Brain chemicals that help you feel good

Here’s a brain joke. Really.

The Joke

A blond and a brunette were watching the 11:00 news and a shocking story about a guy jumping off a bridge.

“Ten bucks says he doesn’t jump” offers the blond.

“You’re on! Ten bucks he does” says the brunette.

They watch. It’s tense. He looks. He jumps.

“Awwwwww”say the blond, reaching for his wallet.

30 seconds later the brunette hands back the money. “Take it” she says. “I can’t keep it. I watched the 10 O’Clock news and they showed the story already.”

The blonde says “I know!! I watched it too. I just didn’t think he’d do it again!!!”

This works in so many ways. The first is that blonde jokes are, traditionally, about women, so right from the start you found it odd that I spelled it blond, right? Go on, admit that you thought I’d made a typo!

Then it was odder when it really was about a blond man.

Humor of most any kind is funny because it leads us in a certain direction, preparing the brain for a conclusion, and then gives us something unexpected – the punchline, and the humor.

The Brain

So what does this have to do with the brain. Other than the pleasure of a good laugh, we get some additional benefits, and this is the brain bit. No doubt you’ve heard of adrenaline. It’s a chemical released by the adrenal glands in response to stress, or to the anticipation of stress. In small amounts it helps us feel good. Jokes, and the anticipation of humor, give us a little adrenaline release. With this, we feel a little more energized and capable; more prepared to tackle things.

When we then have a pleasurable experience, the brain releases dopamine, which helps cement that this was in fact a fun thing to do, and so something we should do again. It’s a feelgood reward chemical that reinforces behavior.

So here’s the take home

Struggling at work? Feeling a bit flat at home? As the body goes through its natural daily cycle, we feel different through the day. Take regular snippets of time to get a dopamine fix by engaging in short, fun activities. Try these

  • read a joke
  • share a joke with someone else
  • enjoy something fun (like Gary Larson)
  • phone someone you enjoy for minute or two
  • take a break in meetings to lighten up with humour
  • start meetings with a cartoon

Adrenaline and dopamine increase, we feel good, and we also feel more alert and interested.

Productivity increases, mood lifts and problems become surmountable. It also makes us more likely to have better ideas.

Impressive words to drop into the morning coffee chat

Have you tried this?

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About brendonbclark

Hi, I’m Brendon, but people usually call me B. I’ve a Masters degree in psychology, postgraduate qualification in mental health, and qualifications in counselling, professional supervision and adult education. I consult, speak and blog. Join me, you can subscribe for free.
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