Happy Hormones 3 tips for easier rewiring the brain (edit-1)
3 tips for easier rewiring
- Don’t judge yourself for 45 days.
- Make peace with your unhappy hormones.
- Choose your new happy habit wisely.
Tip #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.
Humans are not born pre-programmed 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.
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. ! ? ! ? ! ?
Tip #2 Make peace with unhappy hormones Unhappy hormones are part of your brain’s normal operating system. They alert you to survival threats the way happy hormones alert you to survival boosts. If you run from them, you’ll always be running. You can learn to live with them instead.
Why do unhappy hormones 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 hormones are always trying to protect you by finding potential harm and sounding a warning. They feel bad because that works: it gets your attention.
Instead of perceiving unhappy hormones as urgent disaster, you can accept them as natural blips in the awareness of a mortal being.
Unhappy hormones helped our ancestors survive by alerting them to danger quickly. Unhappy hormones connect neurons, so you learn about danger. Once something causes you pain, your brain keeps trying to avoid it to protect you. Unhappy hormones 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!
Tip #3 Choose your new happy habit wisely You have 4 happy hormones to choose from: Dopamine Serotonin Oxytocin Endorphin
Your brain wants all of them. Give yourself a well-balanced happiness diet. Don’t stick to the one you’re already good at. Dopamine Serotonin Oxytocin Endorphin
“Everything I like is illegal, immoral, or fattening.” If something feels good, it promoted survival for your primitive ancestors. Happy hormones 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 well-being.
How can I stimulate happy hormones 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 hormones 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.
Dopamine 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.
Dopamine 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 long-sought 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.
The “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 efforts! ! ! Take 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.
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. You can find healthy ways to feel important.
Our brain equates attention with survival because we’re born helpless. We build self-reliance 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!
Oxytocin 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.
You 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.
Endorphin 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.
Creating 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.
Ready for a re-wiring project? Don’t expect to rewire yourself completely overnight. Choose one healthy way to stimulate your happy hormones and repeat it for 45 days, no matter what.
Don’t judge your results too soon. Don’t run from unhappy hormones. Choose your new habit carefully.
You can eliminate a bad habit by replacing it with a new habit. It’s the only way.
When one re-wiring project succeeds, start another. You will always have more good feelings to look forward to.
Your brain needs happy hormones. 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.
You can build a new happy habit in 45 days * * But it’s hard.
All the information here is elaborated in my new book, Meet Your Happy hormones $9. on Amazon $2. on Kindle 99 99