Chemical behind Happiness- Dopamine
Dopamine (4-(2-Aminoethyl)benzene-1,2-diol) is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.
Dopamine is important for arousal, movement, posture,alertness, mood and executing activities with haste and vigor. Dopamine motivates you to take action toward your goals, desires, and needs, and gives you a surge of reinforcing pleasure when achieving them. Aspects of these normal Dopamine functions are highlighted in disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, slow reaction time, depression, procrastination, self-doubt, and lack of enthusiasm. Low Dopamine levels can lead to lack of motivation, fatigue, addictive behavior, mood swings and memory loss. Drugs that elevate brain Dopamine levels, like cocaine or amphetamines, produce euphoric feelings of well-being, in addition to heightened arousal and attention.
Aside from affecting immediate mood and behavior, Dopamine also produces changes in the brain that are persistent, sometimes lasting a lifetime.
Too much Dopamine leads to Schizophrenia (overstimulated brain).
Studies on rats showed those with low levels of dopamine always opted for an easier option, and less reward/food; those with higher levels of Dopamine exerted the effort needed to receive double the amount of food.
Break big goals down into little pieces—rather than only allowing your brain to celebrate when you’ve hit the finish line, you can create a series of little finish-lines which releases Dopamine. And it’s crucial to actually celebrate—buy a bottle of wine, or head to your favorite restaurant whenever you meet a small goal.
And avoid the Dopamine hangover; when you tank out after a massive high. Create new goals before achieving your current one. That ensures a consistent pattern for experiencing Dopamine. As an employer and leader, recognize the accomplishments of your team. Sending an encouraging email, or giving a bonus, will allow them to have a Dopamine hit and increase future motivation and productivity.
Dopamine Boosting Foods
Dopamine is made from the amino acid tyrosine.
Eating a diet high in tyrosine will ensure you’ve got the basic building blocks needed for dopamine production.
Here’s a list of foods, drinks, and spices known to increase Dopamine:
- all animal products
- fava beans
- green leafy vegetables
- green tea
- lima beans
- sea vegetables
- sesame and pumpkin seeds
- wheat germ
Foods high in natural probiotics such as yogurt, kefir, and raw sauerkraut can also increase natural Dopamine production.
Boost Dopamine with Exercise
Physical exercise is one of the best things you can do for your brain. It boosts production of new brain cells, slows down brain cell aging, and improves the flow of nutrients to the brain.
Did you know that Omega-3’s (fish oil) increases Dopamine?
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