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Is Happiness Just a Sip Away?

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Howard Bloom

What started as a marketing gimmick may have revealed something important about your happiness. 

True Lemon is a product created in Baltimore in 2003 to put the flavor of a lemon slice into a powder that you can pour into your drink.  True Lemon is what its creator, David Schleider, calls a “water enhancer.” 

To get publicity for True Lemon, the company’s executive vice president of marketing hired a public opinion company called OnePoll to do a survey on whether a drink of water increases your happiness. A totally unlikely idea.

But OnePoll surveyed 2,000 American adults and found “that the average person experiences 57 ‘little things’ that bring them happiness each week.”  

According to Studyfinds.org, the website that brought this survey to the light, that means you and I have roughly eight small minutes of happiness each day.  

One of those happy little things, according to 36% of the folks responding to the poll, is drinking enough water. 

But there’s more.  Since 1945, the medical community has recommended that you drink eight glasses of water a day.  And the True Lemon poll found that, “Among those who gulped down 10 or more glasses a day, 80% said it was very important to find joy in the small things.” 

In other words, 80% of those who drank a lot of water focused on finding tiny joys.  But the percentage of water scrooges, folks who drank “less than one glass” of water a day, who thought it was important “to find joy in the small things” was nearly half what it was for heavy water drinkers. 

What’s more, twice as many of the heavy water drinkers reported that they were “very happy” as the water Scrooges did. 

On top of all that, a whopping 70% of the heavy water drinkers thought of themselves as glass half full types, while 78% of the water Scrooges apparently saw themselves as glass half empty. 

But are the results uncovered by this poll for real?  Is the poll just a clever way of putting True Lemon’s “water enhancer” on your radar and mine?  Or can drinking water really make you happier? 

The answer to the happiness question appears to be yes, water can boost your happiness. 

Rigorous scientific studies in peer-reviewed journals suggest that going without water during the day can shrink your ability to think, diminish your memory, make you grouchy, and send you into brain fog. 

But drinking a substantial amount of water during the day ups your level of a crucial neurotransmitter, serotonin.  And serotonin is one of the key hormones of happiness.  In fact, serotonin is the chemical that many anti-depressants aim to boost.

And you can boost serotonin by drinking a glass of water. 

Drinking water also ups your level of another hormone of happiness, endorphin, your body’s own version of morphine.  Endorphin is another joy producer. 

In addition, drinking water ups the activity of your sympathetic nervous system, the system that can yank you out of brain fog and put you vigorously in touch with the world around you.  And the researchers emphasize that this impact of drinking a glass of water on your sympathetic nervous system is fast. 

But that’s not all.  Drinking water after you’ve gone without it for a long time can perk up your judgment and your decision making.

To hammer that point home, there’s the study of 23 six and seven year olds in the peer-reviewed journal Appetite titled “Does having a drink make you think?”  The answer to the question is yes. 

Having a glass of water upped these tykes’ cognitive ability. More specifically, it increased these children’s “visual attention and visual search.” 

And most important of all, it increased their happiness.



Jordan, J., Shannon, J., Black, B., Ali, Y., Farley, M., Costa, F., Diedrich, A., Robertson, R., Biaggioni, I., & Robertson, D. (2000). The pressor response to water drinking in humans: a sympathetic reflex?. Circulation, 101 5, 504-9. https://doi.org/10.1161/01.CIR.101.5.504

Yamamoto, T., Sako, N., & Maeda, S. (2000). Effects of taste stimulation on β-endorphin levels in rat cerebrospinal fluid and plasma. Physiology & Behavior, 69, 345-350. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0031-9384(99)00252-8

Takahashi, H., Motomatsu, T., & Nobunaga, M. (1986). Influences of water deprivation and fasting on hypothalamic, pituitary and plasma opioid peptides and prolactin in rats. Physiology & Behavior, 37, 603-608. https://doi.org/10.1016/0031-9384(86)90293-3

Edmonds, Caroline J., and Ben Jeffes. “Does having a drink help you think? 6–7-Year-old children show improvements in cognitive performance from baseline to test after having a drink of water.” Appetite 53, no. 3 (2009): 469-472.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2009.10.002

Richard, Dawn M., Michael A. Dawes, Charles W. Mathias, Ashley Acheson, Nathalie Hill-Kapturczak, and Donald M. Dougherty. “L-tryptophan: basic metabolic functions, behavioral research and therapeutic indications.” International Journal of Tryptophan Research 2 (2009): IJTR-S2129.  https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.4137/IJTR.S2129

Patsalos, Olivia C., and Volker Thoma. “Water supplementation after dehydration improves judgment and decision-making performance.” Psychological research 84, no. 5 (2020): 1223-1234.  https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00426-018-1136-y



Howard Bloom of the Howard Bloom Institute has been called the Einstein, Newton, and Freud of the 21st century by Britain’s Channel 4 TV.  One of his seven books–Global Brain—was the subject of a symposium thrown by the Office of the Secretary of Defense including representatives from the State Department, the Energy Department, DARPA, IBM, and MIT.  His work has been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, Psychology Today, and the Scientific American.  He does news commentary at 1:06 am Eastern Time every Wednesday night on 545 radio stations on Coast to Coast AM.  For more, see http://howardbloom.institute.

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