Friday, June 19, 2015

Hackers: Today's Kudos & Encouragement (Friday 6-19-15)

Good Morning Hackers,

We might not have a money tree, but we can have a happiness tree. Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin and Endorphins are the quartet responsible for our happiness. Many events can trigger these neurotransmitters, but rather than being in the passenger seat, there are ways we can intentionally cause them to flow.  Being in a positive state has significant impact on our motivation, productivity, and well-being. No sane person would be opposed to having higher levels in those areas.

Here are some simple ways to hack into our positive neurochemicals:

Dopamine motivates us to take action toward goals, desires, and needs, and gives a surge of reinforcing pleasure when achieving them. Break big goals down into little pieces -- rather than only allowing our brains to celebrate when we've hit the finish line, we 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.  Instead of being left with a dopamine hangover, create new goals before achieving your current one. That ensures a continual flow for experiencing dopamine.

Serotonin flows when you feel significant or important. Reflecting on past significant achievements allows the brain to re-live the experience. Our brain has trouble telling the difference between what's real and imagined, so it produces serotonin in both cases. If you need a serotonin boost during a stressful day, take a few moments to reflect on a past achievements and victories.  Have lunch or coffee outside and expose yourself to the sun for 20 minutes; our skin absorbs UV rays, which promotes vitamin D and serotonin production.

Oxytocin creates intimacy, trust, and builds healthy relationships. It's released by men and women during orgasm, and by mothers during childbirth and breastfeeding. The cultivation of oxytocin is essential for creating strong bonds and improved social interactions.  Often referred to as the cuddle hormone, a simple way to keep oxytocin flowing is to give someone a hug. Dr. Dan recommends eight hugs each day.  When someone receives a gift, their oxytocin levels can rise. You can strengthen work and personal relationships through a simple birthday or anniversary gift.

Endorphins are released in response to pain and stress and help to alleviate anxiety and depression. For those not willing to engage in regular exercise (which produces Endorphins), laughter is one of the easiest ways to induce endorphin release. Even the anticipation and expectation of laughter, e.g., attending a comedy show, increases levels of endorphins. Taking your sense of humor to work, forwarding that funny email, and finding several things to laugh at during the day is a great way to keep the doctor away.

Quote of the Day:
“A Pastor, A Priest & A Rabbi walk into a bar …” – every cheesy comedian everywhere

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