I have often viewed that having a balanced perception, driven by some purpose, is the best way to navigate your life. A balanced view will always keep you in equilibrium, calm and composed, allowing you to be stable and thereby apply the best choices when it comes to taking decisions. Balance helps us to negotiate with the nuances of life. It is a great way to make your way through a variety of circumstances, keeping you from tilting or falling to any one side. A lot of the yogic sciences are focused on maintaining this delicate balance in the 4 domains of life- physical, intellectual, emotional and energy or spiritual levels.
Focus, or a purpose, on the other hand is enhanced attention or concentration to get you somewhere. Focus helps us to move towards a goal. It requires clarity, concentration and attention to detail. It is the innate ability of every individual to be able to focus on their desires, which is what the yearning for a full fledged life is all about. It is a constant desire for longing or seeking something which takes you towards it. Whether a person realizes this ability in one’s lifetime or whether it remains dormant is a choice which every individual takes. A state of realization has the ability to draw your attention towards that focus where you are driven by a purpose, and thereby gives you clarity and direction. It is a destination or a goal that can be dynamically evolving and enhancing with time. It can entail taking risks and willing to negotiate while trying to maintain balance. You are willing to learn or evolve to your higher self and be the best version of yourself as you move forward in life . One learns to maintain stability without loosing focus. So , balance and focus , though dynamically opposite , need to go hand in hand , to steer the ship of life. It is akin to a ship sailing in stormy weathers where the helmsman steers it by maintaining both balance as well as focus, so that it does not tilt to either side and still continues to move ahead.
Interestingly , our body and systems are loaded with apps or applications which can keep us happy, balanced, relaxed, focused and enriched with love. We just need to know how to download these apps and apply them in our day to day lives.
The first one is Serotonin, which is largely a ‘mood stabilizer’. Stabilizing our mood is one of the first steps of having a more balanced perspective of life. Serotonin helps us to relax and reduce the levels of stress which we unknowingly accumulate in our daily humdrum of life. It is a great leveler. Also known as 5 hydroxy tryptamine, it is an important neurotransmitter, predominantly produced in our gut and the central nervous system. We can greatly enhance serotonin levels by activities like meditation, nature walks, jogging, cycling , swimming and gardening. Apart from being a natural anti-depressant, serotonin levels also boost up our natural immune system. Serotonin is derived from the essential amino acid Tryptophan which can be found in high levels in foods such as eggs, soy protein, salmon, spinach, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.
The second important happy hormones are the endogenous Endorphins which generally are the natural pain relievers. We are naturally bestowed with these chemicals in our body, provided we know how to tap them. Pain by itself may not mean only physical pain, but can also be induced by psychological and emotional surges, which brings about the concept of total pain. Fortunately, there are activities which can enhance the release of our natural endorphins like gardening, exercising, watching a comedy, or even relishing a chocolate or enjoying a delectable dish.
The third happy hormone is Oxytocin or the love hormone. Activities like playing with your pet dog, hugging a close family member, playing with a baby or giving a compliment can cause a surge of this hormone. Oxytocin is produced by the hypothalamus and released by the posterior pituitary gland. It plays a major role in uterine contraction and during lactation in females, and is also present in males. Research has shown a major role of oxytocin related to human behavioural responses like love, empathy, trust and compassion.
Finally , the fourth happy hormone is Dopamine which is like a reward chemical. It is released when you feel accomplished about something. It could be a small task that you had planned and finally executed. Celebrating small wins, self care activities, treating yourself to a choice dish, listening to your favourite music or putting on your dancing shoes could all help in giving us the high of dopamine. Dopamine drives us to perform better. These ‘feel good hormones’ are a great way of boosting our lives. The best part is that they are freely available to all of us. We just need to know how to tap these potentials within us. More importantly, we don’t really need to pop a pill for it. Learning the art of tapping our happy hormones at all times, irrespective of the external circumstances needs immense focus and a continuous practice till it becomes our second nature. Once you acquire the skill, stress is no longer a word in your dictionary.
The beauty of life is about maintaining balance without losing your focus, and to be joyful, happy, calm and relaxed in the process. A motivated individual will never loose focus, and a calm individual will never loose balance. We need to bring about the best of both, to navigate through the highs and lows of life. So go ahead, identify your focus, be ready to handle the risks as they come, and soak into the beauty of balancing the ride of life. While focus is your destination, your balance is your journey. Make sure you keep your Happy Hormones at their optimum levels to make the best out of it. So, even if life throws lemons at you, you are sure to make the best lemonade out of it.
About the author: Dr. Neelakshi is a physician with more than 30 years experience , Professor of Medicine, Oncologist, Geriatrician and an advocate of healthy and active ageing .