From a neuroscience perspective, it has been said that early separation between mother and infant causes a significant reduction of the neurotransmitter Serotonin, also called the “happiness hormone”.
Therefore, with lower levels of serotonin in our system, we may find it harder to feel happy and joyful compared with others. However, thanks to new research, we now know that the brain is malleable and changeable. In other words, nobody is doomed to living a life devoid of joy and happiness because of early life experiences.
We can learn! We can change! We can grow!
In my personal life, I used to be struggling with dark thoughts and emotions, even though I would try my best to not show it to anyone. I had become accustomed to feeling this way, so much that I had almost settled with the idea that I was never going to be truly happy.
What I understood as I became a therapist was that I had spent my life trying to avoid getting hurt. As my body remembered the tremendous loss experienced when being given up for adoption, I unconsciously decided to do whatever it takes to avoid this type of suffering again. However, I didn’t know that by closing my heart in order to avoid hurt, I was also preventing myself from feeling joy and happiness. You can’t choose to only feel the ‘good’ emotions and suppress the ‘painful’ ones. If you close your heart to pain, you also do so for joy.
So, alongside working on ‘my primal wound’ with my own therapist, I started making it a priority to practice finding and feeling joy in my life. It started with me realizing the things that bring a high level of joy, excitement, and love, namely listening and dancing to Latin Music. I can literally feel my vibration increase, my mood change and my heart open when I listen to and dance salsa, merengue, cumbia, bachata among other genres. I realized that I need to have this in my weekly, or even daily, routine so that I can access the high-energy, soul-nurturing emotion of JOY. And of course, some days were more successful than others, but the bottom line is that it is vital to find ways that allow us to feel an emotion that we may not have felt in a long time.
And the more we practise it, the easier it becomes. This is not magic. This is brain chemistry and neuroscience.
So, what is it that helps YOU feel joy? What is it that feeds YOUR soul?
What can YOU do to include more joy in your life?