Serotonin Smile

Last night I went to a seminar about Neuro-linguistic Programming as part of the Angels Bring Business networking club. It was a very interesting seminar and I highly recommend visiting the club if you have time (girls only though I’m afraid).

I need to drop in a bit of backstory here – three years ago I had a friend who was insistent that I kept up-to-date with all current affairs; basically insisted that I listened to the radio, watched the news on television, read about it in papers or caught-up online. It’s something I’ve always avoided. I’m not referring to ‘popular culture’ as such because I do think that is important knowledge in order to stay current in my area of work. I’m talking about general ‘happening now’ situations that are happening all over the world. He couldn’t understand why I didn’t take an interest.

Whenever I open a newspaper or see the news bulletin introduction on TV it would just be packed full of all the bad things that were happening around the world; disasters, murders, disease, crisis, destruction, crime – basically a lot of people reminding me how terrible the world can be.

With this in mind:

One part of the yesterday’s seminar made me particularly happy – during his speech, Dr. Graham Dexter referenced an experiment which measured and compared Serotonin levels in the blood, both before and after a group of students had been reading different kinds of material.

For those who don’t know; Serotonin is a natural chemical found in the blood (also in plants/fungi and is actually the main cause of diarrhoea if you eat too much fruit, but that’s a whoooole other story). Anyway, this Serotonin chemical is responsible for releasing hormones that create feelings of happiness in humans. That means the more Serotonin in our blood, the happier we will feel.

The students were split into two groups of 50, randomly. One group of 50 were given entertaining stories and light-hearted quips to read and the other group were given stories about disasters, earthquakes, illness, suffering, that kind of thing.

The blood-test results showed a very high rise in Serotonin levels within the group who had been reading the happier stories. Dr. Dexter basically proved that your physical chemical levels can be controlled completely through the mind depending on what you put into it.

I couldn’t find the exact experiment online but the second section in this article ‘Trick Yourself Happy” suggests doing a similar thing to raise Serotonin levels.

Watching or reading about current affairs will mostly (and physically) depress you, so maybe I’m not so closed-minded after all? An emotional genius you say? I know, right!