Serotonin is often referred to as the happy chemical because it is believed to play a key role in maintaining mood balance. Mainly found in the brain, bowels and blood platelets, serotonin is used to transmit messages between nerve cells but its crowning glory is that it is believed to contribute to wellbeing and happiness. 

It’s also believed that people with depression may have low levels of the neurotransmitter. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m getting too much. Increasing levels of the wonder chemical include diet, exercise, exposure to light, and mood induction.  Well, lets see; I exercise often outside and at the same time my now-overabundance of serotonin levels increase, making me want food. So I may have to cut back on the first three. 

Apparently playing in the dirt can boost your mood. A study has claimed soil microbes have been found to have similar effects on the brain as prozac, without the negative side effects. The study showed injections of soil bacteria produce serotonin (and happiness) in mice. In humans with lung cancer where the killed bacterium was injected, the patients reported better quality of life and less nausea and pain. The treatment has also been shown ease skin allergies. The results of the study also suggest merely walking a outside and inhaling the bacteria can give you a dose of happiness. I think I might spend more time in the garden this year. 

You know what could even be better than chemicals, dirt, exercise, diet or any other fandangle method? It’s when someone takes a minute out of his or her busy life to say hello, or good job, or just simply thanks. In the workplace, a 2016 Gallup poll revealed that only one in three workers in the U.S. strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days, a factor, the poll says, that directly impacts productivity, turnover rate and employee engagement. On a broader scale we can look to the annual HomeTown Chamber Banquet. Each year in March the board recognizes the doers and dreamers of the county. It’s a huge affair that sells out in days. 

Our county is brimming with fine people who deserve to be recognized. They may not always like it or may even feel embarrassed over the hoopla, but that’s ok. It’s a small token of appreciation, a show of gratitude, can it can make a huge difference in a person’s life. Thanks to all who were recognized during the annual HomeTown Chamber Award Banquet. Well, deserved winners in their own right!

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