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Happy Brain Habits is a book that offers an insightful and comprehensive review on how to boost happiness through the power of habits.

Habits of a Happy Brain – by Dr. Loretta Graziano Breuning

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There are lots of books on “happy chemicals” and “how to retrain your brain”, so what makes this one different?

Firstly, it focuses on four “happy chemicals”, not just one:

  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine
  • Oxytocin
  • Endorphins

It also looks at the role of cortisol, and how it caps off each of those just a little bit, to keep us just a little malcontent.

Behavioral psychology tends to focus most on dopamine, while prescription pharmaceuticals for happiness (i.e., most antidepressants) tend to focus on serotonin. Here, Dr. Breuning helps us understand the complex interplay of all of the aforementioned chemicals.

She also clears up many misconceptions, since a lot of people misattribute the functions of each of these.

Common examples include “I’m doing this for the serotonin!” when the activity is dopaminergic not serotoninergic, or considering dopamine “the love molecule” when oxytocin, or even something else like phenylethylamine would be more appropriate.

The above may seem like academic quibbles and not something of practical use, but if we want to biohack our brains, we need to do better than the equivalent of a chef who doesn’t know the difference between salt and sugar.

Where things are of less practical use, she tends to skip over or at least streamline them. For example, she doesn’t really discuss the role of post-dopamine prolactin in men—but the discussion of post-happiness cortisol covers the same ground anyway, for practical purposes.

Dr. Breuning also looks at where our evolved neurochemical responses go wrong, and lays out guidelines for such challenges as overcoming addiction, or embracing delayed gratification.

Bottom line: this book is a great user-manual for the brain. If you’d like to be happier and more effective with fewer bad habits, this is the book for you.

Click here to check out Habits of a Happy Brain, and get biohacking yours!

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