The Quartet of Happiness

27 August, 2020
We’ve all been happy at one point or another, but do you know what the quartet of happiness is? We're going to introduce you to the neurotransmitters that can take that feeling of happiness to the next level.
 

The ability to unleash the positive effects of serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins (SDOE) is sometimes called the “quartet of happiness,” since it gives us a pleasant feeling of warmth. Each person can unleash their happiness through specific behaviors because happiness is a subjective feeling.

The most curious thing about the quartet of happiness is that it has nothing to do with the amount of money you have, your social status, or your job. Each person can be happy by their own means in a simple way, as we’ll explain later.

Find out more in this article!

The role of each substance in the quartet of happiness

The substances that make up the quartet of happiness interact and have their particular effects. The neurotransmitters serotonin, as well as dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins, are all part of a biological formula that creates a sensation of well-being.

Serotonin

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, food intake, and certain cognitive processes. When the proportion of serotonin in your nervous system is balanced, you feel happy, satisfied, and see the positive side of things.

However, when serotonin is missing, it can cause depression or sadness, lack of motivation, lack of energy, and pessimism. Therefore, it’s essential to maintain adequate serotonin levels for neurons.

A woman on the phone.
The neurotransmitter serotonin influences people’s moods depending on their concentration.
 

Dopamine

This is another important neurotransmitter for our brain, as it causes pleasant sensations. It acts when we get something we want, such as a goal, to eat something we like or to buy what we wanted for a long time.

Like serotonin, it has motivational factors, only in a much more direct way. People with low dopamine find it more difficult too feel pleasure and feel discouraged.

Dopamine is widely studied in patients with depression, as its inadequate levels interfere with the process of recovering from the depressive situation. Some medications, quite rightly, inhibit the re-uptake of the neurotransmitter to increase it in the body.

Continue reading:  Daily stress can cause depression

Oxytocin

This hormone is released through social contact. For example, we may feel it with our partner, friends, and family, or a mother with her young child.

It’s known as the hormone of emotional bonds. It’s very important since it makes interaction with others pleasant. Consequently, depriving people of social contact can prevent the secretion of oxytocin with a consequential deficit.

Endorphins

Endorphins are endogenous opioids that the human body produces, and not from external factors. One of their functions is to act as a natural painkiller.

Their action unbinds a kind of pleasant feeling that can mask physical pain. We can feel the effects of endorphins after intense sport, for example. Who hasn’t felt that nice feeling in the body after a workout?

 
A woman running.
Exercise releases endorphins that mask pain and produce a feeling of well-being.

Discover more: The impact of exercise on the brain

Can you increase the quartet of happiness naturally?

The answer is a resounding yes. Happiness is within reach, to a large extent. It’s our responsibility, no matter what’s happening around us. We can take the following steps to stimulate neurotransmitters:

  • Exposure to sunlight
  • Stroll through nice places
  • Think about future goals and happy memories
  • Exercise

Dopamine, specifically, increases when we celebrate our achievements. We can divide a great final goal into small goals, to celebrate each time we take a successful step.

With oxytocin, we have to think and act around social relationships to stimulate it. We need to get as much physical contact as possible, through hugs for example. Sexual intercourse naturally increases oxytocin levels and is an excellent form of contact.

Finally, for endorphins, an ally is a sport. We’re not talking about extreme exercise, but about regularity and training that causes us pleasure because of the mere fact of movement. Relaxation and meditation techniques are also useful in guiding us to happiness.

 

Unleashing the quartet of happiness

In conclusion, unleashing the quartet of happiness is in your hands. You can implement some of the activities we’ve mentioned and you’ll notice the benefits of these activities for your physical and emotional well-being.

Changes don’t happen overnight. However, the important thing is to get on track and make happiness a regular part of your life.

 

  • Breuning, L. G. (2012). Meet your happy chemicals. System Integrity Press.
  • Salamone, J. D., & Correa, M. (2012). The mysterious motivational functions of mesolimbic dopamine. Neuron76(3), 470-485.
  • Young, S. N. (2007). How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience: JPN32(6), 394.
  • Goodale, Elizabeth P. “El papel de la norepinefrina y de la dopamina en la depresión.” Revista de Toxicomanías 50 (2007): 19-22.