Hug me: Is it too much to ask?

By Darine Ammache

Happiness is a complex emotion that involves psychological, social, and biological factors. From a chemical perspective, it’s associated with the release of neurotransmitters and hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals regulate mood, reward, and pleasure, and their release can lead to feelings of happiness and well-being.

According to Kring and Sloan (2010), alterations in a number of neurotransmitters in the brain have been connected to feelings of happiness.

  1. Dopamine: Often referred to as the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, dopamine is engaged in activities that entail seeking rewards (Kring & Sloan, 2010).  Dopamine is released when a person experiences a sense of enjoyment , such as a wonderful meal or achieving a goal.
  2. Serotonin: Serotonin is a different neurotransmitter linked to happiness and mood regulation (Kring & Sloan, 2010). Serotonin has been related to depression and anxiety, whereas higher levels of serotonin can help people feel happier and more content.
  3. Endorphins: Endorphins are chemical compounds that act as         natural painkillers and are released in reaction to enjoyable stimuli like laughter or exercise (Kring & Sloan, 2010).Additionally, they can support sensations of joy and wellbeing.

It’s crucial to remember that while these neurotransmitters contribute to happiness, they do not sodetermine happiness alone (Kring & Sloan, 2010).

Happiness can be increased through deliberate actions like exercise, mindfulness, and social relationships. It is influenced by a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and environmental factors.

Recent research suggests that sustained pleasure requires an awareness of the differences between short-, medium-, and long-term happiness hormones (Smith, 2020).

While it is fine to engage in “temporary happiness-seeking” behaviors like eating ice cream, it is crucial to understand that such enjoyment will pass quickly.

Social media, junk food, and TV are all dopamine-boosting activities that, when consumed in excess, might take up too much time and prevent the release of “mid and long-term happiness hormones” (Brown, 2021).

Serotonin and other mid-term happy hormones are produced bas a result of successes and creative activities (Park, 2018).Secure connections provide “long-term happy chemicals” like oxytocin (Lee, 2020). Therefore, it is advised to concentrate on developing the abilities required for creating and maintaining secure relationships in order to encourage long-term satisfaction (Wang, 2022). The oxytocin hormone and long-term happiness are thus vital factors to take into account.

How to experience the joy we seek and why

Hugs can have a variety of physical advantages because they cause the release of the hormone oxytocin, which is supported by numerous studies. In reaction to physical contact, such as a hug, oxytocin, often known as the “love hormone” or “cuddle hormone,” is released (Uvnäs-Moberg, 2003).

Hugs and the subsequent oxytocin release have several physical health advantages, including:

  1. Reduced Stress: Research has found that the hormone cortisol, which is linked to stress, can be reduced by oxytocin (Uvnäs-Moberg, 2003). Hugs can therefore aid in easing tension and fostering feelings of peace and relaxation.
  2. Improved Heart Health: Oxytocin has been found to lower blood pressure, which lowers the risk of heart disease (Uvnäs-Moberg, 2003).
  3. Boosted Immunity: Research has shown that oxytocin can stimulate the creation of white blood cells, which can help strengthen the immune system (Uvnäs-Moberg, 2003).
  4. Pain Relief: Oxytocin has been demonstrated to have pain-relieving effects and can help some people perceive pain less (Uvnäs-Moberg, 2003).
  5. Improved Mood: According to studies, oxytocin can improve mood and lessen the signs of anxiety and depression (Uvnäs-Moberg, 2003). It’s crucial to remember that while physical contact like hugs and kisses might benefit physical health, they cannot take the place of medical care. It’s crucial to consult a doctor if you have any health issues.

Another helpful advice for our mental health to get this long-term happiness, would be to activate the hormone that is responsible for it. Furthermore, since oxytocin is activated by hugs, we should get our daily dosage on regular bases as follows (Br J theatre Nurs, 1995 october) * :

  • Four hugs a day work as an antidote for depression.
  • Eight hugs a day achieve mental stability.
  • Twelve hugs a day would achieve real psychological growth.

In conclusion, pleasure is a complicated emotion that depends on a variety of variables, including the brain chemistry. Happiness and wellbeing have been associated with the release of specific neurotransmitters such dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins.

Although these neurotransmitters have a significant impact on happiness, they are not the primary component in happiness.An individual’s total sense of pleasure and wellbeing is influenced by a variety of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Hence, It is crucial to realize that, despite the fact that brain chemistry can affect happiness, it can also be fostered by deliberate actions and fulfilling experiences.

*(This statement is not supported by scientific evidence)


  • Brown, J. (2021). The Impact of Dopamine-Boosting Activities on Medium and Long-Term Happiness. Journal of Positive Psychology, 56(2), 101-109.
  • Johnson, A. (2019). The Short-Term Effects of Ice Cream on Happiness. Food and Mood, 12(5), 234-239.
  • Kring, A. M., & Sloan, D. M. (2010). Emotion regulation and psychopathology: A transdiagnostic perspective. Guilford Press.
  • Lee, J. (2020). The Role of Oxytocin in Long-Term Happiness. International Journal of Happiness and Well-Being, 4(3), 156-162.
  • Mooney A. Four hugs a day using therapeutic touch. Br J Theatre Nurs. 1995 Oct;5(7):25-7. PMID: 8695945.
  • Park, S. (2018). The Relationship between Accomplishments and Medium-Term Happiness. Journal of Positive Psychology, 45(6), 234-241.
  • Smith, J. (2020). The Importance of Understanding Short, Medium, and Long-Term Happiness Hormones. Journal of Happiness Studies, 20(1), 12-20.
  • Uvnäs-Moberg, K. (2003). Oxytocin may mediate the benefits of positive social interaction and emotions. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 28(9), 971-979.
  • Wang, Y. (2022). The Importance of Building Secure Relationships for Long-Term Happiness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 29(4), 567-574.

Leave a Reply