Happiness Science: Brain Chemicals

Thanks to Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD for the best overview of what makes our brain happy.  In her book and short presentation provided by Psychology Today, Dr. Graziano Breuning illustrates the roles Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin and Endorphin play in our happiness.

Dopamine: The awesome feeling you experience from:

  • Achieving something
  • Meeting your needs
  • The expectation of getting or earning something you really love

Serotonin: The splendid feeling you experience from:

  • Being important
  • Others recognizing you as an expert
  • Having social status such as education

Oxytocin: The cool feeling you experience from:

  • Being trusted
  • Being accepted and cherished in your groups
  • Knowing there is certainty in your relationships

Endorphin: The momentary euphoria you experience from

  • Laughter and joy
  • Exercise and excitement
  • Listening to music we love

Happy Brain Chemicals

David Rock’s SCARF model improves workplace happiness

David Rock has been scanning brains of folks at work for a long time.  He has written a number of books and his best work is on how to create the Reward mind state when at work.  In his short youtube video here, he illustrates how managers can use the SCARF model: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness.  Having these elements in place creates workplace happiness; pleasure centers show Dopamine and Oxytocin that create better decisions, better short term memory, and resilience.  Conversely, if SCARF is missing, it releases the ‘bad’ brain chemical Cortisol and creates emotional pain that brain scans show are very similar to physical pain like being hit in the thumb with a hammer!  OUCH!!

David Rock SCARF vid graphic

The tipping point…

The pivot point that became Happywork was the result of this Nancy Etcoff Ted Talk on Happiness viewed early in December of 2012.  I was about to get on the treadmill to run at lunch…I watched it three times in a row!  It changed me forever.  When Nancy and I corresponded about the video, I was pumped up! I knew I was about to set out to do something really special and cool.