4 Chemicals That Activate Happiness, and How You Can Access Them

The chemicals in your brain that can positively affect your mood.

Maddie Rosier
4 min readJun 4, 2021


Hormones are chemicals produced by different glands across our body that are released into our bloodstream, and certain hormones are known to help promote positive feelings and good moods.

The four main happiness chemicals are dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin. Each of these chemicals can have an impact on happiness, with effects ranging from managing stress, increasing pleasure, reducing pain and feelings of general well-being.

To put it simply — if you’re feeling good, your brain is likely releasing one of these four chemicals.

So, what do each of the chemicals do, and how can we access them?


Introducing the reward chemical.

What is it?

Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter that drives our brain’s reward chemical, and is released when we are doing something that brings us pleasure.

It can be used to enhance motivation and concentration. When we are experiencing higher levels of dopamine, we can find that our sense of purpose, drive and motivation are boosted. Dopamine helps us strive towards achieving our goals.

A lack of dopamine can cause things like low self-esteem, procrastination, feelings of anxiousness/hopelessness and low levels of energy and motivation.

How can we access it?

  • Eating good food (particularly those rich in L-Tyrosine)
  • Achieving a goal or completing a task (whip out those to-do lists, people!)
  • Creating something you’re proud of (writing, music, crafts)
  • Self-care activities (taking a bath, getting a massage, etc)
  • Getting a good night’s sleep (7–9 hours)
Photo by Kate Stone Matheson on Unsplash


Introducing the pain killer.

What is it?

Endorphins are the body’s natural pain reliever. Your body will release endorphins in response to stress and discomfort, and provide you with a brief sense of euphoria to mask (rather than cure) feelings of pain, stress and anxiety.

An endorphin deficiency can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, insomnia and impulsive behaviour.

How can we access it?

  • Exercising (particularly HIIT exercises)
  • Listening to music
  • Stretching
  • Watching a funny / enjoyable movie
  • Laughing or crying
  • Eating chocolate (particularly dark chocolate)
Photo by Ilias Chebbi on Unsplash


Introducing the love hormone.

What is it?

The ‘love hormone’ helps promote feelings of trust and empathy and can contribute to building stronger relationships. It often has a bigger impact on a female’s physiology than a male’s, and is mainly achieved through loving contact.

Oxytocin can also stimulate serotonin and dopamine, whilst also lowering feelings of anxiety.

How can we access it?

  • Socialising
  • Physical touch
  • Spending time with your pets
  • Playing with your baby / kids
  • Physical affection from a loved one
  • Giving or receiving a compliment
  • Helping others or doing volunteer work
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


Introducing the mood stabiliser.

What is it?

This hormone, which is also a neurotransmitter, helps regulate our moods as well as our sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability and memory.

It can be used to create a better sense of well-being and overall happiness. One of the biggest triggers of serotonin is an increased sense of self-confidence. When we feel a sense of accomplishment or recognition from others, we are experiencing the effects of serotonin.

How can we access it?

  • Spending time in the sun
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Spend time in nature
  • Meditating
  • Positive social interactions
Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash



Maddie Rosier

Leaving parties early since 1991. Advertising suit by day.