Dr. Loretta Breuning’s groundbreaking book Habits of a Happy Brain describes how the chemicals in your brain are in charge of making you feel happy. When you learn to understand how the brain controls these chemicals, you can create new habits to manage the release of your happy chemicals and put yourself into better moods.
In this episode, Dr. Breuning and Matt O’Neill discuss the 4 happy-brain chemicals. They also discuss the 2 unhappy-brain chemicals. By understanding these chemicals and why your brain releases them, you are able to take control of your moods and live a happier life.
Here are some power takeaways from today’s conversation:
[09:57] Dopamine and Oxytocin
Dopamine is a happy chemical released when you’re closer to meeting your needs and goals. Oxytocin comes from the good feeling triggered by social support. In the modern world, humans bond with each other to feel less isolated and stimulate oxytocin.
The confidence chemical serotonin makes you feel good when you feel like you’re in a position of strength. Endorphins, on the other hand, are released as a response to physical pain.
You can regularly stimulate dopamine when you set your goals and take action to achieve them. Understand your own personal reward system and create a pathway of achievement, goals, and dopamine. Start an oxytocin habit by remembering that it’s natural to seek support from others. Focus on having realistic expectations to get your serotonin.
[02:56] Happy chemicals are released when you take action to meet survival needs. [03:01]
[15:45] Serotonin is the good feeling that you're in a position of strength, so your brain is constantly comparing you to others. [15:50]
[34:06] If you're kind to others, then you anticipate other people being kind to you. And that's creating a more comfortable world for yourself. [34:11]
[29:34] It's so important and useful to understand your personal reward system. [29:38]
Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust
Habits of a Happy Brain by Loretta Breuning
Status Games by Loretta Breuning
Science of Positivity by Loretta Breuning
The Innermammal Institute and their course
Download the Good Mood Toolkit here!
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About the Guest
Dr. Loretta Breuning is a Professor Emerita of Management at California State University. She is the founder of the Inner Mammal Institute, where she helps people understand and manage their mammalian brain chemistry.