What’s in a D.O.S.E. of Happiness?

Happiness is emotional and physical. Knowing how to hack into the happiness zone may save relationships and your sanity! Knowing how to encourage your body to release these four powerful neurochemicals is key. For easy memory retrieval, use the acronym (DOSE) Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, & Endorphins.

Dopamine motivates you and gives you that boost of pleasure when goals are met. When your body is lacking in dopamine, you tend to procrastinate more and lack enthusiasm about life in general. Self-doubt kicks in and your confidence levels bottom out.

The best way to keep a steady flow of dopamine in your bloodstream is to set daily mini-goals and celebrate each accomplishment. Just a “woohoo” is not celebrating; do something fun; splurge. It may be as small as eating your favorite candy bar or as significant as planning a vacation.

Either way, what goes up, must come down. Ouch, sorry for the downer. However, you can avoid these dopamine hangovers by creating new goals before achieving existing goals.

Oxytocin is released by the posterior pituitary gland (located behind your nose near the underside of your brain) when the hypothalamus, which controls the body’s emotional responses, is excited. Oxytocin encourages a feeling of intimacy, trust, and fidelity. No wonder it is referred to as the “relationship” hormone.

­Serotonin flows through your body when you feel significant or important. Everybody wants to feel needed at one time or another. Without these feelings, loneliness and depression rear their ugly heads.

Did you know that just 20 minutes a day of sunshine will promote vitamin D and serotonin production? Take a lunch break or coffee break outside when possible. Too much U.V. rays can be harmful, so wear a light sunscreen.

Since our brain cannot distinguish fact from fiction, reflect on past achievements and re-live positive experiences. This will trick your brain into producing a dose of serotonin.

Endorphins was a term coined from endogenous (created within the body) + morphine (pain reliever). Endorphins are released in response to pain or stress, and they help alleviate anxiety and depression. Endorphins stimulate the opioid receptors in our brain to act as an analgesic and sedative.

To keep these neurochemicals flowing, consider a daily dose of laughter, or at least the thought or anticipation of laughter. If you are more of a sensory-perception person, keep some dark chocolate nearby or the number for a restaurant serving spicy food. Aromatherapy has also been linked to endorphins production. Lavender and vanilla seem to be the favorites. Looks like our ancestors did their research; many flower gardens and talcum powders contained lavender, and vanilla was a culinary necessity and preferred perfume scent.

A little D.O.S.E. of happiness is as simple as sharing a positive attitude, along with reflecting and planning worthwhile and rewarding tasks. Have a happy day!

~ Dr. Doscher

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Sales Tip #2 – Supercharge Your Brain

A career in sales requires high energy, along with logic, imagination and passion. I refer to the later as L.I.P. service! Your perception of opportunities and potential clients fuels your ability to think logically and creatively during any sales process.

Regardless of your daily sales routine, focus on supercharging your brain. Any deficit in your cognitive abilities will affect your sales numbers; that’s a “no brainer”. However, more importantly, a perception problem may cause a processing problem, which can lead to a sales slump and eventually an empty pipeline!

Supercharging your brain is a continuous process. The brain responds to activity AND lack of activity. Our brains are plastic; they adapt to our needs and repetitive activities. Therefore, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

Physical and mental exercise bathes the brain in glucose (sugar), which promotes neural connections. Neurons that fire together, wire together. Concentrating on changing the brain’s firing patterns results in changes in logic, imagination, and passion (L.I.P.). Repeated actions (daily sales calls, website updates, and social media entries) and repeated thoughts (visualizing goals, positive mindset, and understanding customer needs) initiate a driving mental force, along with feeding neural pathways and triggering firing patterns.

A supercharged brain stores actions as memories and scripts in the subconscious mind. With repetition, the brain hard-wires the memories in the unconscious mind. Less energy is then needed for daily sales tasks, leaving more brain power to think creatively and sell with passion!

~ Dr. Doscher

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Profanity is Mindless

That’s right. Curse words are not processed in the same area of the brain as other language. Speaking requires language processing of units of sound, whereas curse words are stored as whole data chunks. Cussing requires less mental processing, and is primarily a function of the amygdala, a part of the brain’s limbic system which processes negative emotions.

The limbic system is in the center depths of the brain and composed of several organs responsible for memory and processing of emotions and behaviors. This area is also responsible for vocalizations in primates and animals. Yep, even animals use profanity, or at least it sounds like it!

Piecing the smallest units of sound (phonemes) together is slower and occurs in the cerebral cortex. This area of higher functioning is home to our abilities to reason and write, in addition to speaking. The formation of non-curse words seems to take longer and involves less spontaneous emotion. The formation of words is not only based on literal meanings but also feelings and emotions the words evoke. Since adult speech perception is somewhat automatic, words with strong negative connotations are easily retrieved and spoken almost spontaneously

Here are a few questions I’ve been asked recently: Why does profanity seem to slip out when our emotions are negative and spontaneous? Why is it so hard to complete a sentence when I’m angry or frustrated?

Since the amygdala is correlated with negative emotional associations; stimulating the amygdala can cause panic attacks and aggressive behaviors, while destroying the amygdala causes unusual calmness or fearlessness. Therefore, it makes sense that the amygdala would be activated in association with unpleasant words such as swear words.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies indicate verbal working memory tasks’ performances increase during positive emotional states but decrease during negative emotional states. Aha! “That’s why we can’t remember ‘sh_t’ when we are upset and frustrated.”

~ Dr. Doscher

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Power Pose – Hijack Your Mental Focus

Feeling a little down? Hangin’ a bit from the weekend? Just can’t get motivated?

What if I could tell you how to instantly change your behavior and feel more alive? The next time you walk into a meeting or present a sales pitch, you will be on fire!!

Competitive athletes learn to go into their “zone”, so why not you. It’s all a matter of state change. Watch how athletes stand on the sidelines; shoulders back, feet shoulder-width apart, and arms crossed or hands on their hips. Gymnasts strike a strong pose prior to starting a routine. Why is this important to note? These athletes are controlling their breathing and changing their mental state. They are psyching themselves to W-I-N!

Unfortunately, posture alone cannot accomplish this change of behavior, but it can encourage an increase in testosterone (power hormone) and a decrease in cortisol (stress hormone) in both men and women. When you start feeling more powerful and less anxious, you can think and be more productive.

You try it! Stand with your arms over your head in a “V” or on your hips. If you prefer, recline with your arms over your head and legs and toes extended. These are examples of power poses, feel free to create your own. (I would love to hear your suggestions) While you are in your power pose, look around and take note and concentrate on the positives; ignore the negatives. Think of prior successful meetings or sales transactions. This will jump-start your hippocampus to retrieve chunks of related memories to encourage your productive thoughts and confidence.

Congratulations! You just hijacked your brain to think like a winner, no power tie needed.

~ Dr. Doscher

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Getting the Most Mileage from Your Mental Fuel

Years ago, I heard the metaphor, mental fuel, used to refer to attention. I found it appropriate because like gas tanks, our cognitive thought processes hold a limited amount of fuel, and we can determine how quickly we use the fuel, depending on our driving habits. Research has proven that

  • we can determine which mental tasks receive the most fuel (attention)
  • rehearsed or learned tasks will require less fuel resources (attention).

Research has not confirmed, although highly speculative, multiple tasks can be performed in parallel versus flipping back-and-forth between tasks, and some tasks require a consistent amount of attention, regardless of the situation or other tasks involved (Willingham, 2007).

What about driving and talking? The question remains does our attention flip flop, yet go unnoticed, especially with experienced drivers? Probably so, since the experienced driver may not be giving 100% of their attention to either task. Don’t forget, memory also plays a part. We have practiced certain scripts to the point they no longer present much cognitive load (mental strain).

Research in the mid-1990’s demonstrated that auditory and visual tasks were interlinked and that one could not be compromised without affecting the other. Nevertheless, it was found that two auditory tasks caused more interference than an auditory and visual task. Perhaps, this helps explain why we can drive down a familiar road and chat with a friend, but incessantly get frustrated when talking on the phone, while someone is asking questions in our other ear! Remember, differences attract, and likenesses repel, or at least for attention mileage.

~ Dr. Michelle Doscher

For more information on cognitive processes, check out Daniel Willingham, along with Willingham, D. B. (2001). Cognition: The thinking animal. New York: Prentice Hall. 2nd edition (2004). 3rd edition (2007).

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