How do you move beyond a habit you hope to break to enjoy benefits from brain chemicals you hope to cultivate?
Can you see why successful people tend to flee from anxiety or fear mongering, and why relaxed people create more innovative solutions? Does your brain’s electrical wiring work mostly in your favor?
Control our brain’s craving?
Good news for those who crave cigarettes. Scientists recently discovered a molecular switch to shut off nicotine cravings. The key is to effectively block hypocretin-1 receptors that lead to craving for nicotine, and thereby lessen people’s desire for cigarettes. Is it possible to adjust one’s molecular switch to control craving? If so, how is dopamine a key element in this transformation.
Yearning and the Human Brain
The human brain triggers a yearning for food, nicotine or alcohol, when certain chemical reactions occur. Can you imagine a novel way to help addicted smokers or alcoholics to break unhealthy habits? Or can you imagine craving food that fuels your brain as you fill your plate?
Do you crave calorie laden desserts or fast foods? Whether that chocolate box or doughnut platter gets passed or projects scrumptious images onto your mental screens, dopamine increases most in people who crave and overindulge. In addictive people, this chemical then acts as an alert signal that links food to pleasure. How so?
When a Brain Craves
Check out Kristin Leutwyler Ozelli’s description of what’s going on in the brain during cravings at ScientificAmerican.Com. It seems that the brain of a person who exercises and maintains a steady weight using brain imaging technologies, and you’ll see less dopamine.
Interestingly human brains are highly sensitive to food stimuli … researchers are still trying to figure out … why some produce more dopamine when they see favorite foods. Without question though, the dopamine increase is linked to foods to which they’ve been conditioned to enjoy most.
Dopamine for Rewards and Motivation
Research shows an increase in dopamine in the striatum which is a brain region involved with reward and behavioral motivation.
Interestingly, this increase comes simply from smelling or seeing the food, even in cases where people are told they will not be able to eat it. In fact, fatty foods, according to research, renders the brain resistant to chemicals such as insulin and leptin which tell your brain to stop eating, so that you can easily overeat in that state.
Dopamine increases come in similar ways to people who crave foods. For instance, these neurochemical responses come to drug addicts who watch images of people taking drugs. It’s often thought to be a matter of balancing this chemical – since both extremes can be harmful.
Unfortunately, both drug addicts and obese people show reduced numbers of D2 dopamine receptors in the brain’s reward areas, compared to people with healthier appetites. Researchers suggest that fewer receptors is the brain’s attempt to compensate for the repeated surges of dopamine stimulation with drugs or food. It more a matter of balance though, than of simply decreasing dopamine. Why so?
While too much dopamine can cause compulsive behavior – too little brings boredom and lack of motivation at work? Or worse, too little dopamine can spell ADHD.The jury is still out on why some get rushes of dopamine and others struggle with too little at times.
Could researchers help people who crave and over-indulge, to turn off that molecular switch in the brain and end some obsessive behaviors? For instance, dopamine production can be increased by practices such as adding more vitamin C in your diet.
Our mindset can literally shape our wellness here
It’s one of the great ironies of our modern era. We’re obsessed with staying well, yet we’re as unwell as we’ve ever been.
A certain stimulus, such as visualizing your favorite hobby, will enhance feelings of enormous well-being. That’s golfing with my grandchildren for me, but it could be anything you especially love to do, regardless of your skills in that thing.
That stimulus prompts a neuron in the area to awaken a natural opioid. It’s called enkephalin, it’s natural, and it’s manufactured by your brain. How does it work as your custom-made opioid when you feel a bit down or overwhelmed?
Enkephalin interacts with other proteins to trigger the generation of the brain’s natural version of marijuana to help you out. It’s called anandamide and comes with your personal pharmaceuticals.
Sometimes known as the bliss molecule, anandamide acts as a messenger molecule which helps to relieve pain, works against depression, improves memory and regulates appetite.
We come equipped with pharmaceutical wonders!
Studies have begun to affirm the key connections between your mindset and your wellness. Since the 1980’s wellness programs have proliferated, and at their core is one common denominator – a change of mindset.
The impact of our mindset on behavior is a subject that has fascinated me for decades. It’s why I published several books such as Mita in the Classroom and Beyond, with Pearson Publisher and others over the past 40 years.
The opposite of mental wellness is stress and anxiety, which stimulate toxic chemicals such as cortisol. This unhealthy narcotic with its compelling urges can put our wellness, and even our lives in danger, and place us into a vicious cycle of craving contentment while at the same time awakening its opposites.
In the process of adjusting to a healthy new mindset, you may confront the resistance of old habits. Two typical roadblocks for those who struggle with discontentment are perfectionism and lack of motivation.
Run from perfect!
The desire to be perfect can shrink brainpower needed to become content and well. How so?
When we look at “perfect” as our brain sees it, we take the wind out of perfectionism’s demands?
Perfection may drive us to procrastination – yet when we discover the chemical and electrical circuitry for wellness, we begin to motor toward amazing new horizons. Have you seen it happen?
Motivation with wings
Motivation also adds wings for putting us in touch with our healthiest selves, and when we lack motivation – wellness drops to the ground.
What does your motivational airship look like today? Unless we know what motivation looks like, we rarely ride its wonder, or fuse its mental energy into our day.
To cross the interplay between motivation and healthy results is to leap across huge caverns that create high performance minds – and like every successful flight, it takes a winning plan. Incentive also comes in two-footed questions, that stoke curiosity into inventions, and tosses in serotonin to fuel well being. Have you seen it?
When we purposefully chase our passion for instance, that custom-made stimulus powers us to achieve visible change and growth for the next highly charged adventure. Motivation simply drives the chase itself to trigger a mental stimulus that delights us in the heat of the race.
On down days, inspiration can elude us, much like an ice cream melts away under a noonday sun. Somehow, our brain’s basal ganglia defaults us back to ruts and we slog through the mire of routines without the driving force our mind deserves. Today though, we stoke waves and electricity for brainpower we’ll need.
No naysayer can hold us back.
Motivation – equips us with the tools that will leap us from drudgery to dare again, as this senior thrill seeker leaped from a plane for adventure? Motivation tends to come from building new neuron pathways toward a dynamic adventure that moves our success and satisfaction along a finer trajectory.
Can others motivate us? Not surprisingly, if we waited for others to motivate us, we could miss life-changing opportunities. Far better to plan for a brainpower boom. To media or people around us there may be a hundred reasons to languish in gloom, yet there remains one reason to tap into power of the human brain to beat the wings of upper air as an eagle does – our brains thrive there!
Motivation’s the opposite of boredom, and research shows boredom is more choice that circumstance. Einstein opened motivation through 10 keys to discoveries. I find amazing motivation when I question myths in ways that reboot brainpower. That process helps us back on track and rekindles our vision, while helping us to follow a dream.
Serotonin taps for any situation
Few people refuse tangible offerings for higher brainpower, yet far fewer see themselves building brainpower through serotonin taps given. You?
1. To a golfer, a serotonin tap may be a small bag of nuts with a few yogurt covered peanuts tossed in, and given on the 1st tee. Ask at the 9th hole – how your serotonin tap impacted scores for the game. Nuts can turbo charge a golfer’s brainpower.
2. To cranky leaders, a serotonin tap may be simply a smile and a few encouraging words. Each time you emulate good tone tools, you help others to rewire mentally for more of the same. Move tone into action by modeling its strengths and you set the mental stage for newly inspired insights from multiple intelligences.
3. To aging neighbors, a serotonin tap may be a challenge to remove barriers and add opportunities for newly discovered adult brain cell regeneration. Many people yearn for youth because they still believe common myths that adult brain cannot grow new cells or regenerate old ones. New neuro discoveries challenge seniors to age voraciously rather than retire graciously.
4. To unemployed friend, a serotonin tap may be a survey to highlight hidden or unused intelligences. Inquiring minds spark more working memory which is less available to those who settle for old or revert to ruts that shape old socks.
You’ll likely find far more serotonin taps in brainpowered workplaces, while far more cortisol shots tend to exacerbate problems in toxic seas of cynics. Luckily, through newly discovered neuro tactics, you can improve brainpower and add hope to circles you frequent.
10 principles of change I’ve learned that help us
- Initiate change in small increments—geographically, technologically, and conceptually. Participants and leaders need time and support in order to temper concerns about mastery of increased productivity with skills to adapt new knowledge and contemporary challenges, such as technology in a changing society. In other words, change should more than test traditional practices – it should introduce a variety of brain based ways, such as mind-guiding and multiple intelligence approaches.
- Help others by doing projects with them, by working alongside. Participants and leaders who activate one another’s interests and abilities erect pillars in structures that counteract deeply ingrained, top-down leadership dictates. Working together, each one brings unique responses to common problems until the group is satisfied that the solutions chosen, will benefit all.
- Respect human dignity. Rather than blame others for failure, draw on the experience and knowledge of each one to facilitate growth. When leaders hook new knowledge onto past ideas and experiences of participants, they demystify complex new facts. Growth begins with participants’ knowledge and experience, so that all enjoy a role in the production of knowledge, and unique abilities become a growth-producing vehicle.
- Achieve innovation at minimum cost by using local resources. Often, the best resources are those closest to you. Leaders and participants are nourished and energized through shared responsibility for positive changes. Experts can also bring specialized resources, such as the ability to use new technology effectively.
- Complete all tasks with excellence and evaluate each. Through performance- based assessment, or the direct observation and rating of performance, evaluation becomes an ongoing process. Brain based assessments provide opportunities to apply knowledge to real-life situations in ways that achieve excellence.
- Share what you learn with others. Unless shared, ideas have little power to bring about lasting changes. Growth becomes interactive and active. Any setting can be charged with enthusiasm, when worker-led tasks offer folks a place at the helm of their own growth. Outcomes can include Gardner’s eight ways of growth, that applies solutions from music, dance, dining, industrial frameworks, art, historic reports, and samples of architectural designs.
- Create both personal and group satisfaction. As leaders and participants interact, they gain new appreciation and interest, not only in ideas but also in one another. Organizations benefit through group satisfaction that arises from this holistic approach toward growing and leading together.
- Base innovation on wisdom, not mere knowledge. Many believe the process of lasting change is spiritual, not merely intellectual. Inuit leaders on Baffin Island emphasize that wisdom includes such distinct characteristics as kindness, humility, caring, putting others first, and building community. These characteristics are often modeled by Inuit leaders and participants and in circles they build with in community. An overall observation I made while in the Arctic is that Inuit innovation draws more on participants’ beliefs and values and draws less on rigid facts from texts or water-tight answers.
- Change takes buy-in and support to succeed, so engage others at the onset, through two-footed questions. The best way to frame your inquiry is to ask a question that another person would most enjoy addressing.
- Reflect to engage all! We cannot change others but we can change and grow ourselves to lead others toward growth with the kind of excellence and care that inspires leadership and participation from all.
YOUR TURN! Join our Brain Based Circles! Would love to meet you at any of the following!