There are tons of articles in magazines and online that give you, “31 ways to get happy – for free!” or “10 ways to find more pleasure every day” or “20 simple ways to get happy.” You go to read them, hoping that they will give you a quick solution to fix your depression. You start reading and you see that one of the top 10 suggestions to getting happy is… HUMMING??! You think, “Are you kidding me?! I’m depressed. I’m looking for serious solutions to help me get out of bed! I want to know how to get to the bottom of why I’m not happy and you give me I should be humming more?!”
There are lists and lists and lists of top 10s and 101 suggestions to get happy, stay happy, learn how to be happier, how to be happy when you’re supposed to be sad, how to be happier in life, how to be happier day by day, but they can often be very annoying and seem not to help at all. Why?
You already know what you need to do to be happy.
If you are living in the United States, since you were in grade school you have been told that doing exercise is good for you, drinking water is better than soda, being proactive will help you feel more productive. Put two and two together and you know that if you spent two seconds doing any one of these things it would
1) Give you something to do, which makes you feel busy.
2) Make you healthier, which give you endorphins.
3) You would accomplish goals and feel on top of your game.
So why don’t we do these things? Why do we continually need these “Top 10” lists to tell us superficial activities that we already know we should be doing to help us become happy?
Here’s one answer to that question: unless we know the reasons why we should do something and how it contributes to fixing our overall blah feeling about life, the healthy habits that help give nutrients to the root problem of our depression will never become a part of our daily lives, actions, rituals, or habits.
What if we found the root reason behind our depression and unhappiness? Would we be more likely to implement these “happiness tips” in our lives if we knew what they did to cure the root problem?
If you recently quit using drugs, then the topics of depression and why you get depressed after you stop using drugs should be heavy on your mind. In research on drugs, addiction, and different rehab options, there has been an obsession with the chemical that these three things revolve around: dopamine.
Dopamine is what causes the euphoria from taking drugs. It is also what is depleted from an addict’s brain because of taking drugs. This depletion of dopamine often is one of the reasons/sources/roots of the user’s depression.
Knowing this, if we want to stop looking at fixing our problems on the surface and get more in depth understanding of why we feel the way we do, dopamine is a perfect example of something that could be looked into to get a stronger understanding of why you are depressed.
1.) Dopamine is one of the main chemicals that target the pleasure/reward part of your brain.
2.) As dopamine increases, it affects everything from how you feel pleasure, happiness, motivation, contentedness, how you learn, memory, etc.
3.) Certain activities naturally and artificially increase or decrease dopamine levels in our brain.
4.) There is a sweet spot of dopamine. Too much dopamine is bad. Too little dopamine is bad too.
5.) Dopamine helps you detect anything that is unusual or otherwise demands your attention.
6.) Dopamine gives you drive and motivation to survive.
7.) Dopamine is released when a person is engaged in acts of aggression.
These are not all of the characteristics of dopamine by far. However, what this list quickly shows is that, when looking at a root or basis of a problem - like depression – by looking at why this depression could happen – lack of dopamine – you may be able to make more connections about why the “Top 10 ways to be happier” articles list activities like humming. For depression, for example, it is because these activities will help fix the problem by possibly increasing your dopamine.
1.) Get educated about why you’re depressed. Knowledge is power.
2.) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Helps you find resolutions to solve your problems.
3.) Have a balanced, healthy diet. Particularly foods that increase the amino acid, tyrosine (which helps spark dopamine), like: almonds, avocados, bananas, lima beans, dairy products, dark chocolate, pumpkin & sesame seeds
4.) Reduce consumption of artificial sugar, caffeine, and saturated fat.
6.) Exercise, lots of it!
7.) Hang out with non-drug using friends & family: being around positive people that are active can give you motivation.
8.) Go to support groups: community brings surges of dopamine that make you feel comforted.
10.) Listening to music you enjoy. Clinically proven to increase dopamine!