Kritajnata: Gratitude and Appreciation vis-à-vis Dopamine and Serotonin

Why do people work so hard? Why do they earn all the money exhausting every ounce of energy within? Why do they pursue a path mired with stress, strain, pain, and discontent? Did you say happiness? If so, what is happiness? Are they Emotions? Of course, happiness is an emotion. From where do these emotions emanate from? Thoughts that stimulate such emotions stem from words; not just any words but words of appreciation; one that provides a sense of gratitude. It is the expectation to receive such words that most people do what they do. The expectation is the key. It is the sum of the essence of all the actions pursued by people.

Dr. Maheshwari Prabhu PT

Why do people work so hard? Why do they earn all the money exhausting every ounce of energy within? Why do they pursue a path mired with stress, strain, pain, and discontent? Did you say happiness? If so, what is happiness? Are they Emotions? Of course, happiness is an emotion. From where do these emotions emanate from? Thoughts that stimulate such emotions stem from words; not just any words but words of appreciation; one that provides a sense of gratitude. It is the expectation to receive such words that most people do what they do. The expectation is the key. It is the sum of the essence of all the actions pursued by people.

One of the oft-quoted, or rather misquoted, lines from the Bhagavad Gita reads “Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana…”  it is frequently mistranslated as “You have no right to expect…” The better translation would be “It is easier to live without expectations…”

Living without expectations is as good as living without desires. But this is easier said than done. Those who live without desires are often defined in the Vedic texts as Rishis, Rishikas, Yogis, Yogini, Muni and the like.

Not all can be such exalted beings. A great many will always be mired in some sort of mundane tasks. So, is it right to suggest that the teachings of Vedic sages are not for them? Quite the contrary. While the Vedic text does provide a basis for enlightened living, they also provide subtle ways for everyone to pursue a life of bliss while seeking a contemporary life.

And this is best done by pursuing emotions in a way as to create a cohesive environment within one’s mind, one’s family, work and even the world at large. The emphasis of Vedic classics such as Shringara Shataka of Bhartrihari, Manu Smriti and, even, Arthashastra is to find harmony while living in a world of contradictions, confusion, and chaos.

In medical terms, happiness is best understood as a subtle chemical process involving two chemical substances, namely: Dopamine and Serotonin. Either of them is produced in the hypothalamus which is a part of the central nervous system. They are known as neural transmitters whose core objective is to transmit signals from the central nervous system to the rest of the body. They are both known as “happy hormones” because they make our body to feel happiness.

It is important to note that while bodily movements and exercises have significant effects in producing the dopamine, it has been conclusively proven through various medical studies that words of appreciation yielding feelings of gratitude have a higher ability to induce such “happy hormones.”

Interestingly, Vedic texts for thousands of years have emphasized greatly on having feelings of gratitude and contentment within before seeking anything, outside. What it also translates to is the fact that if we are not able to identify the resources we have within our minds and outside of our body how are we to capitalize on the opportunities? It is only when we can see what we have and are grateful for them that we are able to exploit opportunities for our benefits. Besides, emotions of gratitude also help us in finding the quintessential element – peace of mind. It is only when the mind is at peace can we be able to see things for what they are.

According to Rishis and Rishikas, there are neither opportunities nor threats, only situations. Opportunities or threats are simply interpretations of the mind. A mind that is at peace sees opportunities in threats whereas a mind that is without peace perceives a threat in every opportunity.

Unless we have achieved that peace within and without, there exists no scope for our success the way we intend to have. To achieve success, we also need support, assistance or inputs from other individuals. Their cooperation is better achieved through words of appreciation, which in turn induces a sense of gratitude – harnessing emotions that lead to better working conditions. Here success is shared and enlarged. Happiness is not a mirage, but that crucial component that can enable us to achieve our goals with limited or no hurdles. This is verily the essence of the concept of Kritajnata.

November 25, 2019

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