These chemicals are directly impacting your employees' happiness.

1. Endorphins

Endorphins are opioid neuropeptides, which means they are produced by the central nervous system to help us deal with physical pain. They also make us feel lightheaded and even giddy at times. One non-painful (well, not too painful) way to induce endorphins is exercise.

Endorphins are released after both aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

Make your employees Enrol for our Gym/yoga/Zumba/dance facility or make it very convenient and economical for them. Along with regular exercise, laughter is one of the easiest ways to induce endorphin release. Even the anticipation and expectation of laugher, e.g., attending a comedy show, increases levels of endorphins. Taking your sense of humor to work, forwarding funny emails, and finding several things to laugh at during the day is a great way to increase this hormone.

Aromatherapies: The smell of vanilla and lavender has been linked with the production of endorphins. Studies have shown that dark chocolate and spicy foods can lead the brain to release endorphins. Keep some scented oils and some dark chocolate at your desk for a quick endorphin boost.

2. Serotonin

Serotonin may be the best-known happiness chemical because it’s the one that antidepressant medication primarily addresses. Serotonin is the chemical we feel when we are respected, admired, and given preferential treatment. It boosts our confidence and makes us feel awesome.

When people see you and respect you as their leader, it boosts your serotonin by making you feel great and it boosts their serotonin because they trust you.

Reflecting on past significant achievements allows the brain to relive the experience. Our brain has trouble telling the difference between what’s real and imagined, so it produces serotonin in both cases. It’s another reason why gratitude practices are popular. They remind us that we are valued and have much to value in life. If you need a serotonin boost during a stressful day, take a few moments to reflect on past achievements and victories.

Have lunch or coffee outside and expose yourself to the sun for 20 minutes; our skin absorbs UV rays, which promotes vitamin D and serotonin production. Although too much ultraviolet light isn’t good, some daily exposure is healthy to boost serotonin levels.

Serotonin affects our bodies in many ways. The most common link is made with the person’s confidence and sense of belonging. Therefore, if a person wishes to increase the serotonin and with that their sense of purpose, they need to challenge themselves on a regular basis. Exposure to bright light, especially sunlight, is one way to increase serotonin. Exercise and happy thoughts also stimulate the production of this chemical. Some research has found that a higher intake of tryptophan-heavy foods, relative to other foods in the diet, may do the trick as well.

If you’re in a good mood, you’ve got serotonin to thank. And if you’re in a bad mood, you’ve got serotonin to blame. It’s a regulator. Interestingly, Nicole explains, 80 percent of serotonin exists in the gut and is governed by your state of hunger (yes, this is why you’re hungry).

Imagine trying to work on a project that requires 20 people on a team, but instead, you’re given a team of 10. Do you think the project will be done on time and that it will be done well?

Probably not.

The brain is no different. If we have low levels of our happy neurotransmitter, Serotonin, it makes it more challenging for our brain to feel happy. Low levels of serotonin are seen cases of depression and the lower the levels of serotonin, the more severe the depression may get.

3. Dopamine ‘the reward molecule

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter often referred to as the “chemical of reward.” When you score a goal, hit a target, or accomplish a task, you receive a pleasurable hit of dopamine in your brain that tells you you’ve done a good job. But you can also get a natural dose of dopamine when you perform acts of kindness toward others.

Volunteering has been shown to increase dopamine as well as have other long-term health benefits. And some research has even found that it only takes thoughts of loving-kindness to bring on the dopamine high.

Dopamine motivates us to take action toward goals, desires, and needs and gives a surge of reinforcing pleasure when achieving them. Procrastination, self-doubt, and lack of enthusiasm are linked with low levels of dopamine. Studies on rats showed those with low levels of dopamine always opted for an easy option and less food; those with higher levels exerted the effort needed to receive twice the amount of food.

Break big goals down into little pieces — rather than only allowing our brains to celebrate when we’ve hit the finish line, we can create a series of little finish lines that releases dopamine. And it’s crucial to actually celebrate — buy a bottle of wine, or head to your favorite restaurant whenever you meet a small goal.

Instead of being left with a dopamine hangover, create new goals before achieving your current one. That ensures a continual flow for experiencing dopamine. As an employer and leader, recognizing the accomplishments of your team, e.g. sending them an email, or giving a bonus, will allow them to have a dopamine hit and increase future motivation and productivity.

Dopamine is what produces that irresistible urge to check every notification on your phone.

Each time we clear the notification, respond to the text, or read an email it gives us a boost in dopamine. Since dopamine makes us feel great, we instinctively do things that give us a quick dopamine fix without considering the value of those things.

For example, a common form of procrastination is filling your time with busy-work and avoiding the important task that you dread doing. Each meaningless task that you complete gives you a temporary boost in satisfaction, but is it really helping you? Probably not.

4. Oxytocin the bonding molecule

Mothers may be familiar with oxytocin, a hormone produced in abundance during pregnancy. Oxytocin is primarily associated with loving touch and close relationships.

This hormone provides multiple whammies of warm fuzzies, by stimulating dopamine and serotonin while reducing anxiety. To get your hit of oxytocin without popping ecstasy, give someone you love a cuddle. Even a pet will do.

When someone receives a gift, their oxytocin levels can rise.

What we eat affects the production of these hormones and thereby impacts the state of Flow.