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The science of joy is the meeting place of epigenetics, brain/neuroplasticity and our happy biochemical  hormones, neurotransmitters, a.k.a. information substances.

The emotion of joy cannot be forced or relentlessly searched for in the external world. It is an inside ‘job’, allowing the emotion and physical sensation of joy simply to open up within us, where it resides eternally, waiting patiently for us to open our hearts to it with ease and grace.

The mind has complete influence over the body. We have to choose every moment to change our minds from health-harming thoughts to health-enhancing ones, moving from the subconscious mind with past programming based on past experiences, to the superconscious mind with higher awareness to guide and govern our lives and cellular expression. It becomes clear that what we think could possibly make us sick or well, happy, loving and joyful, or unhappy, angry and resentful.


A short recap of neuropeptides

Candace Pert was a neuroscientist who did extensive research on neuropeptides over many years. She was the first to call them the ‘molecules of emotions’. Pert originally identified the opium receptor sites on cell membranes inside the brain, for endorphins, back in 1972. She realised that if morphine works as a pain killer, there had to be a similar molecule inside the human body, otherwise morphine wouldn’t have had a specific receptor to bind to for its pain-killing effect.

Endorphin was this molecule! The receptor sites for the peptide endorphin were first identified in the brain, hence the name neuropeptide. We now know that peptide receptors are found throughout the body and they’re now known as peptides or informational substances.

The network or matrix like a spider’s web information highway, spreading molecules of emotions into every one of our 50 trillion cells via lymph, cardiovascular and nervous system, send frequencies extending even beyond it into the world around us.

The complicated and complex communication network between cells, neurotransmitters, peptides, hormones, immune system, blood and nerves demands a remarkable orchestration of effective communication and integration of form and function for the body-mind to work as one healthy, balanced and integrated whole.

Epigenetics recap

The moment you change your perception, is the moment you rewrite the chemistry of your body!” – Bruce Lipton, who put the practical application of epigenetics on the map. Refer to his book, Biology of Belief and follow-up publications.

Let’s consider epigenetics for a moment to better understand how our emotions impact every one of our 50 trillion cells. We are not the victims of our genes, our DNA or the ‘sins’ of our forefathers! 

Epigenetics: ‘Epi’ means ‘above’ or ‘more important than’ the genetic information encoded in the DNA.The field of epigenetics is showing us that the cell membrane and its receptor binding sites supersede the genetic code and can restore cell function, even if they are genetic in origin. The environment of the cell is ultimately responsible for the efficacy of cell function through selective binding to receptors.               

The cell environment includes nutrients, oxygen, water, the vibrations of thoughts and emotions via the molecules of emotion (peptides or informational substances) and ultimately our sense of our soul connection to our Source or Inner Being, to encourage a higher vibration of molecules binding to receptors on cell membranes.

Understanding this will help us know that we’re not helpless victims of our genetic heritage but powerful beings who can take charge of our own health and wellbeing by changing the environment of the cell to ensure correct and effective messages enter through the cell membrane, right into the nucleus and DNA, where transcription for protein synthesis and ultimately, cell functions, take place.

It is a decision to CHOOSE to change your inner and outer life through improved health-enhancing behaviour. Chronic illness, when regarded as a health challenge, is often the first prompt to search for deeper meaning, realising what is important in life and then making the necessary adaptations for a healthier lifestyle.

Genetics do play a part in illness by determining the physical weak links, that is, the physical system where it will manifest first by way of symptoms, such as ongoing increased blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, or weight gain. If you take care of the epigenetic environment, however, the genetic expression can and will be changed or never even expressed.

Stop whenever you feel overwhelmed and say to yourself:

I breathe. I turn up the corners of my lips in a small smile. I breathe. I smile in my heart. I breathe. I smile in my liver. I breathe and share this smile with the world.” Feel the immediate shift to joy in mind and body.

The science and nature of joy

Research studies based on the science of joy abound. All conclude how feeling joy and its closest vibratory feelings, benevolent love, hope and kindness, inner happiness and even moments of bliss, support and enhance our healthy brains, hearts, immune systems and sense of inner peace, calm and deep feelings of wellbeing. Feeling joy is great for a healthy soul, mind and body! Feeling more joy promotes healthier lifestyles in general.

Expressing joy through a specific, deeply felt way of smiling that reflects in your eyes elicits an effect in others who sense it through a feeling of momentary gladness in them, even when you walk by in passing. This way of smiling is called the Duchenne smile, an involuntary, genuine smile that reaches our eyes. Research has shown that it is associated with an improvement in physical health through specific measurable markers, better recovery from illness and surgery, as well as stronger bonds with others. Feeling joy has positive effects on breathing, making it deeper and slower and easier to increase the flow of oxygen and release of carbon dioxide throughout our cells.

Our way of engaging with others improves, as does our increased movement and mental preparedness to face and talk about life’s challenges – the ability to move through the clouds of discontent, grief, sadness, anger and resentment – to the light that is always there inside us all, simply waiting for us patiently to acknowledge and access it.

Joy improves our mood. The feeling triggers pleasure-related hot spots in the brain, which are then distributed through the whole brain and central nervous system, rippling out to the heart, immune system and whole body through the biochemical messenger molecules, neurotransmitters, hormones and informational substances.

Neurotransmitter informational substance transfer along nerves and synapses. 


The capacity for joy within us all, regardless of anyone or anything outside of us, connects to the higher frequencies of the field of infinite possibilities, our source of wellbeing, available to us all.

Joy is an inherited capacity in some people, but we are all able to learn how to harness this feeling which might seem elusive and difficult, but it is not! There are some simple ways we can all learn and practice to implement in our daily lives, which I have broken down into 3 steps.

Pathways to Joy

  1. Food

Sharing food can spark joy. This psychological nourishment elicits the highest level of wellbeing.

The right choices of food also support our physical body and all our cells.

Preparing food and eating it together with family or friends will stimulate joy, as will eating out or organising a dinner or sundowner cocktail party.

2. Physical activity

The joy of movement is a well-known fact. For example free dancing to harmonious, uplifting music or a mindful jog or walk in nature will do it, not only with others, but also alone or with your dog.

Tune in: The Movement and Sound of Joy

Fun, laughter, moving the body – dance, play, be sociable. Change your daily routine. All these are joyful neuroplastic ability enhancers – keys to brain plasticity and health-enhancing emotions.

  1. Writing, feeling blessed and grateful

Write down how you feel using the Emotional Positioning System (EPS) – refer pg ____

Write about intense positive feelings or think of a memory where you felt them, including things, events or people you are deeply grateful for and blessed by.

Feel all your emotions, including fear, worry, anger, sadness and boredom. Then choose to balance them with joy, realising emotions are fleeting if they are sensed and not suppressed or repressed but allowed free expression into transformation, using the placebo effect of joy, love and hope rather than the nocebo effect of expecting the worst, thereby increasing the chance of actually creating the imaginary worst-case scenario. Refer Dr. Joe Dispenza, Bruce Lipton and Gregg Braden’s extensive work on this.


‘In stillness and in quiet listening, I can hear the hymns of gratitude the world is singing underneath the sounds of fear’ – A Course in Miracles

Our souls want us to joyfully dance, whoop and holler. Music and harmony integrate the two hemispheres of the brain, allowing us to bypass the logical loops in our brains.

What a joy it has been to write this article, meaning and feeling every word in the marrow of my beingness.

Find the joy in the simple moments and let happiness be your compass in life. Benevolent hope, love and kindness increase your joy chemicals as you share them with the world around you, a thousand times!


From Higher Mind to Pineal Gland (inside the brain) to the electromagnetic crystalline torus field of the Heart and whole body in a spiral running up and down through the spine along the major chakras and endocrine glands, into the earth and back, symbolised by the Staff of Hermes, the double helix caduceus of healing, symbolising in turn our DNA strands, extending through the field to others.

Dr Arien van der Merwe

Dr Arien van der Merwe

Medical doctor, author & holistic health counsellor

Dr Arien van der Merwe is a medical doctor, author and holistic health counsellor. She developed and presents continued professional development training through VideoLearn and Synergetica CPD Courses on Mental Health in Challenging Uncertain Times; Heart Health; Inflammation both Friend and Foe and Neuroplasticity.

Dr Arien teaches group and individual meditation and relaxation classes, as well as health coaching online (WhatsApp video consultations) and at her rooms in Pretoria. More info: https://www.DrArien.co.za 

Anri Van Rooyen

Anri Van Rooyen

Holistic health counsellor

Anri van Rooyen is a Holistic Health Counsellor and Co-Director of Ariani Health Solutions and The Weight Control Clinic.

To contact Anri email: [email protected] 


Arien van der Merwe

Dr Arien van der Merwe is a medical doctor, author and holistic health counsellor. She developed and presents continued professional development training through VideoLearn and Synergetica CPD Courses on Mental Health in Challenging Uncertain Times; Heart Health; Inflammation both Friend and Foe and Neuroplasticity. These online CPD Courses explore ways to support both ourselves, our nearest and dearest, as well as our clients/patients.

Dr Arien is the author of Stress Solutions, the ‘Relax & Unwind’ relaxation CD as well as the books Health & Happiness, Managing Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome and Herbal Remedies. Dr Arien teaches group and individual meditation and relaxation classes, as well as health coaching online (WhatsApp video consultations) and at her rooms in Pretoria.