The Science of Happiness & Money Part 4: Serotonin
At last, we have made it to the fourth and final hormone that affects happiness, serotonin. This fun little hormone is critical in our ability to regulate our mood, well-being, optimism, satisfaction, and you guessed it happiness. Serotonin is a common ingredient in SSRI medications that are used for depression medication.
Naturally, the question here is: without taking medications, how can one go about increasing their serotonin levels? Well, lucky for you, that is the topic of the day! How can we structure our lives, and our finances to increase this critical happiness hormone?
Ways to Increase Serotonin
There are plenty of overlapping methods with the other three happiness hormones yet again. That said, I’ll focus today on my favorite ones, and ways to structure our lives, along with finances, to maximize one’s serotonin release.
The first method I’ll focus on today is psychotherapy. I know this is taboo for many of us, as in a way it suggests something is wrong mentally. However, that is simply not the case. Rather, speaking with a therapist is a great way to regulate one’s mood, and thus raise one’s serotonin levels. A good therapist can help you stay more balanced and be a great stress reliever. Pro-tip for you: it is highly encouraged, if seeking out a therapist, to interview a handful of them. This is a very intimate relationship and thus, you want to make sure you find the right person that both you feel comfortable speaking with and that you feel will jive with your personality to give constructive feedback. Financially, many of them take insurance, although certainly not all of them. That said, if it improves your happiness and makes you a better person, what do you have to lose?
Nature and Travel
Nature and sunlight are great ways to release serotonin. It is why most of us get those wintertime blues, as we are deprived of bright lights and fresh air. Of course, there are free ways to go about this like go to your backyard for 15 minutes every day (minimum amount of time recommended to release serotonin). That said, there are many ways to use our finances to encourage more of this activity. For instance, join one of the many nature preserves around here like Longwood Gardens (which I personally love). Or you can get one of the State Park passes for relatively little and have free reign of all the natural beauty in your area. As an added bonus do these activities with friends and loved ones to release many of these happy hormones.
Staying on the sunlight theme is those Winter get-a-ways, that personally, I am a big fan of. Actually, I just booked my first vacation, thanks Covid, in almost 2 years for this coming Winter. I plan to get the hell out of dodge for a week and trade it in for some Caribbean sunlight. Any way I can convince you it is a work research trip? There are a lot of great deals to be had and ways to not break the bank financially on that winter get-a-way, but find what makes you happy and go do it.
Supplements and Massage
Supplements can be a great resource in boosting one’s Serotonin level. It is often found in supplements like 5-HTP, and vitamin D to name a few. Of course, consult with your primary care physician to see what supplements he/she recommends to boost those Serotonin levels. You can easily sign up on Amazon for a subscription to save a few extra dollars.
Massages, boy do I love massages, like really, really like them. I’ve trained my 6-year-old middle child (Isabella) to perform child labor by massaging her daddy using her “magic bows” (really just jabbing me with her elbows). Assuming you don’t have a 6-year-old daughter on your payroll find a massage therapist and do a regularly scheduled session. There are tons of great ones out there and well worth every last penny.
The last one for today is going to be a freebie. My interview with Kim Strobel, the happiness coach, revealed this little trick for happiness and serotonin release. Spend 2 minutes every day writing down 3 things you are grateful for. Now, these have to be three new things every day but don’t have to be earth-shattering either as they can be small little things you appreciate. For instance, it could be your favorite flower blooming, or that the FedEx driver just delivered a few bottles of Mayacamas 2011 library wine to your front door (my, that seems specific Andrew). The key is to make it a habit and take the time each day to dedicate to it. What you should find is your mood increases and thus so does your Serotonin levels.
And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make
Oh, John and Paul how I love thee. Fun fact: that little lyric was the last line, on the last album the Beatles ever released. Heavy stuff, right? And oh, so fitting. Now my 4-part blog probably is a slight notch below the entire Beatles library, and thus may not elicit the same emotional response. However, I do hope you found it entertaining and impactful.
There are many ways we can utilize (and not utilize) our finances to maximize our happiness. I know I spend a lot of time talking about it, and for good measure. I truly believe one of our main jobs as financial partners is to encourage and support you in living your best lives. The first step in that is educating and informing of what those fancy people much smarter than I (scientists and doctors) have researched and determined help promote happiness. Now the hard work has begun. Time for you to take it all in and think about how you want to arrange both your life and your finances to enhance your overall well-being and happiness. Because in the end, isn’t that what you want to both take and make? Thanks, John and Paul, and thank all of you for being open-minded on this thought-provoking topic. Hope you can at least incorporate something you read into your lives as your happiness is our life’s work.
As always stay wealthy, healthy, and most importantly happy.