The Science of Happiness & Money Part 2: Endorphins
Last week we focused on the powerful chemical Dopamine, and how we can use our finances to help create more of it. Today, I am going to focus on probably the most commonly known happiness chemical, endorphins. Endorphins are chemical messengers released from the body that relieve stress and pain along with helping you experience pleasure. Endorphins are often considered a natural pain reliever. Essentially, they produce a similar effect to taking an Opioid and why they are prescribed after surgery.
Most commonly, we identify endorphins with exercise. It is that gloomy feeling before we work out, just to suck it up and drudge through a workout only to come out of it feeling great. As a matter of fact, I saw this play out the other day with my daughter who was feeling blue. She didn’t want to go to her lacrosse practice. I encouraged her to go because of the endorphin rush and she came home both exhausted and in much better spirits.
If we can utilize our money, finance, and lifestyle to optimize endorphin release it will go a long way to a happier, less stressful, and more pleasurable life. That said, let’s take a few moments to discuss the money and finance side of things a bit as we can really utilize our resources to make us happier!
The first and obvious way to release endorphins is exercise. Research says 30 minutes is the magic number. Now it costs very little, to no money, to get your butt off that couch and go for a walk or a run. However, sometimes we need a little more motivation (like me). What if you used your money to join a fun exercise class or hired a personal trainer that you’ve always dreaded?
Or here is an idea I am a big fan of, get a Peloton tread or bike like I have and join the community (my handle is florider318 – friend me, I’d love it). They aren’t “cheap” but I’ve found they are well worth it and everyone I’ve encouraged to get one LOVES IT. That said, whatever it takes to get you exercising more regularly. Find a way to reprioritize your finances to make sure dollars are being allocated to your exercise regime. And yes, this can include joining that golf club you’ve always wanted as long as you walk the course not ride!
Next, the suggestion goes into the deep, dark world of holistic medicine. Specifically, I am referring to the ancient practice of acupuncture, along with essential oils. Studies suggest that acupuncture and the practice of inserting the needles into one’s bodies is an instant release of endorphins. Not many people can explain how acupuncture actually works, but I’ve tried it myself and shockingly it does. Also doing aromatherapy with oils such as lavender and other essential oils is linked to endorphin release.
Live, Laugh, Love! Laughing, sex, wine, and dark chocolate are all great ways to release endorphins while reducing stress. Now, I am no Casanova, but may I suggest you don’t do all these at the same time. Why not set aside time each week for a special evening with that special loved one. Go grab a nice bottle of wine and have a romantic evening, you even have an excuse to top it off with dark chocolate! Make sure to allocate in your budget this critical necessity in the release of endorphins. It is not only a great way to focus on the one you love, but it is proven to make us happier!
Be philanthropic. I’m always amazed at how generous so many of our clients are with their time and money. Well, apparently it is no secret that it makes us feel better to give than receive. The dirty little secret here is: helping others actually releases endorphins. Hopefully, it isn’t a discouragement to you that there is a chemical reason it feels so good. The reality is you get the double benefit when you donate – of making others feel good and increasing your own happiness. Now you don’t have to necessarily tithe to get this feeling, just plan to give what you can and reap the many rewards.
Other non-financial means of increasing one’s endorphins are spending time with friends, eating spicy foods, and yet again meditation. I’d be remiss to leave these out, just because they don’t fit with my theme of money and happiness.
End-Stress with End-Dorphins
Endorphins are a great way to reduce anxiety, stress, depression, and pain. They also help us regulate pain, improve our immune system, and modulate our appetite. Simply put they are a critical chemical that we can easily release daily that will improve our overall sense of well-being and happiness. When budgeting and thinking about how to utilize your hard-earned money, try finding ways to kill two birds with one stone and use your money for your betterment.
Stay tuned until next week where we talk about that third critical happiness chemical and how we can utilize our finances to optimize it. As always stay wealthy, healthy, and happy!