Endorphin is triggered by pain. That’s surprising because we associate it with joy. “Runner’s high” is only produced if you run to the point of pain, alas, and that’s not safe to do on a regular basis. Endorphin creates a euphoria that masks pain. In the state of nature, this enables an injured animal to run for its life despite the pain. Endorphin helped an injured cave man look for help. Endorphin is literally “endogenous morphine.” The good feeling soon passes, and then you feel the pain. We need pain because it tells us not to walk on a broken leg or touch a hot stove. We are not designed to cause ourselves pain just to get the endorphin. That’s a very bad strategy because you have to create more and more pain in order to stimulate it. We are better off just being glad we have it for emergencies.
Laughing triggers a bit of endorphin because it jiggles your innards. It feels great because you’re getting it without obvious pain. But it’s brief. To get more, you have to laugh more, but it takes a real belly laugh to trigger it. How can you get that? It’s hard to predict. Even expensive tickets to a famous comedian doesn’t always work. What you can do is give yourself permission to laugh when you feel like, and make time in your life for things you think are funny. Don’t waste this time on things that crack up your friends and relatives but fail to amuse you. It’s your body and you need to take charge to get that endorphin.
3. Varying your exercise
Exercise is the key to endorphin in most people’s minds, but there’s an unfortunate catch. If you expect a full euphoric “high,” you will have to exercise to the point of pain e very time. Your body will habituate so you will have to go further and further. Bad idea. Instead of striving for pain, you can commit to exercising without the full euphoria. But you can get a bit extra by varying your exercise, because that activate parts that aren’t usually activated. We have three layers of muscles so it takes quite a variety to activate all of them. Many people don’t like to vary their exercise routine, but endorphin will reward you if you do.
Do NOT make a habit of crying, because it triggers cortisol as well as endorphin. But if you feel like crying, it’s good to know that your body releases a bit of endorphin to help you reboot. So go watch Dr. Zhivago and let it out.
Yay! Stretching is an endorphin boost that’s always available. Moderation is the key. You can’t get a huge boost from a huge stretch just because you got a small boost from a small stretch. But you can do it often. Right now while you’re reading, you can roll your ankles and move your shoulders and enjoy some endorphin. Now your fingers. Now your ears. Keep going.