Tag Archives: positive psychology

Chemicals in the brain

Our brains give off a whole bunch of chemicals. In fact it is the understanding of the way the pleasure receptors in our brain and body worked that allowed the development of drug treatment programmes.

An interesting one is Dopamine.

Dopamine, like many things, makes us feel good. We all want to feel good.

So when the brain gets what it wants it releases dopamine and we feel good.

Simple.

However, our brain getting what it wants is not the same as getting what we need.

For example, our brains love familiarity. When we do what we’ve always done we get a dopamine reward and we feel better.

So if we’ve always felt useless, we get a chemical reward for feeling useless.

If we’ve always avoided social interaction because we are afraid of it for some reason, then we get a chemical reward for avoiding it.

This is all well and good but makes it even harder when you’re working to change. Especially if you have help from a Cognitive Hypnotherapist like me where the change can be quick and profound. In this situation you have to work hard to specifically focus your brain on learning about the new you. You need to make your new behaviours as familiar as the old ones. The sooner you do this, the sooner you get a dopamine reward for those new behaviours.

The good news is that if we specifically work towards being positive, science  has shown that not only are healthy hormones released, but the unhealthy release of cortisol and stress related hormones is less and less. So we get healthy hormones to make us feel good, we get dopamine for repeating it and our body becomes healthier.

So what can you do to change?

Well it’s actually not that difficult. You just need to train (or prime) your brain to focus on the good stuff. Try this simple task everyday – you may be surprised at the difference

At the end of every day write down 3 positive things that happened.

That’s it. They don’t need to be big things. Just positive things.

And because you do it at the end of every day your brain knows to look for it the next day. And the more you look, the more you notice. And the more you notice, the more it becomes familiar.

Try it out.

National Happiness Day

Happiness. An interesting word. And a meaning that’s specific to each of us.

I can be happy going for a run but someone else would find that hell

Martin Seligman, through Positive Psychology investigated happy people and looked at what made them happy. He narrowed it down to 24 values and signature strengths. You can take a survey here to find your signature strengths (there are loads of questions so allow yourself time!)

Here are mine:

Your Top Strength

Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.

Your Second Strength

Love of learning
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

Your Third Strength

Humor and playfulness
You like to laugh and tease. Bringing smiles to other people is important to you. You try to see the light side of all situations.

Your Fourth Strength

Perspective (wisdom)
Although you may not think of yourself as wise, your friends hold this view of you. They value your perspective on matters and turn to you for advice. You have a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and to yourself.

Your Fifth Strength

Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense; you are a “real” person.

Strength#6

Kindness and generosity
You are kind and generous to others, and you are never too busy to do a favor. You enjoy doing good deeds for others, even if you do not know them well.

Strength#7

Leadership
You excel at the tasks of leadership: encouraging a group to get things done and preserving harmony within the group by making everyone feel included. You do a good job organizing activities and seeing that they happen.

Strength#8

Fairness, equity, and justice
Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.

Strength#9

Zest, enthusiasm, and energy
Regardless of what you do, you approach it with excitement and energy. You never do anything halfway or halfheartedly. For you, life is an adventure.

Strength#10

Modesty and humility
You do not seek the spotlight, preferring to let your accomplishments speak for themselves. You do not regard yourself as special, and others recognize and value your modesty.

Strength#11

Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.

Strength#12

Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty
You excel as a member of a group. You are a loyal and dedicated teammate, you always do your share, and you work hard for the success of your group.

Strength#13

Curiosity and interest in the world
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

Strength#14

Forgiveness and mercy
You forgive those who have done you wrong. You always give people a second chance. Your guiding principle is mercy and not revenge.

Strength#15

Bravery and valor
You are a courageous person who does not shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even if there is opposition. You act on your convictions.

Strength#16

Capacity to love and be loved
You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.

Strength#17

Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
You expect the best in the future, and you work to achieve it. You believe that the future is something that you can control.

Strength#18

Gratitude
You are aware of the good things that happen to you, and you never take them for granted. Your friends and family members know that you are a grateful person because you always take the time to express your thanks.

Strength#19

Social intelligence
You are aware of the motives and feelings of other people. You know what to do to fit in to different social situations, and you know what to do to put others at ease.

Strength#20

Industry, diligence, and perseverance
You work hard to finish what you start. No matter the project, you “get it out the door” in timely fashion. You do not get distracted when you work, and you take satisfaction in completing tasks.

Strength#21

Self-control and self-regulation
You self-consciously regulate what you feel and what you do. You are a disciplined person. You are in control of your appetites and your emotions, not vice versa.

Strength#22

Caution, prudence, and discretion
You are a careful person, and your choices are consistently prudent ones. You do not say or do things that you might later regret.

Strength#23

Appreciation of beauty and excellence
You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.

Strength#24

Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
You have strong and coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe. You know where you fit in the larger scheme. Your beliefs shape your actions and are a source of comfort to you.

Once you’ve done your strengths go back and look at the best 2 times of your life and the worst 2. Compare where your top 5 strengths were in those.

I have learnt that I need to move to a future that includes my top 5 strengths.

It is why I have decided to do a Phd because it meets my love of learning. It’s why therapy is so perfect for me because it meets my strengths of genuineness and wisdom. Building my business meets my need for creativity and ingenuity.

Skin in the game

It’s a funny thing about human nature that in order to truly value something we generally need to have skin in the game – there need to be consequences for a failure to commit.

For example when you get something for free you are not likely to value it as much as if you’ve worked and saved to get it.

Something being more expensive tends to make us believe it is better quality and ‘worth’ more. This is not necessarily the case.

When approaching a change in your life, it’s a message that’s worth bearing in mind.

If you really want to drive change you might want to make sure you have skin in the game.

  1. If you are losing weight through listening to something like Thinking Slimmer then you need to be active in the process (as all you really have to do is listen to a track every day) You can do this by setting clear short term goals and by noting down any changes you see each day.
  2. If you are engaged in personal change and growth either through seeing a therapist or self-help then note down up to 3 positive things you notice every day. Write them down, don’t just log them in your head
  3. If you are developing a business don’t just create an over-arching vision of what you want to achieve but write down short and medium term goals that are SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time specific). Regularly review those goals

Whatever you are doing, you are likely to be more successful at it if you have a concrete stake in its success – if you have skin in the game

If you need my help with life coaching to get you to a place you want to be, or anything else, drop an email to dawn@thinkitchangeit.com and we can chat