The Happiness Side-Effect

The Happiness Side-EffectThere are several topics that hold a special place in my attention. Happiness is one of them. Most people don’t realize how sensitive we are to so many things that nudge our happiness up or down. For example, something as basic as the amount of sleep you get has a huge impact on how happy you are. Sleep gives your body time to balance out your body and brain chemistry. Sleep helps you recover from a stressful day. And sleep replenishes the energy system of your body. When you don’t get enough sleep, there is a cascade effect and your body begins to suffer for it.

Your diet is another thing that affects your level of happiness. Eating healthy foods helps you to maintain your brain and body chemistry, which includes those wonderful feel-good chemicals. Drinking a little coffee or sodas that are high in caffeine every day can help give you a little burst of energy and make you feel alert. Drinking too much caffeine stresses your adrenal glands and leads to feeling fatigued, anxious, and irritable. It also may cause mood swings, depression and frequent headaches. Prolonged use of caffeine can lead to adrenal exhaustion which causes your glands to work harder to pump adrenalin into your system, except there’s nothing left in the tank. Over time, you’ll feel constantly tired and in a low-energy state. You’ll also notice that your mood just isn’t as up as it used to be. I discovered this for myself when I did something that people do every day. However, for me, there was a surprising side-effect.

Happiness Monster

Several weeks ago, I had some interesting experiences with energy drinks, specifically, the Monster brand. Normally, when I drink an energy drink I usually don’t feel any boost in energy. But recently, I’ve gone from being a big coffee drinker to drinking almost no coffee. So when I drank a Monster energy drink, I actually felt a surge in energy. It wasn’t explosive energy, but just a big boost that I’ve never gotten before, probably due to my high caffeine intake.

However, this time, there was a side-effect that took me by surprise; I felt happier. I knew it was caused specifically by the energy drink because no other variable had changed in my life. My low-carb diet hadn’t changed, I hadn’t been drinking coffee in the mornings, and I wasn’t getting any more sleep than usual. But to be sure, I drank a couple more on other days and each time, I felt a surge in happiness and focus along with a boost in energy. I also discovered that if you drink energy drinks more than a few days in a row, the effect starts to be less noticeable.

Is Your Diet To Blame For Your Mood Swings?

It’s really important to emphasize what this could mean to us all. As we age, it’s not uncommon for our lives to get busier and for our active lives to become more sedentary. Over time, our eating habits change too. Maybe we’re busier and we start getting less sleep. We start to feel more sluggish in the mornings so coffee gets us jump-started. Also, since we’re always on the go, we don’t always have time to eat a proper diet that supports our energy and health needs. One thing piles up on another and slowly, over many years, our energy slumps more and more. We lose the sharp focus we used to have. And some of the color seems to drain out of life.

My diet is pretty good, but until recently, I haven’t always gotten enough sleep because I don’t make it a priority. And I usually drink a lot of coffee but now caffeine is mostly out of my system. So feeling a burst of energy after drinking the Monster energy drink wasn’t a surprise. But the happiness was. Have I been dumbing-down my feel-good chemicals with my high caffeine intake and not allowing them to work as they should? Are you doing the same? Perhaps you’re mildly depressed most of the time. Maybe you’re anxious and don’t have a lot of focus. Have you ever wondered why you feel down-in-the-dumps when you don’t really have an obvious reason?

I think it’s worth considering the possibility that your diet isn’t doing your mood any favors. In fact, as I learn more about the delicate balance food plays in our sense of well-being, I’m more and more convinced that happiness is often elusive because of our poor diets. Do you drink a lot of caffeine? I’m not suggesting that you stop drinking coffee altogether, but if you’re down-in-the-dumps even though you don’t feel like you have a reason to be, coffee could be partly to blame.

Boost YOUR Happiness

Short of radically changing your diet and eating only the healthiest foods available, there are a couple things you can try to boost your happiness. First, you can give up coffee for a week or two, then drink an energy drink and see if you notice a difference. Another thing you can try is simply getting enough sleep. But if you combine going caffeine-free with getting enough sleep, I suspect that you can boost your happiness. But if you eat a lot of junk food, even getting more sleep and reducing your caffeine intake may not be enough. Either way, if you start making small changes like cutting back on caffeine, reducing your intake of refined sugar, getting more sleep and even adding exercise to your lifestyle, your happiness is sure to rise. Why not give it a try? After all, what have you go to lose but your bad mood?



  1. A warning about caffeine withdrawal: IF you are currently a regular or heavy caffeine drinker, wean off the stuff, don’t go cold turkey. Your body is most likely habituated to its daily caffeine intake and stopping abruptly will cause terrible headaches among other unpleasant symptoms.

  2. Hey there,

    I found your article through a google search as I was pondering the effects energy drinks have on me.

    I’m a games development student and I regularly intake massive amounts of caffiene to get myself through the nights. Monster? Rockstar? Relentless? You name it, I’ll have it!

    I’ve experienced what it’s like to simply stop taking caffiene. Headaches, yep. Feeling overly tired all the time despite having had enough sleep? Yep. Feeling terrible and unhappy? Yep. Bad fatigue and painful joints? Yep.

    Would I stop drinking energy drinks? No! Not unless I really had to.

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