The Science of Happiness & Money Part 3: Oxytocin
The next neurotransmitter on our list in the happiness dialogue is Oxytocin, often known as the love hormone. Oxytocin is released when we are bonding with others of which we care about. This can be your spouse, friends, even petting your dog is shown to release this powerful happiness hormone. It helps us regulate our emotions such as empathy, trust, and pro-social behaviors to name a few.
The three most common releases of Oxytocin happen to be sex, childbirth, and breastfeeding. However, it is generally released when experiencing a positive bonding experience with another person. I like to refer to Oxytocin as the social hormone as you literally need another person to release it. Oxytocin is like me in a sense, I hate being alone, haha.
Oxytocin Lowers Stress
This hormone plays a huge part in lowering stress and anxiety. It is often described as that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you see an old friend or someone who puts a smile on your face. After a long, almost year and a half, I got together with my old cronies a few weeks ago for our first dinner together since pre-Covid. I was looking forward to it for weeks and at that moment where we were all sitting around laughing and sharing libations I 100% was getting that warm and fuzzy feeling of my Oxytocin release.
The nice thing about Oxytocin is it actually doesn’t cost a lot of money to produce, as most of the release comes from positive interactions with people you care about. That said, it doesn’t help my narrative too much about money and happiness, so time to get creative!
Great ways to use your money on Oxytocin
There is a lot of crossover with some of the other happiness hormones such as sleep, meditation, massages, yoga that all go a long way in releasing Oxytocin. However, the key difference is to boost this chemical do most of these things in groups. Pick a friend or two that is willing to join a yoga studio with you and make it a regular thing. Not only will the yoga help, but in addition, you’ll find the bonding time with that special someone is a great accelerator on your Oxytocin release.
Next, a suggestion of Oxytocin release is to do this exercise. Picture your closest friend or family member that does not live locally. Is it your grandkids on the west coast? Or that best friend growing up who moved to the big city? Call them up and coordinate your next vacation not just to some random place, but find a way to incorporate them into your trip. Vacations are great, but the shared experience of doing so with that special person will leave you on an Oxytocin high for weeks.
With other hormones, I’ve mentioned that going to a nice dinner will release happiness hormones. The same holds true with Oxytocin, however, try a twist. Thrown on your favorite record, and cook a meal at home together (I’m digging the new Bruce lp Letters to You). Make a night of it and go a little special or out of the ordinary. Try caviar, or making your own sushi. The act of something new, food, and special bonding will be a great Oxytocin release. For an added bonus make it a regular thing whether it is every Sunday night with the fam or the first Thursday each month with your bestie.
More Oxytocin Suggestions
Random acts of kindness are a great release of Oxytocin. Naturally, they don’t always have to take lots of money to do. However, what a great way to utilize your funds. I love doing this. Just recently I sent two different friends’ random gifts as they hit major life accomplishments. I didn’t want anything in return (except, I suppose, an Oxytocin release I’m learning), and let me tell you it really made me happy seeing how much they appreciated the gesture. For an added bonus, write a nice card with it letting them know how much you care about them. Like my interview with Justin Schenk a few months ago, he suggested every day reach out to one person you haven’t spoken in a while. I’ve tried incorporating it into my life and let me tell you it definitely helps.
Back to sex, as I’d be remiss not to mention it as it is one of the key releases of Oxytocin. I know sometimes easier said than done, but in the words of Nike, “Just Do It”! More importantly, break the monotony and go away for the night or weekend to your special little hotel. Incorporate a nice meal and get romantic would ya! Just try something new and you might find it boosts your happiness that little bit extra.
The science of happiness
There are so many positive effects to purposefully prioritizing your happiness hormones. This past year was a tough one as human interaction was at an all-time low. But now is the time to start making up for the lost time. As my interview with Nick Buettner from Blue Zones suggested, these human interactions not only lead to a happier life, but statistically you’ll live longer and healthier. What an awesome trifecta by simply doing things you love.
Stay tuned for the final part of this 4-part money and happiness blog. Until next week stay wealthy, healthy, and happy.
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