Your Daily Dose Of The Strongest Antidepressant

The Party Scientist
5 min readJan 16, 2024

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The crux of this article is this. Remember this equation.

Joy X Connection = Antidepressant

This doesn’t mean shared sorrow, grief, and vulnerability are unhealthy. However, joy has a different imprint on the body. When joy is shared, the dose is maximized and neurotransmitters flood through the body, reducing stress and promoting healing.

Joy has a look: smiling, laughing, singing, dancing, or simply ‘jumping for joy.’ In western culture, most joy is activated through the intellect — that is, through conversation. But as I’ll explain here, this isn’t my highest recommendation.

So. I have a question for you.

Are you getting your daily dose of shared joy?

In your quest to optimize your well-being and health, shared joy must be taken more seriously. In fact, if we consider the research, it should be just as much a priority as physical exercise.

According to the largest meta-analysis on the topic — “the influence of social relationships on the risk of death is comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality such as smoking and alcohol consumption and exceed the influence of other risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity.”

This research recommends we prioritize social contact more. But it doesn’t take into account the fact that not all forms of social contact are equally healthy. The social contact I am recommending is characterized by the exchange of joy through touch, eye contact, and expression.

What is optimal social contact?

Most social contact doesn’t involve a lot of joy. If it does, it’s typically limited to conversation-mediated joy. So let me present to you the spectrum of shared joy, from lowest to highest joy. Here are examples.

  1. You’re eating alone at a restaurant and people around you are laughing.
  2. You’re with one other person at a restaurant and you’re laughing together.
  3. You’re in a bar with some friends, and all of you are laughing together, while sitting and drinking at a table.
  4. You’re at a wedding, in a big huddle, and everyone is laughing together to the same thing.
  5. You’re at a wedding, in a big huddle, and everyone is singing a song at the top of their lungs.
  6. You’re at an adult summer camp and everyone is playing a game together. There’s music, movement, and physical contact!

The nervous system operates in communication with other nervous systems. This means that the more human bodies there are around you feeling joy, the greater your joy will be.

This explains why laughter yoga is so effective. The laughter spreads from human to human around the room, until everyone is laughing.

The first situation illustrates that we can experience shared joy just by being in proximity to others. Situation #4 shows that when a crowd unites, the shared joy intensifies. #5 shows that when we stop using our intellect through conversation, joy can be greater. Finally, #6 demonstrates the ultimate shared joy dose.

Play and dance. They incorporate movement, music, eye contact, physical touch, and non-intellectual connection — it’s all about joy. No conversation needed!

When everyone at the gathering is dancing and playing in unison, the effect is multiplied. When a group is united, it increases the safety for people to really let go and express more emotion.

What’s the daily dose, then?

I hereby prescribe you a 20-min dose of playing and dancing in a group, for your optimal psychological and physical health.

Eye contact, physical contact, and music will improve make the dose more effective.

How about your practice, Jacques?

The irony of my life is that I don’t get the daily dose. Even though I am The Party Scientist, and I’m the one spreading the message that sharing joy is the greatest antidepressant, I likely need to swallow my own advice more often.

Right now, my ‘shared joy practice’ looks like this.

Weekly, I set up speakers in a public space and I get hundreds of strangers uniting and dancing. The thrill of getting all sorts of people, of all sorts of ages and backgrounds, dancing and playing games together kicks my joy to the highest level.

Because I am leading the party, I can also guide the joy so that it is maximally shared. I can unite the group and get everyone to do things in unison.

Why won’t you and I do this?

  1. You don’t have time to find a group (me too)
  2. It is not appropriate to play as an adult.
  3. You are skeptical of the health benefits of shared joy.
  4. You don’t know how to dance or play.

For me, it’s a logistical problem. There are no classes like this out there. The closest I’ve found is a dance class where there is a focus on human connection. Thank you Pearl Cicci!

I also led my own class for 4 months at a parkour gym, but that was only on a monthly basis. I’ve struggled to find a place & community to get my daily dose.

This is the irony of the status quo — there’s a bunch wellness & fitness classes out there, but they are far inferior than what I’ve described above, in terms of the extent of the antidepressant effect. The practice with the greatest effect has yet to be invented… I call it vyving.

Let me know how you (will) get your daily or weekly dose in the comments.

Final Recommendation

Work your way up the spectrum of shared joy.

Start with positive social contact with people who make you laugh. Then work your way up to singing, dancing, and playing in groups.

If you’re feeling thankful, could you like or comment this article? What wisdom do you have to share with other readers? We’d love to hear your additions.

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Thanks for spreading healthier human connections 🧠

— Jacques

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The Party Scientist

Human Connection & Belonging Strategist | Professor of Shared Joy | I help leaders reinvent how they connect their people and build community