Author: Loretta Graziano Breuning
|Habits of A Happy Brain (2015) does a great job of explaining the four neurotransmitters in your brain, how they impact your happiness in a very simple way, and how you can rewire your brain by taking responsibility for your hormones and thus, happiness. You can’t be happy all of the time, sure. But you can be happy most of the time. And this book is going to show you how.|
The brain is an exceptionally powerful learning machine. It has been said that “neurons that fire together, wire together.” This quote refers to one of the most important habits your brain can form – a good habit, such as eating right, getting enough exercise, and sleeping well. Good habits also include bad habits like smoking and eating too much junk food. The brain, when it comes to habits, is a lot like a big, highly efficient computer program. Habits are learned based on simple associations between a stimulus and a reward. The reward tells the brain whether a particular action is worth remembering for the future.
It’s all about the association: 1) a stimulus or cue; 2) an emotional response or feeling; 3) behavior or action; 4) a reward. Habits can be formed in as little as a few weeks or months, which is why it’s important to begin forming good ones early in life. By and large, most of our habits are formed unconsciously. This is why so many people aren’t aware of how their lives are being influenced by these automatic thought processes. Habits go deep into the human brain and psyche and influence our lives in a myriad of ways. By learning how habits work, you can begin to overcome their power.
Unfortunately, a lot of the habits we develop are at odds with our overall well-being, whether that’s stress or unhappiness. But it turns out that most of these bad habits can be broken with the right tools. To take a look at this, we have to understand how habits affect the brain.
Habits of A Happy Brain Key Points
Unhappy chemicals are equally important for us as happy chemicals are
When a chemical senses a threat, it releases a burst of energy that alerts its neighbors to flee the danger. It’s impossible not to feel joy in the presence of happy chemicals. However, there’s no denying that their existence is rooted in the presence of unhappy ones. Happy chemicals make up our happy moments: the smell of freshly baked bread after a hard day’s work, the taste of ice cream on a hot summer day, or a child’s laughter when he or she meets Santa Claus for the first time. They are the markers of our best memories and most treasured stories. Negative emotions exist to warn us that something is wrong and allows us to change behavior in ways that protect us from harm. Without them, we’d be unable to avoid dangerous situations or seek help when we fall ill.
There are so many things that are necessary to our survival, but we often take them for granted. We take the act of breathing for granted; we don’t appreciate how hard it would be to go without it. Many things help us to be healthy and happy, but we don’t always appreciate them. Allergies are a clear example. We all have them, and they protect us from things that can harm us – pollen, dust, mold, animals – but they hate the rest of the world just as much as we do. The allergic reaction is a not-so-happy chemical alerting us to things we should avoid for our safety.
The best way to appreciate something is by comparing it to something else. In the case of unhappy chemicals, we usually compare them to happy chemicals – serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin which are essential for our survival. But the chemicals that warn us of danger are equally as important.
Happiness is not permanent-nothing can make it stay forever
The feeling of happiness is the result of how well our bodies and brains are working in unison. Our endocrine system, or hormone system, is largely responsible for our emotional state. This is why it is commonly known as the “feel-good” or reward system. That’s why it’s good to find a way to get some satisfaction out of your life and be happy as we go through the process of finding our bliss.
For some people, the idea of being happy simply revolves around taking up a hobby that they enjoy or creating their own business. For others, they may want to find the right person to spend their life with; while some still may want to travel the world and experience new things. This idea of happiness is different for just about everyone, and your journey will be different from anyone else’s. As you can see, you can find happiness in a myriad of ways, so if you haven’t found one yet, there are plenty more to try.
Whatever it is that makes you happy should be something you can do over and over again, which is the entire point of the thing. If you only do something once and you can never do it again, there’s no real point in doing it in the first place, unless there are other benefits. For example, if your hobby involves helping others in need and makes you feel great. That may not make you permanently happy but at least it makes you feel great while you’re helping others.
The fact that we can get immensely happy at times doesn’t mean we should expect the same level of joy and contentment to continue unabated indefinitely. Happiness is built on a sense of contrast with pain, loss, sadness, and loneliness – and that means it’s not possible to sustain happiness forever. We can only be happy because we can be sad.
You get life once, don’t let another choice for you
The problem is that our brains don’t come with an option to just turn this part off, and so we end up paralyzed by choices that, in the grand scheme of things, matter very little. This brings us to the next problem: The path of least resistance is pushing you toward the heavily trafficked, and that road is slippery. This is the power of choice. It’s when you choose that you can take a different path, find a different product, or try something new instead of reverting to familiarity and what you’re used to.
We tend to believe that there’s some way to naturally live the lives that will make us happier and healthier. And that we’re probably not doing it right. We imagine that someday we’ll be ready, with the right partner, in the right job, in the right home, and then, and only then will everything feel just right. But by then, we’ve lost so much time, and life has moved on.
Don’t let others choose for you. What you eat is a choice. What you do for fun is a choice. Where you live is a choice. How you spend your time is a choice. How hard you exercise is a choice. Every day, every moment, are these choices that shape the life that you live, and in many ways define who you will become. Life is about those daily choices, about living authentically for the person that you are today, and who you want to be tomorrow.
Habits of A Happy Brain Quotes
“More rewards (dopamine), more physical security (endorphin), more social support (oxytocin), more respect (serotonin).” –Loretta Graziano Breuning
“The feeling we call “happiness” comes from four special brain chemicals: dopamine, endorphin, oxytocin, and serotonin.” –Loretta Graziano Breuning
Habits of A Happy Brain Review
If you’re looking to increase your happiness and improve your mental health, then you should check out the Habits of A Happy Brain book. This book is a comprehensive guide that will teach you how to change your habits to achieve greater happiness. Recommended.
To whom I would recommend Habits of A Happy Brain Summary?
- Anyone who wants to stay happy.
- Anyone bored with the materialistic world.
- Anyone who doesn’t accept his own mistakes.