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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Handwriting in a Digital World

Handwriting is more than written information on paper. It is a tangible piece of our mental processes. I’m not referring to your deepest darkest secrets; only you know those. I am talking about how you choose to communicate your thoughts. Some people rehearse their words in their brain prior to putting pen to paper, others just write freely and worry about editing later. Perhaps, this is why we use digital formatting for most everything; it is easy to edit without leaving smudges or lined-out words in the wake of our emerging discourse. Aesthetically, typed information is easier on the eye and void of unnecessary distractions. So why do law enforcement officials insist on taking written statements with pen and paper? Some may jokingly profess it is the lack of funds for 21st century technology, or others may just shrug and say “that’s the way we have always done it.”. Despite the reason, the unique identifying characteristics of handwriting should not be discounted.

Handwriting, like your DNA, identifies you yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Your handwriting changes with your moods and faculties. Handwriting is a time-stamped view of you! So, what does that say about comparative handwriting analysis? The overall appearance of your handwriting remains fairly consistent, but your writing slant, pressure, and spacing will vary. Something as simple as different widths of pen tips or writing surfaces will affect your handwriting; however, the information directed by your brain will not be altered. All of the typical who, what, when, where, how, and why questions cannot remain locked in our subconscious forever. While writing, we consistently pass along clues to our thought processes. For example, does a handwritten note “sound” like the person who wrote it? Hmm, not so much. Listen to a recorded version of the writer reading their handwritten note. All of a sudden you hear voice inflection and purposeful pauses. Have you ever wondered why movie producers use the author’s voice when showing a person reading a note from another? The effect is more powerful and speaks to our emotions.

Some say handwriting analysis is an art, a subjective science. I agree and disagree. Handwriting analysis can also be a measurable insight into mental processes. My research has shown and continues to show us areas where our brain writing consistently speaks to us with real-time data. Let me show you how this works. Intrigued? Fantastic! Click here, and grab a pen and paper.

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Your Brain, a Microcosm of a City

All major cities have infrastructure which is needed for operation and maintenance of its society.  Your brain is no different.  Information and essential elements are transported efficiently.  Permanent structures are erected and restructured to meet needs and demands.  Lastly, operations are ever-changing, including changes in function.  As brain scientist Lara Boyd noted, everything we do and encounter changes our brains, for better or for worse.  Are these changes permanent? Yes and no.

We shape the way our microcosm presents itself and functions.  We determine whether certain structures expand or are allowed to diminish.  “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.”  Our brains exhibit neuroplasticity; that is why our experiences and gained knowledge affect our perspectives, hence personalities.  Nutritionists often say, “You are what you eat.”  Well, from a psycho-social perspective, “We are what we experience.”  Fill your brain with positive, thought-provoking thoughts and diminish the effects of negative life experiences. These fluctuations will result in behavioral changes, along with awakened brain regions and the opportunity for amplified learning capabilities!

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Memories of the Future

Coined by David Ingvar, memories of the future, refers to our intentions.   As proactive beings, we make plans and follow them to guide our behavior.  While gathering snippets of our past experiences, we try to anticipate outcomes of possible future actions.  Therefore, we depend on these schemas to direct our actions, resulting in desired behavioral outcomes that do not imitate past experiences or present realities.

The general consensus has been that deceptive behavior is more cognitively demanding than truthful behavior.  However, more recent research is pointing to truthful intent as more cognitively demanding than false intent.  How so? You may ask.  Conceptualizing truthful intent requires not only planning for the future but also recalling memories of past actions and their corresponding behaviors and reactions.  Then, our proactive selves digest this information and anticipate possible future actions with desired behavioral outcomes. Whew! Talk about cognitive load!

The prefrontal cortex, which means “at the front of the cortex”, is our corporate executive of the brain.  Its tasks include, but not be limited to, executive control, conflict monitoring, emotion, and working memory.   Hmm…so, maybe the cognitive load approach to interviewing is not the golden ticket, if determining veracity of intent is the interviewer’s objective.

If the above assumptions are correct, a truthful interviewee could exhibit more deceptive behavioral cues, such as pauses or exaggerated details, than a deceptive interviewee.  This might occur as a result of the multi-layer cognitive processing when creating truthful ‘memories of the future’.  Remember, false statements, especially fabricated statements, may contain some truthful content; however, the deceptive person’s goal is not to unintentionally reference past actions, which could associate them to a particular phenomenon in question.  To prevent this from occurring, deceptive persons typically shy away from referencing memories and their associated behavioral responses,  when creating false statements of intent.

 

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