How To Live More Happily

Kevin Chapman from the Physical Intelligence Institute who was  on episode 108 of the Access to Inspiration podcast, explains how to use physical intelligence techniques to live and work more effectively.

Many of us walk around feeling unhappy without realising that we can significantly influence how happy we feel. We have control of our happiness because we can manage the levels of certain chemicals in our brains and bodies.

Physical Intelligence is the ability to actively manage the levels of certain key chemicals (hormones and neurotransmitters) racing through our bloodstream and nervous system) so that we can stress less, achieve more and live more happily. We can do this by:

  • Understanding the neurochemistry
  • Using our body in specific ways
  • Changing the quality of our thoughts
  • Transforming our emotions

Chemicals for Happiness

Serotonin, Oxytocin and Dopamine are the top three chemicals for happiness.

Three women smiling and looking at a document

Serotonin

Serotonin influences our levels of happiness, status and feelings of satisfaction and well-being. With enough serotonin, we believe that we are enough, have enough. We feel naturally balanced, empowered and can take responsibility for our role in society. Serotonin is released by independent neurons in the gut as well as in the brain. With high serotonin levels we can live without anxiety, feeling content and balanced. The signature feeling of serotonin is happiness.

Boost serotonin by:

  • Smiling at ourselves in the mirror and others
  • Meditating
  • Twisting and stretching the torso and abdominal area of the body daily
  • Soaking up sunshine
  • Getting good quality sleep
  • Eating bananas and high quality chocolate
  • Thinking positive thoughts
  • Practicing tai chi or any activity where you move in a fluid way
  • Jumping up and down and/or shaking out your limbs and body
  • Getting a good night’s sleep – regularly
  • Taking a holiday
  • Knowing your own value and self-worth
  • Using open, expansive posture
  • Being fully present
  • Learning about what undermines or triggers you and working therapeutically to overcome negative beliefs

Oxytocin

Oxytocin is our social bonding and trust chemical. It comes from feeling part of a group – our “tribe,” feeling loved, respected and cared for, and giving the same to others. Oxytocin is released by independent neurons in the heart as well as in the brain. With high oxytocin levels we feel supported by others, safe and with a sense of belonging. Too little, and we may feel isolated; we might not build professional relationships or know how to use our networks for support. We need to be able to boost our own levels of oxytocin. The signature feeling of oxytocin is belonging.

Boost oxytocin by:

  • Sending a thank you email or text
  • Having a heart to heart conversation
  • Empathising with others
  • Bringing the team together to celebrate or commiserate
  • Holding hands or hugging
  • Committing acts of kindness
  • Talking to strangers (e.g. at a networking event)
  • Bringing people together for a party
  • Being honest
  • Using open arm and hand gestures
  • Maintaining stable, non-threatening eye contact with people
  • Keeping your promises
  • Doing stretches that open the chest and heart area
  • Opening your arms wide
  • Using warm vocal resonance
  • Speaking words of encouragement
  • Stroking a dog
  • Getting a massage
  • Telling someone you love them
  • Spending time with loves ones
  • Reaching out when someone is grieving
  • Supporting a cause important to you or joining a club
  • Dancing in the same rhythm as someone

Dopamine

Dopamine can give us feelings of intense pleasure or reward from enjoyable activities or pursuits that have value for you. With a healthy dopaminergic system we can sustain effort through arduous periods of delayed gratification and can work hard and think creatively to realise our dreams. The signature feelings of dopamine are pleasure and need.

Boost dopamine by:

  • Taking pleasure in the simple things
  • Walking in the countryside
  • Looking at a wonderful view
  • Visualising a positive future
  • Tasting good food and drink rather than gulping it down
  • Being playful, laughing
  • Being flexible and creative
  • Seeing something you want and being determined to achieve it
  • Cooking and serving a delicious meal
  • Deciding on a goal and the steps you need to take to achieve it
  • Celebrating successes
  • Enjoying the simple things (e.g., the feeling of getting into a warm bed at night)
  • Enjoying the exhilaration that follows a good workout
  • Gardening and growing things
  • Arranging flowers in a vase
  • Looking at art
  • Dancing at a night club
  • Rewarding yourself after completing your work (e.g., with an episode of your favourite series or chapter in a book)
  • Listening to music
  • Watching a good movie,
  • Solving a difficult problem
  • Finishing the cross word puzzle
  • Reaching the next level of your favourite computer game
  • Passing your exams

When we are happy, we can ‘bank’  happiness chemicals by augmenting the feeling, allowing ourselves to feel that emotion without reserve, creating a powerful memory of feeling good by increasing the intensity of this positive emotion. When we are sad, angry, or frustrated we can use these techniques to process negative emotions efficiently and change the quality of our thoughts.