123. Get Your D.O.S.E. of Brain Chemicals, a Behavioral Economics Foundations Episode

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By Melina Palmer. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Today is all about the four main feel-good chemicals in the brain and understanding how they work. We will also talk about what drives them so you can boost them for yourself and use them in your business.

You may have noticed that I introduced this as a “DOSE” of brain chemicals, which is more than an off-handed phrasing. In fact “DOSE” is the acronym you can use to remember the four main “feel good” chemicals we will be talking about today: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins.

These are definitely not the only chemicals in the brain, but they are potentially the most widely talked about associated with happiness, motivation, and “feeling good.”

You’ve heard me mention all four on the show over the years, but I’ve definitely talked about dopamine the most. Today, I will tell you even more about dopamine while also digging in on the three others. (And, stick around to the end for the announcement of the amazing year-end sale!!)

Show Notes:
  • [01:09] Today we are talking about the four main “feel good” chemicals: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. These are definitely not the only chemicals in the brain, but they are potentially the most widely talked about and associated with happiness, motivation, and more.
  • [02:02] Download your free worksheet to help you remember the DOSE chemicals and how to use them.
  • [02:54] DOSE is an acronym for the four chemicals we will talk about today. Dopamine is about anticipation, motivation, and goals. Oxytocin is for empathy and social bonding. Serotonin ties in with our mood and pride, and finally endorphins mask pain and are part of that well known “runner’s high.”
  • [03:38] We are not meant to be perpetually happy. These chemicals in the brain are not naturally there to make us feel good, but to promote survival.
  • [05:07] We can get dopamine from anything, including sugar and even drinking water when we are really thirsty. So, it isn’t in the drug or food itself, but it is about the drive to obtain the dopamine. The anticipation of the reward is where we get a dopamine release not when we consume the item itself.
  • [07:34] Our lives these days are a flood of unnatural levels of dopamine: sugar and other junk food, social media feeds, Netflix and other shows to binge watch, video games, notifications on our phones, and more.
  • [08:33] If you want to make a change and kick some of those unnatural dopamine habits, a detox may be in order.
  • [10:10] Embrace the boredom to come through on the other side where you give your brain that break and ability to reset the dopamine expectations.
  • [11:06] Remember, while some mistakenly say dopamine is about pleasure, that’s incorrect. It is about desire, motivation, and goal achievement.
  • [12:35] For more natural dopamine, embrace a new goal (something you may find easier after you do a detox and get rid of some of those unnatural stimulants).
  • [14:05] Dr. Paul Zak and his team discovered that oxytocin signals to the brain that it is safe to approach someone and that they can be trusted. The release of oxytocin triggers empathy and motivates us to be more cooperative.
  • [16:08] We get that hit of oxytocin when we stick with the herd and strengthen the bonds we have for others because it keeps us safe and protected.
  • [16:34] Conversely, when we have had our trust betrayed there are unhappy chemicals released that may cause us to shut down and not want to open ourselves up again.
  • [17:04] Opening yourself up to trust is key to survival and critical for the oxytocin your brain needs.
  • [19:12] Serotonin is about confidence, social status, and belief in your own abilities.
  • [20:13] Going back to the episode on the focusing illusion, whatever you pay attention to and look for is going to seem really important and stand out.
  • [21:26] Focus on believing in your own value, and celebrate your wins alone and with others.
  • [22:30] The most important thing to know about endorphins is that they are caused by pain. You need to experience pain to get the endorphins.
  • [23:45] Pushing our limits a bit to reach new goals, run faster or do more push-ups (or however that translates to your business and career) can be useful but shouldn’t be the main focus.
  • [24:05] There are some safe ways to get an endorphin kick that don’t require you to physically injure yourself and they’re really quite easy. They are laughing and stretching.
  • [25:29] One study from Duke University found that 30 minutes of regular exercise three times a week was enough to boost mood as well or better than prescription medications for those who were severely depressed.
  • [26:33] Cortisol is a bad chemical that is released as a warning when we feel our survival is threatened.
  • [27:01] If you aren’t getting enough of the happy DOSE chemicals, you are likely to feel this one even more and want to mask that bad feeling. But fight that urge! It is important to allow yourself to feel the cortisol and know what your body is trying to tell you.
  • [28:46] The chemicals in our brains and bodies are there to help us survive, and experiencing them in a more natural way can help us to thrive as well.
  • [29:13] What is your first step with helping these brain chemicals to work for you? Share it with me on social media.
  • [29:55] Now is a great time to set some new goals to end 2020 strong and to have a productive and profitable 2021. With that in mind, I want to tell you about a fantastic sale I’m launching now.
  • [31:01] Laser-focused, 4-hour Deep Dives are here! If you’ve been looking for the perfect time to work with me 1-on-1… now is the time. Book by year end and get a YEAR FREE in the BE Thoughtful Revolution ($1200 value). Learn more and book your Deep Dive here.

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