09 Mar Firing Up the Chemicals That Create Feelings
What’s In Your Smile D.O.S.E.?
By Motivational Keynote Speaker Darryl Davis
For the next few posts, I want to talk about the chemicals in our bodies that produce our feelings. They facilitate the messages that are sent to the rest of our body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, excited, and so on. There are four feel-good chemicals: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins. The acronym I created for these is D.O.S.E. As you will see, smiling activates the release of these feel-good chemicals in the brain. You get a nice dose of them when a big smile flashes across your face. Let’s look at what they are and how they affect our emotions. We’ll start with…
Dopamine: The Motivation Chemical (dream seeker).
Dopamine can be considered the “motivator” or “reward seeker.” I also like to refer to it as the “dream seeker” to help me remember: Dopamine = Dream. When our ancestors were living in caves and had to hunt or forage for food, dopamine was responsible for the drive that kept them looking for it again and again. For our purposes, a modern-day example would be a marathon runner seeing the finish line or a person packing his luggage for a vacation. Dopamine lets you know that either you are about to get something that you need or you are nearing a goal. It gives you that “Eureka!” feeling, and it is associated with pleasure receptors in the brain. Much reward-driven learning is based on dopamine transmission—picture a rat making its way through a maze because it knows that a piece of cheese is waiting at the end. Many highly addictive drugs, including stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine, act directly on the brain’s dopamine receptors. The personality traits that some people would call “outgoing” or “attention seeking” may have something to do with a higher sensitivity of the dopamine system. How does smiling fit into this? Studies have shown that when we smile, we get a shot of dopamine. It’s been said that the feeling one gets from smiling is equivalent to the feeling of winning a lottery ticket of $25,000. Sounds great, right? I’m going to try this the next time I go to the bank to pay my mortgage. With a couple of flashes of my pearly whites, I figure I’ll have my home paid off by next week!
Smiling is good for your health. Know that we have the ability to help create a needed boost of energy and good feelings. Our bodies are hard-wired to help us out that way. All it costs? Is a smile. Fire up your own dopamine system by consciously smiling your way through the day. Go ahead. Experiment with it a little. Surprise yourself with a dose of the good stuff. It’s part of living a life worth smiling about!
Look for more posts coming soon about the other chemicals that affect our sense of well-being, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins.
To learn more about transforming your life and accomplishing extraordinary things, check out my book How to Design a Life Worth Smiling About, or invite me in for your next event to get the skinny on bringing a #SMILEDOSE into your business! I’d love to hear from you!