Question? Leave a message!




Meet Your Happy Chemicals

Meet Your Happy Chemicals 21
Meet Your Happy Chemicals Dopamine Serotonin Oxytocin Endorphin Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD copyright 2012When your brain releases one of these chemicals, you feel good. Dopamine Serotonin Oxytocin Endorphin MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDIt would be nice if they surged all the time. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDBut they don’t work that way. Each happy chemical has a special job to do, and it turns off when the job is done. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDThat’s why we’re always looking for ways to turn on our happy chemicals. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDWhen we find something that works, we repeat it. The brain builds a “happychemical habit.” MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDMany happy habits have negative side effects. Unhappiness results. Your brain may react by trying harder to trigger happy chemicals in the same old ways. A bad loop... MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDFor example: I bet you can think of ten examples in ten seconds We each struggle to manage a brain that seeks happy chemicals in the ways it learned from past experience. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDThe GOOD NEWS IS... You can escape this loop. You can build a new happy habit to substitute for an old one. You can do it in 45 days. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDThe BAD NEWS IS... It’s hard. It won’t feel good for 45 days. It may even feel like your survival is threatened because your brain equates old happy habits with survival. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDIt’s easier when you know how your brain works This presentation has 3 brainsavvy tips to help build new happy habits with fewer negative side effects. When this presentation is over, choose one old happy habit you’d like to replace with a new one. Plan in detail how you will activate a new behavior for 45 days while your brain is rewiring itself. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDAll the information here is elaborated in my new book, Meet Your Happy Chemicals 99 9. on Amazon 99 2. on Kindle MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhD3 tips for easier rewiring 1. Don’t judge yourself for 45 days. 2. Make peace with your unhappy chemicals. 3. Choose your new happy habit wisely. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDTip 1 Don’t judge yourself for 45 days Your brain needs 45 days of repetition for a new habit to start feeling normal. Accept bad feelings for those first 44 days instead of letting them change your course. Don’t expand the bad feelings by judging yourself. Your brain is a complex contraption. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDExamples Jane starts eating healthy after years of compulsive snacking. But she doesn’t feel as “great” as she expected. “Maybe this isn’t for me,” she thinks. She catches herself judging and sticks to her plan. In 45 days, healthy eating feels natural to her. John stops partying and gets serious about his studies. But he has the impression that everyone else “gets it” faster than he does. He focuses on studying instead of judging, and in 45 days he feels good about his new self despite the frustrations of social comparison. Mary and Mel stop fighting and build the habit of calm acceptance. They think it feels “phony” when they control their tempers. But instead of judging these awkward feelings, they stick to the plan, and in 45 days, calm acceptance feels great MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDWhy is our wiring so quirky We learn effortlessly in youth, but as you age, new learning requires repetition. Your happy chemicals got wired by things you picked up by accident. Humans are not born preprogrammed with survival skills. We’re born to connect neurons from life experience. Our earliest experiences make connections that our later knowledge rests on. By age 2, some of your neurons have already died, and others have started networking. By age 7, your network is big enough to rely on. By 21, your neurochemical cake is baked. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhD Your brain equates old learning with survival, even when you learned something unhealthy. There’s no delete button, but you have the power to build a new circuit by putting your focus elsewhere. The new circuit must grow big and strong because the old circuit will always be there. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDTip 2 Make peace with unhappy chemicals Unhappy chemicals are part of your brain’s normal operating system. They alert you to survival threats the way happy chemicals alert you to survival boosts. If you run from them, you’ll always be running. You can learn to live with them instead. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDWhy do unhappy chemicals seem to surge when you do things that are good for you They were there all along but you were masking them with a happy habit. Unhappy chemicals are always trying to protect you by finding potential harm and sounding a warning. They feel bad because that works: it gets your attention. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDExamples a smoker Joe started smoking because it helped him feel safe in uncomfortable situations. He stopped smoking and his unsafe feelings grew. His brain needs time to build a new safety habit. He tried donuts, but saw the down side. So he tried just noticing his threatened feelings, and reminding himself of his own triumphs. In 45 days, that new habit felt as safe as a cigarette once did, even though the world is not actually safer. a spender Shopping made Sue feel important, and as soon as she stuck to her budget, her old unworthy feelings kept creeping up. Manipulating people helped her feel important again, but she realized that has bad side effects too. Instead, Sue started accepting her natural urge for importance, and its inevitable ups and downs. In 45 days, she could face disappointments without selfdestructive spending binges. a workaholic Frank felt good at work. When he started coming home early, bad feelings took him by surprise. Instead of running back to work, he faced those bad feelings and learned about his fear of conflict. In 45 days, his brain learned that conflict does not kill him, and that his needs will be respected if he respects the needs of others. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDInstead of perceving unhappy chemicals as urgent disaster, you can accept them as natural blips in the awareness of a mortal being. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDUnhappy chemicals helped our ancestors survive by alerting them to danger quickly. Unhappy chemicals connect neurons, so you learn about danger. Once something causes you pain, your brain keeps trying to avoid it to protect you. Unhappy chemicals will always be part of life because danger and disappointment are part of life. Your brain keeps trying to protect you with whatever circuits you happen to have. Give it a break: build some new ones MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDTip 3 Choose your new happy habit wisely You have 4 happy chemicals to choose from: Dopamine Serotonin Oxytocin Endorphin MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDYour brain wants all of them. Give yourself a wellbalanced happiness diet. Don’t stick to the one you’re already good at. Dopamine Serotonin Oxytocin Endorphin MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhD“Everything I like is illegal, immoral, or fattening.” If something feels good, it promoted survival for your primitive ancestors. Happy chemicals connect neurons and the brain “learns” to get more of things that feel good. Too much of a good thing is often bad. Good and bad feelings flow at once and your brain decides which choice promotes your wellbeing. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDHow can I stimulate happy chemicals without bad consequences Knowing the job each happy chemical does makes it easier to find ways to stimulate them without harmful excess. But it’s never “easy.” Happy chemicals were not meant to surge all the time. They turn off when their job is done so they’re ready to alert you to the next good thing. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDDopamine is the great feeling that you will succeed at meeting your needs Your ancestors felt the joy of dopamine when they found a new berry patch or fishing hole after hungry wandering. Dopamine connects neurons, so your brain turns on the dopamine the next time you see signs of a berry patch or a fishing hole. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDDopamine turns on when... an alcoholic sees a bar a wandering eye sees a hot prospect a video game player wins points a drug user finds a new supply a reward falls into your lap But for good reasons too... when you achieve a longsought goal when you take a step toward a goal when you see another move toward a goal when your efforts are rewarded when you invest effort and expect it to be rewarded MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDThe “I GOT IT” feeling learning to ride a bicycle finding a parking spot winning a spelling bee discovering a new park doing a crossword puzzle planning a meal exploring a new city playing a musical instrument Getting a promotion stimulates dopamine. You can’t get a promotion every day, or control whether you ever get one. But working toward a goal with positive expectations stimulates dopamine. If you ONLY focus on getting promoted, your positive expectations will erode. Diversify your dopamine effortsTake on a new challenge. Take small steps toward it every day without fail for 45 days. Your brain will learn to stimulate dopamine in a new way.Serotonin flows when you feel important This brain we’ve inherited seeks importance because that promotes survival in the state of nature. Sometimes people make bad choices to get that nice serotonin feeling. And sometimes people give up on feeling important. That feels bad too. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDYou can find healthy ways to feel important. You can’t control the world and the importance it gives you. But you can train your brain to feel confident in your own importance regardless of what others do. You can appreciate the importance you have instead of focusing on the importance you don’t have. People respect you behind your back. Imagine that instead of imagining the worst. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDOur brain equates attention with survival because we’re born helpless. We build selfreliance over time, but those early circuits are still there. Your survival does not depend on getting attention today, but it feels that way unless you build a new circuit. The brain keeps seeking importance no matter how much you have, because the serotonin feels good MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDOxytocin is the feeling of trust Oxytocin gives you a good feeling when you’re with someone you trust. Social trust feels good because social alliances promote survival. But misplaced trust does not promote survival. Solid trust bonds take time and effort to build. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDYou can stimulate oxytocin by enjoying the trust you have instead of focusing on the trust you don’t have. You can build new trust bonds in small steps over time. Trust builds each time expectations are met. You can build trust with anyone by making the steps small enough. Negotiate expectations that both parties can meet, and repeat, again and again. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDEndorphin is the brief euphoria that masks physical pain Endorphin helped your ancestors get help when injured. Real physical distress triggers endorphin. “Runners high” only happens when you exceed your limits. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDCreating pain to enjoy the endorphin is a BAD survival strategy. Laughing and crying stimulate small bursts of endorphin Varying your exercise routine can stimulate endorphin without harmful excess. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDReady for a rewiring project Don’t expect to rewire yourself completely overnight. Choose one healthy way to stimulate your happy chemicals and repeat it for 45 days, no matter what. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDDon’t judge your results too soon. Don’t run from unhappy chemicals. Choose your new habit carefully. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDPlenty more on how to do this in my book. 99 9. on Amazon 99 2. on Kindle MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDYou can eliminate a bad habit by replacing it with a new habit. It’s the only way. When one rewiring project succeeds, start another. You will always have more good feelings to look forward to. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDYour brain needs happy chemicals. They are nature’s signal that something is good for your survival. Anything linked to survival gets your attention, though the brain has a quirky way of defining survival. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhDYou can build a new happy habit in 45 days But it’s hard. MeetYourHappyChemicals.com copyright 2012 Loretta G. Breuning, PhD