Countless books have been written on the subject of happiness. Self-help guides, memoirs, neuroscientific investigations, newspaper columns, and expert talk shows discuss at length what it means to be happy and how to define happiness. The search for happiness is usually a matter of philosophical musings—nevertheless, we shouldn’t forget that we are made of flesh and blood. Although it may seem that “it’s all in our head,” it’s undeniable that our physical condition, our state of health, and the different processes that take place in our body have an impact on our outlook on life, how we feel, and, ultimately, how happy we are.
You’ve probably noticed how a common cold can make you moody and grumpy just because you’re not feeling your best, while a simple jog in the evening can relieve a day’s worth of stress. Physically active people tend to have more optimistic attitudes as their bodies regularly produce a healthy dose of “feel-good” hormones to keep them afloat.
And what’s another activity that is associated with the release of happiness hormones?
We tend to keep the discussion of our between-the-sheets activities behind closed doors, but having and wanting sex is absolutely healthy. Moreover, it’s an integral part of a healthy—and happy—life. Numerous studies have shown that regular sex contributes to an overall sense of well-being and life satisfaction. (Boost your testosterone naturally and have the best sex of your life.) In a series of experiments conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto, participants reported “experiences of affection” even a few hours after intimacy, while another study compared having sex once a week to getting a $50,000 raise.
Regular intimacy provides a host of benefits for your physical health—which, as mentioned, translates into a happier state of mind. Sex is known to strengthen your immune system, improve your sleep, and reduce your stress levels, along with your blood pressure, heart attack risk, and even prostate cancer risk. It’s a painkiller and it counts as exercise. (Don’t skip your workout, though: the more active you are, the better your sex is.)
An expert’s advice on improving your bedroom experience? Focus on the experience of rhythm during sex and the rhythms you’re sharing with your partner.
In his research paper, published in Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology, Northwestern University researcher Adam Safron argues that the reason why we enjoy sex so much is because of the rhythm, which heightens all the senses and aligns the body and the brain, similarly to what happens when we dance, jog, or do yoga. As you pay more attention to the experience itself, you lose your sense of self (in fact, you stop being self-conscious, which is a common culprit of bedroom troubles) and get more enjoyment and satisfaction as a result. (Amazing “miracle molecule” doubles blood circulation.)
“Intensely focusing on immediate sensations—such as those produced by rhythmic stimulation—is likely to reduce the amount of mental capacity available for other things,” Safron explained.
With the arrival of old age, we tend to dismiss the importance of sex, but there’s a special place for sex in the lives of the elderly. It keeps you healthy, it brings you and your partner together, and it makes you happy—sounds like a good recipe for an enjoyable life.