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The Science of Happiness June 20, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Mindfulness.
37 comments

Eeyore-SittingIn  Zen and the Art of Happiness, Chris Prentiss explains why gloomy thoughts create a body that, at the cellular level, is more able to feel gloominess than joyfulness:

Each cell in our body communicates with our brain via receptor molecules located on its surface.

Cells are defined by which receptors are on its surface and whether those receptors are occupied by ligands or not.

Receptors and ligands are “information molecules” used to communicate across systems such as the endocrine, neurological, gastrointestinal, and even the immune system.  Ligands come in 3 types (neurotransmitters, steroids, and peptides).  Up to 95% of ligands may be peptides, which govern emotions.

The peptides produced in the hypothalamus gland in the brain duplicate emotions we experience ~> anger, hate, sadness, frustration, enthusiasm, happiness, and joy.

These peptides are channeled to the pituitary gland and the bloodstream, where they visit all 20-30 trillion cells in the body.

After cruising around the bloodstream, peptides dock on the millions of receptors on a cell’s surface.  There, they influence our behavior, activity levels, and mood.

That’s right . . . these teeny tiny molecular bits affect our mood.  With that kind of clout, it’s no wonder that peptides have their very own science journal.

We rely on cell division for growth, repair, and replacement of worn out cells.  An estimated 300,000,000 cell divisions occur every minute of every day.

New cells are created according to what you think and feel.  Cells created when someone is “depressed” will have more receptors for depression and fewer receptors to receive feel-good peptides.

As a result of this mechanism, we are either spiraling upwards into greater and greater happiness or downwards into greater and greater sadness, anger, fear, depression, frustration, etc.

Scruffy-CatIf we feel depressed for an hour, we produce eighteen billion new cells that have receptors calling out for depressed type peptides.

It’s as if the trillions and trillions of receptors are all cupping little hands around megaphones while shouting, “Send us more depression!”

That’s why thinking gloomy thoughts creates a body that is more able to feel gloominess than joyfulness.

The more we engage in any type of emotion or behavior, the greater our desire for it becomes ~> that’s true for depression, anger, and happiness.

We create ourselves by what we think and feel.  Once we start to manage our thoughts, our personal belief system changes and we begin to create a body that is more able to feel happiness.

Tigger-PogoWe can use our emotions and thoughts to create a body that’s more receptive to feel-good states, with a better functioning immune system.

By staying in the present moment, and choosing happiness right now, we increase our level of happiness tomorrow.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  Researchers Find Link Between Peptide and Happiness  (Psych Central) * Become Susceptible to Happiness (Hindu Business Line)