Your Brain on Happy – Neurotransmitters and the FISH! Philosophy
The science of happiness, featuring the practices of FISH! and four favorite neurotransmitters, via Deena Ebbert aka Propellergirl.
“Hardwired for happy” is more than my motto, it’s a scientific passion. Particularly, I’m fascinated by the four neurotransmitters commonly credited for relaying messages of happiness throughout the brain: Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Endorphins. Since this week’s focus is happiness at work, I unleashed my inner science nerd and consulted several wise sources* on the ways these brain chemicals bring bursts of joy to our day. I am happy to report they align nicely with the four practices of the FISH! Philosophy: Play, Make Their Day, Be There, and Choose Your Attitude.
Dopamine sparks with motivation, anticipation, and the driving desire for a reward. Producing dopamine is as easy as PLAY!
Gather as a team, collaborate toward a common goal, and go get it! When we balance risk and reward by having each other’s backs, we foster an environment where people feel safe to try, fail, improve, try again, and succeed. You’ll enjoy an extra rush when you overcome obstacles and discover new ways of doing. Celebrate collective victories and set your sights on the next horizon.
Pro Tip: Revel in your accomplishments while knowing that, to keep the Play going and dopamine flowing, you must constantly seek new challenges and creative solutions.
Serotonin serves up a feeling of being both valued and valuable. If you seek self-confidence and are inspired to make a difference, look for ways to MAKE THEIR DAY!
It starts with you. Evaluate your skills, gifts, and talents. Be honest…you’re awesome! Once folks know how much you have to offer, you’ll be invigorated by how much you have to give. Focus with purpose in a Make Their Day way; radiate outward and you’ll be surprised how rewarding the resultant interactions are. It’s a great way to grow your social circle and cement team connections.
Pro Tip: At the end of the day, give yourself an extra serotonin dose by reflecting with gratitude on the ways you have made a positive difference.
Oxytocin occurs in environments where healthy social interactions are easy. Bonding, trust, and loyalty – three cherished sensations – become more attainable when we take the time to BE THERE.
Strong and sustainable human connections happen when we run smack dab into mission-critical situations and turn to each other for authentic best-practice conversations. A willingness to connect compassionately, be vulnerable, and focus with intent and interest yields a sense of calm, encouraging interpretation of social information in person, rather than virtually.
Pro Tip: In these days of distance, close the gap by making a “mix tape” featuring the favorite tune of each person on your team. Music energizes the brain and helps make it elastic. In that state you are more approachable, relaxed and flexible. You are better at “being there.”
Endorphins are the pain-fighters, your second-wind, that flood of feel-better right-quick when you’re doing something difficult. One easy way to dose yourself with endorphins is to CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE!
Looking for refreshed perspective in the midst of a stressful situation? Take your sense of humor to work. Science tells us we get a boost of brainpower and endorphins abound when we give ourselves permission to laugh. Attitude is adhesive; an intentional decision to be lighthearted in the midst of serious business blazes the pathway for success – for you and others.
Pro tip: Boost endorphins and clear the fog to make way for a brighter attitude by taking a quick jog or eating spicy food or dark chocolate. Extra points for doing either of those with a buddy.
“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”
~ Helen Keller
*Wise source PROPS go to:
The Owner’s Manual for the Brain – Pierce J. Howard, Ph.D.
The Neurochemicals of Happiness – Christopher Bergland, in Psychology Today
FISH! Culture Personal Workbook – ChartHouse Learning, home of the FISH! Philosophy