21 Aug Serotonin: The Survival Chemical
Part Three in the D.O.S.E. Series: (Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins)
By Business Motivational Speaker and Smile Expert Darryl Davis
When you think about our limbic system and how it is concerned with our survival, you could say that serotonin is the chemical force that drives us to seek elevated status (Serotonin = Status). It’s why dominant males and females have a better chance of mating, therefore enabling their DNA to survive. We’re not consciously thinking about our gene pool when we seek respect from our peers, but we do get a big dose of serotonin when we’re praised or when we’re in the limelight. Picture the “alpha” dog in a pack. He has a calm, self-assured sense of his place in the big scheme of things, and he likes it! Serotonin is associated with our ability to deal with group dynamics and competition.
Serotonin also plays a role as a transmitter. It helps us to smoothly relay messages from one part of the brain to another. When there is a lack or imbalance of serotonin, these relays can’t function properly, sometimes resulting in depression. Many of the well-known antidepressant medications (such as Prozac and Zoloft) focus on correcting this relay “glitch” with serotonin.
The simple act of flashing a smile (activating those facial muscles) will trigger a release of serotonin. You don’t need a prescription, and there are no negative side effects. Imagine the difference it would make in our society if people understood this very simple fact! Instead of relying on a prescription to fix all of our troubles, and rather than turning to drugs or alcohol, we should all practice smiling more often.
Some other ways to increase your serotonin?
- You’ve heard my marathon stories – I was never the “exercise guy” before that. I can tell you from first-hand experience that exercise is a serotonin brain-booster! A study published in the scientific journal, Neuropsychopharmacology revealed that physical activity increases brain serotonin in two ways: first, it increases the rate and frequency at which serotonin is “fired” within the brain, and secondly, it increases the level of tryptophan in the brain. Both are feel-good reactions. Try running, biking, swimming, even yoga! (Can you see me on a yoga mat? That’s got to be good for at least one smile-right?
- Check your B vitamins. According to the Franklin Institute, “Vitamins B-1, B-3, B-6 and B-9 all help convert tryptophan, an amino acid you get from protein in your diet, into functional serotonin.”
- Gut check. 95% of your serotonin is produced in the gut, so check with your doctor to see how to optimize nutrition and probiotics to stay healthy – AND happy!
Get your smile on for a shot of serotonin today! And watch for more posts about the chemicals that keep us smiling.
To learn more about transforming your life and accomplishing extraordinary things, check out my book How to Design a Life Worth Smiling About, or invite me in for your next event to get the skinny on bringing a #SMILEDOSE into your business! I’d love to hear from you! #SMILEDOSE