Happy people are healthier. They have lower rates of cardiovascular issues, stronger immune systems, heal faster after injuries, and they are more likely to eat healthy and live longer.<1>
And happiness isn’t just about you. Happy people are generally more productive at work, have better relationships with others, volunteer more, they’re more likely to donate to charity, and they’re even more creative problem solvers.
This guide will discuss how nootropics for happiness can improve your mood and enhance overall brain health for optimal performance in any situation.
What is Happiness?
Personal definitions of happiness may differ, but scientists generally agree that how happy you are depends mostly on how satisfied you are with your life on a daily basis.
In order to understand a specific feeling such as happiness, we need to understand what emotion is. According to behavioral neurobiologist Antonio Damasio:
“Emotion is the execution of a complex program of actions.”
Essentially, emotion comes down to movement, whether it’s a facial expression, physical response to stimuli, or movement in the endocrine system.
Emotional regulation depends on a very well orchestrated set of alterations in the body that make life more survivable by taking advantage of a combination of natural impulses and opportunity.
We all have an emotional program that is built into our genomes which is modified by our individual experiences. We have different variations on the pattern, but our experience of joy is generally quite similar.
The feeling of happiness is a portrayal of what is going on in the emotional program. You don’t necessarily feel an emotion or are even aware of it. The feeling of happiness operates from a different part of the brain than emotion.
Happiness and the Brain
Like fear, happiness is an automated, subconscious response related to our survival instinct. Survival instincts are largely activated in the limbic system. The hippocampus in the limbic system plays a major role in processing emotion and memory and developing that into feelings.
Feelings operate from a collection of structures in the brain stem and the cerebral cortex, including the insular cortex. The insular cortex has dense connections to the fronto-limbic system, an area linked to Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) when unregulated.
Many mood-related regions operate from deep within the most primordial part of the brain. The limbic system is the oldest part of the human brain, and its emotional functions are central to human evolution.
Happy feelings reward us for pursuing survival-related activities like eating or sex.
Those feelings are stored in memory, which we can use later for constructing a view of the world that we can use in future planning.
- A study at the University of Washington discovered the hippocampus had atrophied in 10 patients diagnosed with clinical depression. And hippocampal function had deteriorated further the longer they had been depressed.<3>
As one of the brain’s mood mechanisms, the hippocampus releases acetylcholine (ACh), a product of choline that stimulates astrocytes – glial cells that help regulate neurotransmitters including serotonin. Both serotonin and acetylcholine are thought to have a big impact on healthy mood regulation.<4><5>
Secrets to Happiness Part 1
Eating can make us happy. Comfort food reminds us of childhood memories or happy times. Eating those same foods triggers our memories and lifts our mood. Comfort food can help make us happier on a psychological level, but other foods contain chemicals that physiologically affect the brain.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter mostly known for its link to happiness. It also regulates pain and sleep. Foods like turkey, spinach and bananas aid in serotonin production, making you feel happier.
The insula is a paralimbic cortex that spans both brain hemispheres from deep within the cerebral cortex, in the lateral sulcus – also called the Sylvian fissure. This fissure separates the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes.
The insular cortex is strongly involved in emotional processing, and it has been implicated as an integration center for mood-related sensory and interoceptive information like auditory processing and taste reception.<6>
The brainstem is an area at the very back and bottom of the brain that links the brain with the peripheral nervous system through the spinal cord. It is divided into the pons, medulla oblongata, and midbrain.
The pons contains neurons that process sensory stimuli like facial expression, taste, hearing, posture, and facial sensation. Smiling causes the pons to release endorphins that combat stress-inducing chemicals like adrenaline. In fact, smiling alone can make you feel happier.
- In one research trial, researchers had participants adopt either a fake smile, a neutral expression, or a genuine smile. Smiling, fake or not, resulted in lower heart rate and reduced stress levels.<7>
Secrets to Happiness Part 2
Regular exercise is linked to improved mental health. Even a little exercise each day releases endorphins. Studies show exercise is as effective as antidepressant medications for improving mood.<8>
Exercising gives you more energy. Mitochondria in your cells gives the body energy. The harder you work, the harder they do too.
Brain Benefits of Purpose
Living with a sense of purpose can make you happier. It can give you a sense of well-being and a zest for life. The positive effects of a purposeful life extend to more than just your mood, however.
A sense of meaning can actually protect your brain. Supplementing yours with nootropics for happiness could give you the mood boost you need to fulfill your purpose with more flow and fewer lows.
One study found that people with a strong sense of purpose were 44 percent less likely to suffer major brain tissue damage later in life.<9>
You can find purpose in your own life through many ways:
- Fulfilling career – contributing work you find meaningful can make you more motivated and engaged with your job
- Raising children – parents often claim they consider parenting the most rewarding thing they have ever done
- Spirituality and religion – when you belong to a group of like-minded believers you can find meaning along with a built-in social network
- Value-aligned goals – being committed to something outside yourself like friends, family, or community can make your life feel more purposeful
Avoid these three things that will kill your happiness in the long run:
- Comparing yourself with others
- Lack of friendships
- Holding on to resentment
Active ways to enhance the effects of nootropics for happiness:
- Find Your Flow. Engaging in an enjoyable activity that requires some skill and challenges you can put you in a flow state and up serotonin levels.
- Meditate. People who regularly practice mindfulness meditation have a more active left prefrontal cortex – the brain region that regulates feeling of calm and happiness.
- Use Empathy. Try on someone else's perspective. When others feel understood you can build intimacy and well-being.
- Be Grateful. Practicing gratitude can rewire your brain in the best ways. Studies show that counting your blessings can make you happier and healthier.
“In 12 years of research, I have never interviewed a single person with the capacity to really experience joy who does not also actively practice gratitude.” ~ Brené Brown
Mind Lab Pro® Nootropics for Happiness
Nootropics for happiness are supplements (sometimes called smart drugs) can boost neurotransmitter levels and brain activity to supplement all the things you do every day to improve your state of mind.
There is a long list of nootropics; the following are some of the most promising for supporting your happiness:
Choline deficiencies have been linked to poor mood. Citicoline combines uridine with choline to boost mood and protect against age-related cognitive decline by interacting with the cortico-limbic system and promoting dopamine release.
- A study showed significant increases in brain response activity in the amygdala, insula, and lateral orbitofrontal cortex, areas that control mood, pleasure response, and emotional impulses.<10>
Cognizin®'s patented citicoline form is backed by human research that support its effectiveness as a mood boosting nootropic for happiness.
Rhodiola is an adaptogen herb with a long track record for improving mood and memory. As an adaptogen, rhodiola helps mediate the negative effects of stress, promotes energy, enhances mood and improves cognition.
Rhodiola works by modulating monoamine oxidase inhibitors to slow the breakdown of happy-making neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
It also interacts with the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) system to supress cortisol production and release beta-endorphins and opiate peptides, lowering stress and boosting mood.
- Studies show rhodiola rosea can help repair damaged neurons in the hippocampus for enhanced emotional response.<11>
L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in green tea leaves and some types of mushrooms that promotes a happy, relaxed mind state by boosting GABA levels and stimulating serotonin and dopamine release. These neurotransmitters regulate mood, motivation, attention, and energy among other things.
At the same time, l-theanine lowers levels of excitatory hormones linked to stress and anxiety like cortisol and adrenaline.
But l-theanine's coolest function is enhancing alpha brain waves to help your mind relax, think creatively, and focus without becoming fatigued.
Mind Lab Pro® nootropics for happiness help to promote a bright, balanced mindset across several cognitive pathways.
Mind Lab Pro®’s patented Universal Nootropic™ brain-boosting stack is designed to unlock ultimate cognitive function and protect brain health.
- According to psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, 40 percent of happiness is controlled by our thoughts, actions, and behaviors; 50 percent is genetically inherited; and 10 percent is determined by our circumstances.
So while half of your happiness quotient may depend on genetic programming, almost as much depends on you. Mind Lab Pro® can give you the extra mood enhancers you need to pursue your purpose for a happier, more meaningful life.
You can take control of how fulfilling your life is. Happiness is not about feeling great all the time, having tons of money, or refusing to acknowledge negative aspects of life.
Happiness is a skill you can build with consistent practice. And Mind Lab Pro® nootropics for happiness could help.
- Diener E, Chan MY. Happy people live longer: Subjective well‐being contributes to health and longevity. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. 2011; 3(1), 1-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-0854.2010.01045.x
- Squire, L.R. and Knowlton, B.J. Memory, hippocampus and brain systems. In: The Cognitive Neurosciences M. Gazzaniga (Ed.), Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 825-837, 1994.
- Sheline YI, Wang PW, Gado MH, Csernansky JG, Vannier MW. Hippocampal atrophy in recurrent major depression. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Apr 30;93(9):3908-13.
- Newman E.A. “New roles for astrocytes: Regulation of synaptic transmission” Trends in Neuroscience. October 2003.Volume 26, Issue 10, p536–542.
- Baruman LC, et al. Serotonin Receptors in Hippocampus. The Scientific World Journal Volume 2012, Article ID 823493, 15 pages. doi: 10.1100/2012/823493
- Sliz D, Hayley S. Major Depressive Disorder and Alterations in Insular Cortical Activity: A Review of Current Functional Magnetic Imaging Research. Front Hum Neurosci. 2012; 6: 323. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00323
- Kraft TL, Pressman SD. Grin and bear it: the influence of manipulated facial expression on the stress response. Psychol Sci. 2012;23(11):1372-8. doi: 10.1177/0956797612445312
- Blumenthal JA, Smith PJ, Hoffman BM. Is Exercise a Viable Treatment for Depression? ACSMs Health Fit J. 2012 July/August; 16(4): 14–21. doi: 10.1249/01.FIT.0000416000.09526.eb
- Boyle PA, et al. Effect of Purpose in Life on the Relation Between Alzheimer Disease Pathologic Changes on Cognitive Function in Advanced Age. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2012 May; 69(5): 499–505. doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.1487
- Kilgore WDS, et al. Citicoline Affects Appetite and Cortico-Limbic Responses to Images of High Calorie Foods. Int J Eat Disord. 2010 Jan; 43(1): 6–13. doi: 10.1002/eat.20658
- Liu L, et al. Herbal Medicine for Anxiety, Depression and Insomnia. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2015 Jul; 13(4): 481–493. doi: 10.2174/1570159X1304150831122734
- Song CH, Jung JH, Oh JS, Kim KS. Effects of Theanine on the Release of Brain Alpha Wave in Adult Males. Korean J Nutr. 2003 Nov;36(9):918-923. Korean.