International Happiness Day: Increase in dopamine level brings happiness

- March 20, 2024
| By : Stuti Nanda |

Psychologist Adishree Khandelwal reveals the secret of happiness, calling people to pick habits that can boost dopamine, which reduces stress and anxiety  

School girls talking in groups in a classroom during break. Photo: Getty

On the International Happiness Day, which falls on March 20, it would only be apt to remind ourselves of Buddha’s quote, “There is no path to Happiness. Happiness is the path.”

Staying happy is not only about putting a smile on your face. It also includes the hidden mental and emotional feelings.

“Happiness is a culmination of joy, contentment, satisfaction and a feeling of fulfilment put together,” says psychologist Adishree Khandelwal.

The happy hormone, ‘dopamine’ is known to reduce stress and anxiety. It is produced by anything and everything that makes us happy, from buying a chocolate to shopping in our favourite store, to a simple walk in the park or catching up with friends. 

Adishree adds, “Usually whole foods, fruits, nuts and protein rich foods are known to increase dopamine production.” 

They should, therefore, be consumed as they can uplift one’s mood within seconds. Dark chocolate is a great alternative for the same. 

The Delhi-based psychologist highlights the importance of dopamine saying, “When dopamine is released in large amounts, it creates feelings of pleasure and reward, which urge and motivate you to repeat a specific behaviour.” 

She also emphasised on how everyone has a different definition of happiness, saying, “For some, it may be when you are at peace and for others, it may be meeting friends and getting unconditional love from other people. You can get happiness with small changes in your daily routine. When you try to make positive habits part of your life, you tend to be happier. Happiness is always achieved and obtained.”

She talked about the practices one can follow in order to stay happy. 

“I often advise my clients to even make digital versions of their vision boards which they can carry all the time and set as their desktop/phone wallpapers. Another hands-on exercise could be sensory awareness activities which involve engaging with, and paying attention to the current sensory information. These mindful practices nurture the ability to bring sensory experiences to the forefront of consciousness. To pause and smell the roses, hear the sound of a flowing river, appreciate the view of a dramatic landscape, or even reading a good book, can all be immensely gratifying and comforting.” 

She concluded by stating some of the activities and practices she has inculcated with time, which have helped her towards the path of staying mentally healthy. 

“I consciously say thank you many times a day to maintain that feeling of gratitude. Another thing that I try to inculcate is to set a time limit for my social media exposure. Lastly, I don’t run away from the negative feelings. I acknowledge them every single time. I allow them to pass, instead of suppressing them which allows for a healthy vent. Apart from this, indulging in a hobby, going for a walk and returning back to society in some way, will definitely ensure feelings of fulfilment.”