Happiness is a fish I remember fondly in my youth.
Mom and Dad didn’t have a lot of money.
Mom was a teenager when I was born.
Dad was a middle school drop-out.
Without formal education, the world beat the snot out of them.
Yet I angled mostly good times in my childhood.
As I aged, it became clear we were poor, living in a trailer, growing our own food and hunting for whatever else we needed.
We were happy.
I think about those days and wonder how my parents kept the wheels on the trailer, both figuratively and literally.
I went to University for 7 years and got an MBA.
My sister joined the Army and then became a top Lab Tech in one of the biggest hospitals in Canada. She’s 45 and is studying for another degree in Management.
After the kids left, Mom went back to school and became a nurse.
Dad kept huntin’ and fishin’ and growin’ his garden because that’s what Dad loves to do.
My parents used superglue to create happiness and didn’t know it.
Here’s what I’ve discovered:
Happiness is based on four neurotransmitters / hormones in the brain.
Endorphins, Dopamine, Serotonin and Oxytocin.
1. Endorphins are the body’s response to Stress and Pain.
A good example of an endorphin rush is the Runner’s High. After a marathon, the body will secret endorphins to mask the pain in the muscles. Only a few days later, the runner will realize the stress as the body goes into extreme pain.
Other ways endorphins are released is through emotions. Think of a rollercoaster.
The adrenaline rush is basically an endorphin surge to protect the body.
Watch a comedy. If you laugh, you received endorphins.
2. Dopamine is responsible for Motivation and Reward.
Without Dopamine, we’d never know when to eat. It’s secreted when we do all the fun stuff: Smoking, drinking, gambling and having sex.
Linked to pleasure and highly addictive, it’s dangerous and destructive if unchecked.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt references Dopamine with, “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort”.
3. Serotonin is responsible for Pride and Status.
Serotonin is released when we encourage or help someone. Interestingly, it gets released for both the person receiving and the person giving the help or encouragement.
Some say it’s the Leadership chemical. The interesting thing about Serotonin is that most people TRICK Serotonin by buying things.
4. Oxytocin is secreted when there are bonds of love, trust and friendship.
With intense feelings of safety, we know someone has our back.
Physical touch, such as hugging, shaking hands can give us a boost of Oxytocin.
Generosity with time, or showing people we care about them, delivers a sliver of Oxytocin.
Oxytocin makes us better people.
It inhibits addictions, boosts our immunity, and increases creativity.
When we are around people who believe what we believe, we feel safe, creating large doses of Oxytocin.
George Sand is referring to Oxytocin when he said “There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved”.
More interestingly, another fact about Oxytocin is that it is important to childbirth.
It increases four times higher during the last trimester of pregnancy.
A final pulse during birth helps uterine contractions, opens the cervix and moves the baby into the birth canal.
Both mother and baby get a burst of Oxytocin during the last moments of birth.
In the search of my white whale, “What makes us happy”? I’ve come to this conclusion.
Happiness is both short term and long term.
It shows up when we buy stuff to make us feel good about ourselves. (Serotonin)
It emerges when we do fun stuff like eating, drinking, and gambling. (Dopamine)
It appears when we laugh. (Adrenaline and Endorphins)
But all three are short-term bursts of happiness. They last as long as the activity and fade as fast as they lit the darkness.
To live a long happy life, we need to give and receive love.
Love is the nectar to life.
Love is the nuclear warhead that euthanizes sadness.
Love has to be unconditional as “Mother’s love”.
Despite our misgivings, unruly behaviours and blatant mistakes, this love hugs us in a swaddling blanket and says everything is going to be ok.
You are going to be ok.
Mom and Dad knew that instinctively.
They didn’t have much but they always loved and supported me in my crazy ideas.
When it comes to business, your job is to sell happiness.
And the best happiness that is long lasting and unbreakable is through the use of Oxytocin.
Stop worrying about the colour of your logo, the size of your ad, or the shares on Facebook.
Connect with your customers.
Show them you care.
Love them for their uniqueness.
Listen to them.
Make their lives better.
Encourage them in their dreams.
Support them when they fail.
Forgive them for their mistakes
Love your customers as if they were your own children.
If you do this, Oxytocin breathes into the river of life catching all the customers you’ll ever need.
You’ll be happy.
They will be happy.
Your business will grow and your life will be AWESOME.