When we ask ourselves what makes us happy, we often think of the circumstances, possessions, or people in our lives. In reality, happiness is largely a chemical experience. Four main neurochemicals, hormones, and neurotransmitters generated in the brain are fundamentally responsible for creating the sensations and emotions we've come to associate with happiness.
This is actually great news. It means even when circumstances, possessions, or people in our lives aren't exactly as we'd like them to be, there are simple ways we can increase our happy brain chemicals and alter our moods.
I talk about this with my mindfulness students in elementary school, and they really understand the concept. I'll often have a kid tell me about the rush of dopamine she just got from getting an A+ on her spelling test, or the hit of oxytocin a boy felt from giving his mom a hug.
Here's how you can do the same.