Democritus, a philosopher in Ancient Greece, once said, "Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul." Happiness remains a goal for most everyone, regardless of their place in life, and the scientific community has long been examining what really causes happiness.
A study conducted by researchers at the New York State Psychiatry Institute, Columbia University and the University of South Florida has identified a gene that's responsible for making females happy. They observed the low-expression of a gene called monoamine oxidise A (MAOA) was responsible for women's greater happiness. However, the same connection couldn't be found in men. While women are more prone to develop mood disorders or suffer from anxiety, they're also more likely to experience happiness and on a larger scale.
According to the New Economics Foundation's Happy Planet Index, which compares 151 countries to determine their "happiness," Costa Rica is the happiest nation on the planet. The organization compares ecological sustainability factors as well as life expectancy and other measures of wellbeing.
So is it our environment or is it biological? Can we change it?
What Makes Us Happy
Happiness is defined as the quality or state of being happy and experiencing good fortune, pleasure, contentment and joy. Sounds pretty nice, right? The source of this happiness can be external -- family, friends, work, etc. -- but there are chemical processes going on in our bodies that lead to this happiness as well. Mood disorders can be traced back to the temporal lobe in the brain, the part of the brain also responsible for memory. Serotonin, a hormone and neurotransmitter produced in the brain, has also been linked to changes in mood. Too little serotonin can lead to stress and anxiety.
Natural Mood Boosters
Antidepressants and other prescription medications are a common solution for correcting mood disorders and depression. But if your case doesn't seem as severe or if you want to try a more holistic approach first, there are more natural options out there, with supplements:
B Vitamins -- The B complex vitamins, all eight of them, play a crucial role in cellular metabolism and energy production. These vitamins help to maintain the health and proper function of the central nervous system.
St. John's Wort -- This herb has been used for centuries to help individuals with mild depression, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. You can take it in several forms, including teas, capsules and liquid extracts.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids -- Omega-3s have been shown to support cognitive health and function and are a strongly recommended component of the healthy, balanced diet.
SAMe -- Also known as S-adenosylmethionine, SAMe is a compound that exists in the body and can help improve mood, anxiety and depression, as well as mild aches and pains, when taken in supplement form.
GABA -- Gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is an amino acid naturally occurring in the brain that helps promote a feeling of calm, working as an inhibitory neurotransmitter.
If you're currently being treated for depression or a mood disorder, speak with your doctor before adding these supplements to your routine, or before making changes to your medication schedule. If mental condition worsens, be sure to follow up with your physician.
Other Ways to Boost Your Mood
In addition to natural treatments, there are other lifestyle changes you can make to improve mood:
Find ways to calm stress and unwind everyday. Revisit a favorite hobby and invest time in it regularly.
Communicate your feelings with those you love and trust. Ask for help when you need it.
Find at least one thing everyday to be thankful for and acknowledge it.
Give yourself praise daily in private.
Treat your body well with a healthy diet and exercise and get plenty of sleep.
Happiness is attainable, you just need to invest time in it. Pick up mood-enhancing supplements at eVitamins and make happiness not just a goal, but a priority.
Products you may like:
Now Foods GABA Why you may like this product? One capsule a day of this GABA
supplement from Now can help
ease tension and anxiety,
allowing you to calm yourself
and relax. GABA helps relieve
this stress to promote restful
sleep and a more positive
Solaray Organic St. John's Wort Why you may like this product? St. John's Wort, when taken
daily, can help improve mood,
treating mild cases of
depression as well as anxiety.
This organic supplement from
Solaray provides 900 mg of the
herb per two-capsule serving.
Statements made about specific vitamins, supplements, procedures or other items sold on or through this website have not been evaluated by eVitamins or by the United States Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. As always, please consult with a licensed doctor or physician before starting any diet, exercise or supplement program, before taking any vitamin or medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a problem.