Title and writer of happiness blog

Happiness at your Fingertips

Wanna be Happy at will? Wanna have happiness at your fingertips? Wanna control happy hormones in yourself and others? Read on.

We as humans experience that our desires govern our life. We live in a state of “wanting” something. Be it a good career, a loving life partner, a warm relationship, a huge bungalow, a royal car, good wealth and health, etc. And there is no end to the list. But why is that so? What do we want? What is the ultimate goal of every human being? The simple answer is: HAPPINESS!

A survey once found out that 80% of people wanted to become rich or get famous to be happy. And the impression that they carry is such that they need to constantly push themselves to achieve their goals to have a good life. But actually they don’t find happiness in the process and “miss” life. What if they learn to see the entire life as the sum total of instances and experiences? That will surely change their perception of life and happiness. But then the question is what is happiness and how to bring it under our control?

The same question must have popped up in a psychiatrist named Robert Waldinger’s head when he chose to conduct perhaps the longest and the most extensive research in human history, i.e., study on human life AKA the Harvard Study of Adult Development. This professor of Harvard Medical School is monitoring the study that has tracked the lives of 724 men for over 80 years.

Since 1938, they have tracked the lives of two groups of men. The first group involved the sophomores of Harvard College. They all finished college during World War II, then went off to serve in the war. The second group was a group of boys from Boston’s poorest community; they were chosen because they belonged to some of the most troubled and disadvantaged families in Boston. They lived in tenements without many basic facilities like hot and cold running water.

The project involved studying the journey of subjects from their teenage years into their old age and to know what keeps people happy and healthy through yearly questionnaires regarding their work, their relationships, their health, etc.

They began by interviewing these teenagers along with their parents. They were given medical exams. When these teenagers grew up into adults, they chose to be different professionals from factory workers, lawyers, bricklayers to doctors. Some developed alcoholism and some developed schizophrenia. Some became very successful and some lost their success and failed miserably.

Sometimes studies like this may fall apart within a decade due to various reasons, like people may drop out or die, the funding of the research may fall short, or the researchers get distracted. But this rare study survived all odds. Several generations of researchers were consistent in conducting this, and took it further. A few of the subjects are still alive and participating in the study even at the age of 90. Now they are studying more than 2000 children of the men who participated in the study.

So what was the conclusion from this 75-year study? Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. And there is a scientific reason behind that. Having the people whom you love around you, your body generates all those happy hormones, neurotransmitters, chemicals that can help you to lead a happy and contented life. So technically, our happiness is in our own hands. Anatomically, indeed in our own body.

Hormones act as messengers for our body that regulate our physical functioning like heart rate and digestion, our emotional well-being, mood, and feelings. Our thoughts, emotions, activities, conducts, diet, gut microbes, exercise regime, environment, relationships, and the people we surround ourselves with, all these things influence the hormones in our body. Some hormones help one to feel joy, experience pleasure, give relief from pain, boost mood, and promote general well-being. They alleviate anxiety and prevent depressive symptoms. These are called happy hormones. These feel-good hormones are dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphin. Let’s have a brief look at them all.

  • Serotonin:- The mood stabilizer

Our gut bacteria stimulate the cells which are responsible for serotonin production. This happy hormone (and neurotransmitter) helps regulate your mood as well as your sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory. Most rhythmic activities generate this hormone.

The activities which increase serotonin in the body are :

  1. Meditation
  2. Running
  3. Walking in nature
  4. Swimming
  5. Cycling
  6. Sunbathing

 

  • Endorphin:- The Painkiller And The Runners Hormone

Your body produces endorphins in response to stress or discomfort. Once released, it binds to opioid receptors (that are the body’s natural morphine). Thus, it inhibits the transmission of pain signals in the central nervous system. So endorphin is your body’s natural pain reliever.

Endorphin induces euphoria. A big rush of endorphin is the cause behind the occurrence of the famous “Runner’s high”. That is the reason why people get hooked on exercise even when it requires physical efforts and causes post-exercise DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness).

Any reward-producing activity like eating, working out can increase the level of endorphin. Now endorphin and dopamine are interconnected. When endorphin binds to receptors of the central nervous system, dopamine (the pleasure hormone) is released.

The activities which increase endorphin in the body are.

  1. Laughing
  2. Watching a comedy movie
  3. Eating a dark chocolate
  4. Exercising especially running
  5. Reading or listening to a joke
  6. Enjoying delicious dishes

 

  • Dopamine:- The motivational roleplayer in the brain’s reward system

Dopamine is a “feel-good” hormone and neurotransmitter that makes you happy. It keeps you alive and alert. That’s an important part of your brain’s “reward system” that gives you pleasurable sensations and keeps you coming back for more.

Dopamine is associated with achieving, completing a task, learning, memory, motor system function, and more. Your gut produces more than 50% of your dopamine.

The activities which increase dopamine in the body are:

  1. When you complete a task
  2. Self-care activities
  3. Enjoying a delicious meal
  4. Celebrating little wins
  5. Physical and mental pleasure
  6. Entertaining feel-good thoughts

 

  • Oxytocin:- The love hormone

Oxytocin is a “love/cuddle hormone,” that helps promote trust, empathy, bonding, and trust in relationships. It is highly active during childbirth because it stimulates contractions and is essential for breastfeeding, and strong parent-child bonding.

Physical affection like kissing, cuddling, and an act of lovemaking can increase the level of oxytocin. It’s a neurotransmitter that regulates stress responses and calms the nervous system.  It’s produced in response to touch and the right kind of eye contact.

The activities which increase oxytocin in the body are:

  1. Playing with a baby
  2. Playing with a dog
  3. Holding hands
  4. Cuddling with a loved one
  5. Paying a compliment
  6. Carrying out group activities with friends and family

 

The following are some lifestyle modification ideas that you can add to your schedule to increase the production of happy hormones.

  1. Let The Sun And Vitamin D Be Your True Doctor

Sunbathing is known to increase the production of serotonin in the body. Early morning sunlight in your verandah, nearby park, or gallery can be helpful to you to get enough yet safe sunlight required for your body.

 

  1. Work That Body Out

A regular fitness regimen is important to relieve anxiety, improve mood, and combat depression. Good exercise promotes the secretion of happy hormones in our bodies.

 

  1. Laugh Your Lungs Out

Some comedy series, funny videos, hilarious novels can do wonders to provide you  with your daily dose of the best medicine, i.e, laughter. Laughter removes or reduces sadness and pain.

 

  1. Cook And Cuddle With Your Loved One

The comfort you get from eating something delicious can trigger the release of dopamine and endorphin. Sharing the meal with your loved ones, and bonding over meal preparation help to boost oxytocin levels. Remember those community feasts? Cooking together and eating together!

 

Different types of food can trigger the release of different hormones. For example, spicy foods help with endorphin release. Yogurt, beans, eggs, meats with low-fat content, and almonds are responsible for dopamine release. Foods that are high in tryptophan tend to increase serotonin levels. And lastly, foods containing probiotics, such as yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut, can influence the release of all happy hormones

 

  1. Sup! Supplements

You can support your mental wellbeing by taking care of your gut bacteria and your diet. There’s a second “brain” in our gut; the enteric nervous system that is to be credited for our longevity.

 

A balanced whole-food diet promotes mental as well as physical health. Contrary to that, people who eat an unhealthy diet consisting of refined carbohydrates, fast food, and animal products tend to have less beneficial bacteria.

 

One can add foods containing tryptophan; the essential amino acid the body uses to produce serotonin, to their diet. Chickpeas, wheat, oats, milk, cheese, and potatoes are such a few examples.

Foods with tyrosine are linked to dopamine production. Green tea and green tea extract help in producing dopamine and serotonin.

 

People with certain health conditions should always consult a physician before adding any supplements as they interfere with some medication.

 

  1. Music To The Rescue

Listening to instrumental music increase dopamine production in your brain. But listening to any music you enjoy puts you in a good mood. And such a positive change in your mood increases serotonin production.

 

When a musician produces a piece of good music or performs music by dancing, singing, or drumming, he experiences an endorphin release.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23089077/

 

  1. Meditate For The Mind That Matters

Along with the many benefits of meditation, one of the major benefits is that it helps to increase the level of dopamine and endorphin in our brain by creating new neural pathways and releasing the old that doesn’t serve us.

 

  1. Plan A Rosy Evening Filled With Romance

The ‘Love Hormone” oxytocin is released even by simply being attracted to someone. Spending time with someone you care about helps increase oxytocin production. Dancing with your partner releases the endorphine in you. A word of caution: Handle this suggestion with care! 😉

 

  1. Pat Your Pet

Any dog lover can vouch for the happiness he gets when he cuddles or plays with his dog. This bonding increases the oxytocin level in both of them.

 

  1. Sleep Tight so Good can Be Your Night.

7 to 9 hours of sleep each night helps restoring the balance of hormones in your body. Without enough sleep, dompamine levels are disturbed. The majority of the healing including the balance in your hormones happens during sleep. Respect sleep!

 

  1. Stress! Stay Away

This one is a complete no-brainer. Living with regular stress and dealing with highly stressful life events can cause drops in dopamine and serotonin production. Cultivating a hobby is a good way to keep the stress at bay.

 

  1. Keep Your Massage Mode On

A good massage can boost all 4 of your happy hormones. You can choose a licensed therapist for getting a massage.

 

For a healthy body, you need a healthy mind matters. It is indeed the issue of mind over matter! So keep your mind occupied with the activities mentioned above, and have happiness at your fingertips.

Written by
Dr Krushika Shah

Pic of the writer Krushika Shah

 

 

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SMC office in Surat

Why is Spoken English in Surat the need of the hour?

Why is Spoken English in Surat the need of the hour? Well, Surat is a beautiful city on the banks of the river Tapi. Let us figure out its history, culture, and financial background first. This will help us understand where English conversation in Surat stands presently and why the importance of written and spoken English in Surat is growing. Similarly, it will also help us to realise why it is important to have a good IELTS class in Surat.

Surat is well known in the Indian subcontinent from time immemorial. You can find mentions of the city even in holy books like the Mahabharata. It was a stopover spot for Lord Krishna on his journey from Mathura to Dwarka.

A brahmin named Gopi found the city in the late fifteenth century and named it Suryapur, which means the city of the Sun. It was a famous port for trade and commerce in the British era. True to its name, Surat even today is the rising sun of sarees, diamonds, and unique street food. Surat spreads the sunlight of unique embroidery designs and “jhari” work all over the world.

When anyone talks about sarees, the first thing that comes to mind is the advertisement ‘Sari mein Sari Parag Saree’, right? This saree brand is one of the many well-known brands in Surat. This is because Surat is the hub of selling Indian ethnic wear like sarees, salwar kameez, and kurtis in India and abroad.

Similarly, Surat is well known as a diamond cutting, polishing, and supplying hub. That is why it is also called the Diamond City of India. In a similar manner, Surat is well known for its unique mouth-watering Surti cuisines like Locho, Ghari, Ponk, Undhyu, Cold Coco, … the list goes on and on.

The diamond and the Indian ethnic wear make Surat one of the leading shopping hubs of India. The city provides employment opportunities to millions of daily wagers from across the country. They come here to make their career in the diamond and the textile industry. That makes Surat one of the fastest-growing cities of India.

How has the lack of fluent English Speaking hampered Surat?

Even though the city boasts of being the diamond city, only the manufacturing work is done in Surat. Major tasks such as sales, advertising, and marketing of the Diamond and the Textile industry are done in metros like Mumbai and Ahmedabad. One of the main reasons for it is that the people of Surat are not so comfortable about Speaking English. Moreover, Surties do not give so much importance to the English Language.

People here face many difficulties in trading due to this language barrier. This obstacle significantly stunts the growth of the city. In fact, this makes a handful of people who are good at written and spoken English in Surat get special importance. Since I was born and brought up in Surat, I can vouch for this. My fluency in English conversation has leveraged my career as a digital marketer and content writer. However, I faced difficulties in getting managerial-level jobs as I grew in experience.

The diamond and the textile industry do not require skilled labourers. Most educated youths are in family businesses, or job seekers like me who prefer to migrate to metros like Mumbai in search of better job opportunities. So, the use of English is very limited in Surat.

Why can’t people in Surat speak in English fluently?

When I interacted with my friends, colleagues, and common people, I came to know the reasons why even after having a good command of written communication, they were not able to communicate verbally in English.  The major reasons why the people of Surat cannot speak good English are discussed below.

  1. Lack of conducive environment at home for English

In order to learn a language, it is very important to speak that language on a daily basis. One needs to interact frequently and regularly. However, most of the people in Surat have parents and friends that do not speak in English, and converse in the vernacular.

This is also the prime reason for inhibitions while speaking in English. They are error-conscious; they fear that they might be made fun of if they speak something wrong.  This is because they have not spoken enough English either at home or with friends and colleagues.

  1. Less emphasis on communicative English during school and college study

There are many schools and colleges in Surat. However, the focus is on marks and syllabus completion, not on skills. Students don’t get enough knowledge or skills to master the target language. Students learn without understanding concepts–they study just for the sake of getting high marks.

  1. Translating from mother tongue

Another reason for this lack of speaking ability in English is that English is almost the third or fourth language for the people of Surat; the first two being the mother tongue and Hindi. Most people think in their native language and then translate it into English. This leads to errors in sentence construction because English differs markedly from Indian languages in terms of structures. For instance, English in general has a subject -verb-object sentence order while Gujarati has a subject-object-verb order. Let’s see this with an example:

Hu locho khai rahyo hato – Here “Hu” is the subject while “Locho” is the object and “khai rahyo hato” is the verb phrase.

In English it would be “I was having Locho” where “I” is the subject “was having” is the verb phrase and “Locho” is the object.

  1. Carrying over Gujarati pronunciation habits into English

The other important aspect is that there is a lot of mother tongue influence in Indian English. If you have watched the movie Sanju, you must have seen the Vicky Kaushal character pronouncing “snacks” as “snakes” and “hall” as “hole”. Similarly, another word is “zone” pronounced as “John”.

  1. Very little effort in learning the target language

Even though many spoken English classes have mushroomed in the city in recent years, the number of people using English is still small. This may be because most of the budding entrepreneurs think that they have to one day inherit their father’s business which does not need much English skills. Obviously, their own effort in learning English will be limited and half-hearted.

  1. Lack of interest in critical reading

It is common knowledge that reading boosts one’s language skills and vocabulary. However, on average, The people of Surat do not read much. In academic organisations, most students read, but do not inculcate the skill and habit of reading critically.  As a result, most people do not have enough words or structural competence to be able to use English in daily life.

The use of social media and the whole digital world also play a crucial role in linguistic incompetence. Today’s shortcut in writing on chat platforms like Whatsapp is equally responsible. For instance, “love” becomes “luv” and “we” become “v”. Moreover, there is a grammar checker and a spelling checker inbuilt in the phone or computer delivered, which decreases the need for a personal effort.

Similarly, memes and videos have taken a more important place than reading articles from a newspaper to check news or for entertainment. Moreover, today paper based work has become less common, and everything is usually read on mobiles or computers.

Spoken English in Surat

How can spoken English classes or IELTS classes in Surat help?

Gujaratis are one of the most intelligent people with excellent business skills. It is important for Surtis to realize that the English language has the lion’s share in scaling any business, because Surat is actually growing by leaps and bounds with international recognition. To acquire a good command of English in a short period of time, one can join a famous spoken English class or institute in Surat. A good language institute can help learners in the following ways:

  1. Good quality training in English conversations

People have to understand that to run a business smoothly one cannot blindly rely on a third person. When it comes to cracking a deal with an international body, it is important that one can interact with them in English. That is where a good spoken English class in Surat like FluentLingua can come into play. Good language coaching centres can not only provide good quality training in English speaking, but also enhance learners’ personality.

  1. Level-wise study for the learner

A good coaching institute of English aids an individual to know his level and face English language related challenges confidently. Moreover, they prepare courses as per the level of the learner.

These coaching institutes for English in Surat provide a curriculum that the learner can follow easily and in an interesting manner. They can help you to get over the aspects that you are lacking in. Some of them use tests to identify causes for learners’ inability to speak in English.

  1. Ease of registration for exams such as IELTS, PTE, or TOFEL?

The students of Surat are also very smart. There are ample opportunities in the US, Canada, Australia for students in the IT sector, Healthcare, Pharmacy, Engineering, Biomedical Sciences, Sustainable Infrastructure, Agricultural Sciences, Food Technology, Financial Services, Risk Management, Insurance, Hospitality, Tourism and so forth .

The students are very good in their field and just need a dash of English speaking skills in them. This can help them to clear their IELTS exam or other such exams of the respective countries. To ease the formalities, some top English coaching centers help the students to register for the IELTS or similar exams.

  1. Mock tests for better results

A good institute for IELTS coaching in Surat not only helps the students to learn English but also works as a mock test center. These mock tests equip learners to perform better in the actual test compared to those who prepare on their own. Such institutes make sure that the student clears the exam with flying colors. One such institute that I know of is Fluentlingua which is one of the best IELTS institutes in Surat because it is headed by Dr Dharmendra Sheth, a PhD holder in English and who has around 25 years of experience in teaching English and preparing students for study abroad.

Is English Coaching in Surat enough to increase the standard of verbal interactions in English?

The main question is: can just going to an institute teaching IELTS or spoken English change the face of English fluency in Surat? Well, that can’t be the only step, but yes, it can surely be a good one in that direction. These are some other strides that  pave the way for better English conversations:

  1. Catch them young

Schools should give importance to the English language as schools prepare the foundation for students’ knowledge, skill, and career. Therefore, they  should provide English speaking facilities. On top of it, they should give practical English language due importance in their syllabus rather than just theoretical.

There should be special classes for Spoken English introduced in the vernacular medium schools. These schools should arrange extra lectures for conversational practice. English is and will be a confidence booster in their personality and make them job ready or work ready, not only in their city or country, but around the world.

Even the government should put special emphasis on the effective teaching of the English language in schools and colleges. This will help the new generation to overcome this shortcoming.

  1. Creating Awareness about importance of English

There should be awareness campaigns for the importance of the English language. These campaigns should involve parents and the people of Surat at large. People should be made aware of the usefulness of the English Language for their wards’ professional career.

Parents should be educated regarding the importance of English speaking in their day to day lives to remove fear and inhibitions in the minds of budding English speakers. This will go a long way to help youths speak English fearlessly.

Hope you liked the blog. Please provide your valuable feedback in the comments section below.

Happy Learning!

Spoken English in Surat blog writer Sylvester Alvares

Sylvester Alvares

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