Day 9 – The Science of Happiness

Every time you have a sexual climax, whether real or through fantasy, your body releases a flood of neurotransmitters and hormones meant to reinforce the pleasurable behavior so you will repeat it in the future. Though these are naturally produced, they are highly addictive. Some of these are:

Dopamine — often referred to as “the pleasure” hormone. Dopamine is highly addictive, as your body creates a strong association with whatever you were doing when it was released, creating a neural pathway that increases your propensity to repeat that behavior.

Oxytocin — this hormone is associated with a feeling of closeness, and while meant to form a strong bond between husband and wife, can just as easily bond you to an image on a screen. Oxytocin also counteracts cortisol, one of the main stress hormones—which is a reason people are more susceptible to temptation when under stress.

Serotonin — helps regulate mood, strongly associated with feelings of peace, hopefulness, and happiness. It also helps counteract feelings of depression and hopelessness, common among those using porn.

Endorphins — help to reduce feelings of pain and enhance feelings of pleasure within the body, also have an effect on anxiety levels, body composition, alleviating stress, and regulating appetite

This quartet of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins are what are commonly referred to as the “happiness hormones” as they are strongly correlated with one’s overall sense of satisfaction and well-being. There is a great deal of research that shows that as these hormone levels go down, depression becomes more and more common, and that as these hormone levels increase, depression tends to be alleviated. 

Is it any wonder we turn to our addictive tendencies when we are feeling low? Our addictions are essentially the shortcuts we have learned to getting our needs for these “happiness hormones” met. But there is a catch, and you already know what it is. The relief our addictions provide is only temporary. Eventually, even after experiencing the temporary high that comes with giving into temptation, we are left wallowing in shame and are worse off than we were before.

To become a person who is healthy and no longer needs to look at porn, we must find other, healthy ways to get our needs met. Thankfully, we are not left without options. This is not a comprehensive list, but it is a start in the right direction:

    1. Make exercise a priority. Consistent exercise is shown to increase all of these hormones in your body over time. Even a quick set of squats or pushups can give you a little high that helps you in a moment of temptation. 
    2. Make adjustments to your diet. Certain foods have been shown to have a positive effect on dopamine levels, notably, healthy fats, lean proteins, and many fruits. 
    3. Pursue real friendship with others. Addiction (and depression) thrive in isolation. Research shows that genuine connection with others, even in a non-romantic nature, increases serotonin and oxytocin levels. Research also shows that as social interaction goes up, porn use goes down. 
    4. Find some exciting activities. Whether it is mountain biking, playing a sport or games, hiking, or any other activity, having some level of adventure in your life will help your body release dopamine, plus it cuts down on boredom, which is a trigger for many people. 
    5. Spend a minimum of 15-20 mins outdoors each day. This helps your serotonin levels, which boosts your overall mood (and your ability to sleep), and reduces the pull to look at porn or give into an addiction. 

If you want more information on practical and healthy ways to increase these hormones, please reference the following links:

How to Increase Dopamine

How to Increase Serotonin

How to Increase Oxytocin

How to Increase Endorphins

A fair warning—these articles are not written from a Christian worldview and therefore take a secular view of sexuality. Please note that we believe God’s heart and intent is that sex should only be engaged in between a husband and wife within the covenant of marriage. Even with that in mind, even if you are single or don’t have a spouse, we believe you will find the rest of the information in these articles helpful, which is why we are providing them to you. Reading through them will give you many more ideas of healthy habits you can add to your life which will increase your levels of “happiness hormones” in healthy, God-honoring ways rather than doing do through continued use of pornography, which is unhealthy and destructive. 

Each time you refrain from unhealthy ways of getting your needs met and opt for healthy ways instead, you take one step closer to becoming a person who doesn’t need porn—or whatever other unhealthy habit you have come to rely on. 


Day 9 Freedom Work

Scripture Reading — Read 1 Corinthians 6 several times slowly, taking notes of what Paul instructs about your body and your sexuality

Journaling Exercises — Answer the following questions at length in your journal. Aim to write for about 5-7 minutes per question:

  • What are some very practical ways you can respond to what your body needs in a given moment, rather than resorting to your addiction? How would having an awareness of what is driving your addiction—which is not actually sex—cause you to think about it differently?
  • In addition to prayer, leaning into God’s Spirit, and His Word, what healthy habits could you effectively “put on speed dial” that you could resort to during a moment of temptation? How might this help you to not only flee sexual immorality, but also to flee toward something God has provided as a healthy alternative?

Prayer Holy Spirit, I recognize that you have made me with a spirit, soul, and body—and that I have needs on all of these levels that are not wrong. Help me, in moments of temptation, to understand what is really going on—and to find healthy ways to get my needs met. May I learn to rest in your love rather than pursuing the false love that porn offers. May my mind be renewed to see everyone as a whole person—spirit, soul, and body—so that I will not lust after them but honor them as one made in your image. And may you also help me to be more in touch with the physical needs of my body—a body you say is fearfully and wonderfully made—and to find healthy ways of getting my physical needs met that honor you and others. Amen.

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Dr. Joseph Serwadda's Story

Over the past decade, numerous pastors and leaders from all over the world have been crying out (and even begging us) for discipleship resources in their language. This may sound extreme, but in America we have an abundance of books and resources that are available to us that are often taken for granted. In many ways, we have access to excess.

In some developing nations, people have never seen a book in their language. When leaders from these nations are given a book, they treat it as sacred gift! They even hand-write books and Bibles word for word so that they can spread this message of hope to others in their sphere of influence.

Dr. Joseph Serwadda, a leader from Uganda who oversees a group of churches that number approximately 27,000, echoes this need among pastors and leaders all over the world: “Our biggest need is not money or bigger buildings, but solid teaching. We lack literature for people to read and study on their own. The more people we have in church who are less instructed in the Word of God, the less solidity we have. Come and help us preserve the harvest. This is a Macedonian call!”

Pastor Yassir's Story

Over the years, Cubans have long suffered under the oppression of a single message: communism. Despite this challenge, Yassir is committed to sharing a new message with his people, a message of transformation that can lead to national revival.

Cubans, in general, have been conditioned toward communistic consumption. That’s why Yassir wants his people to embrace a new identity: a life defined by what they can give. This shift requires growth and maturity that can only come through a new perspective.

He explained, “The Cuban church is strong and filled with passion. But I believe it’s important that we shift our mentality. We need to see how the Gospel goes beyond our own needs. Ultimately, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our nation, and not just wait for outside intervention.”

There aren’t many Christian resources in Cuba. So, Pastor Yassir’s church, along with many other churches throughout Cuba, have been profoundly impacted by the resources Messenger International has provided for them in their own language.

In our conversations with Pastor Yassir, he often cited an ancient proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ve fed him for a lifetime. He sees MessengerX as a tool both to feed his people and teach them to fish.

It’s become evident that after many years in our ministry, the most effective way to transform a village or town is not to construct a church building. This just keeps the local leadership dependent on us.

We are much more effective if we give the indigenous leaders such as Pastor Yassir spiritual knowledge that will empower them to influence their village, town, or city. Such knowledge helps produce the faith needed to grow and sustain the work, which, if necessary, will include buildings and other resources.

Stories like Pastor Yassir’s fuel our mission, because we believe that everyone deserves to know life-transforming truth!

Nura's Story

Before Nura became a follower of Christ, her life was a living hell.
After the death of her husband—from whom she endured many years of abuse and suffering—she became a widow with four children. In search of peace and inner healing, she sought solace in religious places and practices, which only led her deeper into depression and financial debt.

Her last resort was Jesus.

“I came to the Christian church and begged for help! I accepted Christ after I heard of the promise of peace and healing that is found in Him,” Nura wrote. “I slowly began to recover, but there was one thing hindering my healing—unforgiveness.”
Filled with regrets, Nura struggled to forgive her husband. But the grip of offense began to weaken when her pastor handed her a copy of The Bait of Satan.

“I forgave my husband after I learned how much I, too, needed forgiveness,” shared Nura. “Now I am healed, and I have peace for the first time in my life. Some even say I look ten years younger!”


Pastor Raphael's Story

Pastor Raphael was raised in Kenya, immersed in a culture of darkness. As a child, he lacked affection because his father believed that strong men don’t show love. He continually witnessed his father beat and belittle his mother. Everywhere he looked, insidious behavior was practiced toward women and infants—families were being destroyed and lives were ending before they had a chance to begin.

This was the destiny Raphael was headed toward.

But everything changed when truth entered the scene. The first area to be transformed was Raphael’s heart—which, in turn, transformed his marriage and his family. And with a strong and healthy family, his whole outlook toward life has changed.

“Through the resources of Messenger International, a relentless passion was ignited in me to see the people of my country free from lies,” shared Raphael. “I discovered my purpose to train up others and bring God’s transforming truth to remote villages.”

Raphael has trekked miles through mud and rain to reach people, often rising early and returning late. He would travel over 50 miles a day with his bicycle—but through the generosity of the MessengerX community, he was given a motorcycle, which has enabled him to double his efforts while easily transporting the resources and supplies he needs to facilitate his classes. Raphael has seen over 200 of his students graduate in the villages he serves.

“Thank you for investing in my people,” expressed Raphael. “Each day tribal warriors are transformed into children of God, marriages are infused with love, and the innocent are protected. Your generosity has given us the tools we need to rewrite our story and reclaim our humanity.”

Dahlia's Story

Formerly a Muslim, Dahlia fled to Turkey after she was expelled from her Iranian school and excommunicated by her family. Her crime? Becoming a Christian.

You can now find Dahlia in a refugee camp, far from what she once called home. But despite the upheaval, she has found purpose in her pain. On a daily basis, Dahlia walks through her makeshift town and prays over the people. They have become her people—the audience of her message.

Dahlia has become a messenger, and she is often spotted lovingly serving those around her and sharing her faith with them. Despite language barriers, people are drawn to her because they see something different in her. And what’s amazing is that she’s not only reaching the people in her refugee camp, she’s also impacting those she left behind in Iran.

“I’ve had calls from Iran,” writes Dahlia. “People who mocked me because of my faith now believe in Jesus and want to know more. So, I tell them about MessengerX, which has a lot of translated discipleship resources.”

As we continue to provide people like Dahlia with life-transforming truth in their own language, we’re helping them grow in their faith and discover their purpose—and we’re equipping them to make a difference in their world.

“I am beyond thankful for all of the books that I’ve been able to read in my language, such as Driven by Eternity, translated in Farsi,” shared Dahlia. “I read them again and again. The messages keep me company in this lonely season, and they inspire me to reveal Jesus to the hurting people all around me.”