7 Habits of a Happy Brain

You can rewire your brain to enjoy more serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphin

Posted Jul 07, 2016

Build new neural pathways to turn on your happy chemicals in new ways.
Source: L Bruening

Make this part of each day and you'll like the results:

  1. Remember that you have power to build new pathways in your brain. (But it takes more persistence and courage than you may expect, because your old pathways are already well developed and connected to your pleasure and pain centers.) [1]
     
  2. Remind yourself that your frustrations are just electricity flowing down the path of least resistance in your brain. (You can give your electricity a new place to flow if you focus on a positive new choice every day for 45 days without fail.) [2]
     
  3. You can turn on the excitement of dopamine by taking a step toward an expected reward. (Of course rewards are unpredictable in the real world, but you can always adjust your expectations and take another step.) [3]
     
  4. You can enjoy the safe feeling of oxytocin by taking small steps toward social trust, often. (The mammal brain rewards you with a good feeling when you create social trust, but it makes careful choices because it’s not always safe to trust.) [4]
     
  5. You can stimulate the nice feeling of serotonin by focusing on what you have instead of what you lack. (The mammal brain makes social comparisons because that promotes survival in the state of nature, but you can find ways to feel good about yourself without putting others down.) [5]
     
  6. Laughing triggers the joy of endorphin, so make time in your life for laughter. (You may not laugh at what your friends think is funny, so let your own sense of humor be your guide.) [6]
     
  7. Stop what you’re doing when your cortisol turns on, because it makes everything you do look bleak. (Cortisol is designed to alert you to potential threats, so you will see plenty of threats until you give your body a couple of hours to metabolize it.) [7]

A complete step-by-step plan to rewire your happy chemicals is detailed in my book: Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain your brain to boost your serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphin levels. 

Discover your inner mammal at InnerMammalInstitute.org.

[1]  Costandi, "Neuroplasticity," MIT Press, 2016

[2]  Merzenich, "Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life," Parnassus Publishing, 2013

[3]  Schultz, "Neuronal Reward and Decision Signals: From Theories to Data," Physiological Review 95:853-951, June 2015

[4]  Zak, "The Moral Molecule: How Trust Works," Dutton, 2012

[5] Palmer, "Evolutionary Psychology" The Ultimate Origins of Human Behavior," Allyn and Bacon, 2002, pp.173-77

[6] Welsh, "Why Laughter May Be the Best Pain Medicine," Scientific American LiveScience, Sept. 14, 2011

[7] Amen, "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life," Harmony, Rev. 2015