Thu, 27 June 2019
Why do entrepreneurs have such a hard time stepping back from work? Why do we continually engage in behaviors that are exhausting us?
Ryan welcomes Dr. Loretta Breuning on the show for a deep dive into neurochemistry and how you can harness it’s potential to create a happier life for yourself.
[3:21] Ryan welcomes Dr. Loretta Breuning to the podcast and launches the discussion with a summary of his understanding of brain chemicals.
[5:00] Dr. Loretta offers up her caveats to Ryan’s interpretation: all chemicals have both a good and bad side.
Dopamine is a motivator and a distractor — It will reward you for any behavior it perceives will make you survive. In between survival behaviors dopamine is not necessary or wanted!
Oxytocin is often called the love chemical but really it’s about trust. But herd behavior can be negative so humans oscillate between herd mentality and individual pursuits.
Serotonin is the chemical that gives you a good feeling when you feel like you measure up to your peers.
[8:50] Dr. Loretta unpacks Ryan’s gigantic question: the expectation that we can have a peak positive moment at all times is unrealistic.
It’s important to learn what we understand our brain chemicals do in order to fully grasp the natural rhythm of ups and downs and stimulate our brains in a healthy way.
The advice she gives to people is first: read the books! Ultimately, there is no external fix, you need to take responsibility.
[13:40] Does the understanding of these chemical relationships affect how Dr. Loretta consciously makes decisions? The short answer is yes.
However we all are born helpless and need to please others to ensure our survival, what happens during periods of vulnerability and peak neuroplasticity (up to adolescence) will shape the chemical messages we receive from diverging or going with the herd.
The key is then to begin to see these behaviors for what they are and beginning to retrain your neural pathways.
[17:20] Ryan shares a very personal and vulnerable story and uses it as a case study to explain how his own trust mechanisms were stunted at a moment when he was relying heavily on the herd.
[20:39] With time we develop a tolerance for the chemicals we produce and unless something prevents you from repeating the behaviors that generate dopamine, most of us will keep questing after the same reward. What can we do about that?
This is where you can use Serotonin! If you are trying to merge away from one behavior, use your need to measure up to your peers to drive forward a new goal and take pride in a new goal.
[25:58] Cultural trends are often a Serotonin pitfall where people become obsessive about measuring up to their peers and social media is an enormous driver for this.
[28:43] Are there ways through diet, exercise, lifestyle to train the way to produce more of these chemicals? Can the body eve produce more of these chemicals?
These chemicals are produced from fat — don’t cut it all out! Sunlight is also a multiplier.
Diversification is key: if you only have one reward mechanism (junk food - good feeling - bad feeling - junk food) you will be stuck in a loop, when the bad feeling occurs, you need to have an arsenal of strategies to divert it. You also need to dig into the root of the bad feeling and address it independently to free yourself of it.
[34:45] SSRIs are popular — Serotonin reuptake inhibitors prevent the reassimilation of Serotonin by your system thereby increasing its bioavailability; MDMA is being investigated also but has been linked with disruption of endogenous neurotransmitter systems; Psilocybin and other psychedelics seem to be promising in the treatment of mood disorders and Serotonin precursor supplements are also all the rage. What is Dr. Loretta’s stance on external supplementation?
Loretta thinks anything external you add into your system will be less effective in the long run than controlling your thought process.
Braingasm [38:38] the minute we rest, we are pausing the pathways preventing them from chasing after the next high thereby creating a lull during which:
1. Our system perceives a threat to its survival
2. Is paradoxically the place where we can examine our programmed responses and chose to design the next pathways.
[41:43] If and when we get the room to rest, what do we do to reprogram ourselves?
A new project is always good — make it different (it will be less rewarding at first, stick with it) do it in small steps, design the steps carefully so you can repeat those steps every day.
Dr. Loretta Breuning’s second book The Science of Positivity: Stop Negative Thought Patterns By Changing Your Brain Chemistry details that process.
[47:10] Ryan thanks Dr. Loretta for coming on the show and invites listeners to follow her work at InnerMammalInstitute.org.
Thanks for listening!
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