The Secret to a Happy Life ~ a Native American parable
One day the Creator gathered all the animals and said:
‘I want to hide the secret to a happy life from humans until they are ready for it.’
‘Give it to me. I’ll fly it to the moon,’ said the Eagle.
‘No, one day soon they will go there and find it.’
‘How about the bottom of the ocean?’ asked the Salmon.
‘No, they will find it there too.’
‘I will bury it in the great plains,’ said the Buffalo.
‘They will soon dig and find it there.’
‘Put it inside them,’ said the wise grandmother Mole.
‘Yes,’ said the Creator, ‘it is the last place they will look.’
The happiest people are those who take charge of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. We can do this by learning how to respond to our situations in ways that create and promote our happiness. Knowing that within us we have the ability to create a happy life is empowering.
Understanding how our brains work when we are happy can help us get results. The limbic system is the part of the brain that controls motivation, behavior, and emotions. It also produces four chemicals that help with mood enhancement. When those chemicals are released we become more productive and experience a greater sense of wellbeing. Essential oils can help us boost these chemical neurotransmitters.
Two of the brain chemicals that create a positive effect on mood are serotonin and dopamine. Essential oil inhalation transfers signals to the olfactory system and stimulates the brain to produce these chemicals thus regulating mood. Lemon oil essential oil “reduces anxiety and boosts both serotonin and dopamine … Other essential oils that positively impact dopamine and/or serotonin, and are also antidepressant, include clary sage, Atlas cedarwood, eucalyptus globulus and orange.”
Another important brain mood chemical is oxytocin, a hormone linked to bonding. It increases when we are in physical contact with those we care about, including our pets. Another way to boost this hormone is to inhale clary sage. Research done on pregnant women showed “that inhalation of the scent of clary sage essential oil induced an increasing trend in the oxytocin level.” Clary sage can be seen to raise oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine.
Endorphins, the fourth chemical, “are released in response to pain and stress and help to alleviate anxiety and depression. … The smell of vanilla and lavender has been linked with the production of endorphins.” Dark chocolate, the food, has also been associated with the creation of endorphins.
As we move into another year, we may be able to work towards our own happiness with the help of Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) and a few bites of chocolate. Happy New Year to you!