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Book Review & Discussion : Habits of a Happy Brain

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Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels

About this event

In this event, you’ll learn

What all things, that trigger you happy chemicals, have in common

When dopamine and endorphin are most critical to be released

Why moms need oxytocin and how you won’t want to admit your rush of serotonin

How your experiences physically alter the structure of your brain and when that process reaches its height

Why it’s never too late to rewire your brain and how long it takes

About the Author

Loretta Breuning, PhD, is the author of Habits of a Happy Brain and The Science of Positivity. She is the Founder of the Inner Mammal Institute and Professor Emerita of Management at California State University, East Bay. As a teacher and mom, she was not convinced by prevailing theories of human motivation. Then she learned about the brain chemistry we share with earlier mammals, and everything made sense. She began creating resources that have helped thousands of people manage their inner mammal. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Psychology Today, Real Simple, Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, and on Forbes, NPR, and numerous podcasts. Her work has been translated into Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and Turkish.

Overview

UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BRAIN

The human brain has a great deal in common with the brains of other mammals. In all mammalian brains, the four happy chemicals are controlled by the limbic system, which releases neurochemicals when something good happens. The other key happiness-inducing part of the brain, the cortex, is much larger in human brains than in those of other mammals, and that difference allows us to regulate our limbic systems and train ourselves to create new neural pathways. “Your big cortex makes you different from other animals,” Breuning writes. “You can keep building new neural pathways and thus keep fine-tuning your efforts to meet your needs. But man does not live by cortex alone. You need your limbic system to know what’s good for you.”

Each of the four happy chemicals has a “survival motive,” or a result that gives our brain good feelings from the release of that chemical. Dopamine is geared to seek rewards, endorphin is released by ignoring physical pain, oxytocin flows when we build social alliances and serotonin is triggered when we receive respect from others. Our brain is designed to store experiences, so when we repeat behaviors that stimulate happy chemicals those pathways or neural trails, become well-worn, and we are less likely to develop new habits. Unfortunately, when we travel those brain pathways over and over the good feelings lessen. The secret to triggering happiness over a lifetime is developing the habit of creating new neural trails.

HOW TO CREATE NEW PATHWAYS

People are hardwired to fall back on the same old neural pathways, and if they give into this inertia they will find less and less happiness over time. With a proper understanding of brain chemistry and a commitment to building new habits, it is possible to continue to mine new sources of happiness with our own actions. For each happy chemical, Breuning recommends specific, practical behaviors that will stimulate the neurochemical to produce good feelings:

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