoid threatening situations. Plants continually store and draw energy from the atmosphere around them and grow in the direction of the most Life Giving elements. They don’t question or try to justify staying in Life Force Draining situations. They simply move, lean, seek and grow continually in the direction of that which is supporting and sustaining the balance of life.

How balanced is your Life Force right now? What simple steps could you take today to shift or release that which is not serving the balance and begin more powerfully cultivating positive, good-feeling Life Force on all levels, in all areas of your existence?

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Jacob Devaney

Founder and director of Culture Collective, creative activist, musician, and producer.

 

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