Think you need the spouse in shining armour to be happy? Not so, says a recent study out of the University of California, Davis.
What we equate with ‘happily ever after’—that feeling we think only comes in long-term committed relationships, is actually a steady release of oxytocin. And while couples who have been together longer than six months were reported to have steady doses of the feel-good hormone, couple-dom isn’t the only way to find that sweet spot.
Researchers found that oxytocin is released when we feel gratitude, love, and kindness. What’s more, they found, people can build their life in such a way, that they create perfect scenarios for their own happy ending with or without a romantic partner.
The trick they found centred on gratitude—an emotion built from thankfulness, but which turned out to be the gateway to feelings of kindness and love. With a strong enough sense of gratitude every day, study participants also felt higher levels of love and kindness—and experienced surges in oxytocin.
Building a sense of gratitude in your everyday life can be as simple as keeping a journal each night, listing things you’re thankful for in your life, a practice shown to positively affect a person’s mood.
With enough gratitude, love, and kindness, you’ll find yourself in control of your own happily ever after and not waiting on another person to be that missing piece.