Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D., is founder of the Inner Mammal Institute, which helps people get the best from their mammal brain. As Professor of Management at California State University, and as a mom, she learned to question the presumption that happiness is our natural default state. Studying animals taught her that unhappiness is part of our survival system, and happiness is a learned skill. She retired from teaching to build alternatives to the disease-based view of the brain.
Dr. Breuning is the author of Meet Your Happy Chemicals, Beyond Cynical, and I, Mammal. She is a Docent at the Oakland Zoo, where she gives tours on mammalian social behavior. She constantly marvels at the overlap between a wildlife documentary and the lyrics to a country western song.
Loretta spent a year in Africa as a United Nations Volunteer after graduating from Cornell University and Tufts. She lectured worldwide on resisting corruption pressures, based on her book "Grease-less: How the Thrive without Bribes in Developing Countries.”
Ms. Breuning loves to help people discover their power over their mammalian operating system. Many free resources are available at www.InnerMammalInstitute.org.
Happiness is a surge of dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin or endorphin. These brain chemicals turn on and off for reasons that are hard to make sense of until you know how they work in other animals. Then it's easy to see how our happy chemicals are stimulated by behaviors that promote survival in the state of nature. Unhappy chemicals (cortisol) surge when you see survival threats. Your brain defines survival with circuits you built in youth. You can build new circuits, but it's harder than you expect. It's not easy being a mammal, but it helps to know how your operating system works.