Dopamine is one of the hormones and neurotransmitters produced by our brains which give us the feeling of pleasure. When sufficient levels of dopamine are not present, people turn to caffeine, chocolate, or addictive mood enhancing drugs to simulate the lost feeling. Not an earth-shattering revelation. However, there is a revelation that will change the quality of your life as it relates to dopamine and feelings of happiness.
We are, by design, creatures that seek to know “why.” We are confronted daily with paradox and the urge to resolve discrepancy. We are also bombarded with conflict on a regular basis whether they be internal conflicts or, literally, conflicts with others. The stress created by unresolved discrepancies or ongoing conflicts not only wears us down but also reduces our brain’s ability to produce one of several “feel good” hormones, dopamine.
Here comes the revelation. When we solve a discrepancy (and get our “why”) and when we resolve conflict, guess what happens? Right! Our brain produces dopamine.
Conflict appears to be a “regulating factor” in experiencing reward. In the recently released book “Ha!” by Scott Weems, the cognitive neuroscientist states that “without conflict there would be no way to regulate reward, and so everything would give us equal amounts of pleasure. And, as the saying goes, if everything makes us happy, then nothing does.”
So, am I advocating for conflict? Absolutely not! I traded in the practice of Law for the practice of Mediation…also known as conflict resolution. What I am advocating for is aggressively seeking and creating resolution for the conflicts in your life on a regular basis… if you want to produce dopamine and, quite literally, get happy.
If we can all agree that both needing to know “why” and conflict are inherent aspects of our lives, and that both 1) answers and 2) resolution produce dopamine and, therefore, happiness…then I would suggest that you never stop seeking answers to life’s paradoxes and you resolve each and every conflict you encounter.
Not to worry. There will always be another paradox and another conflict to tackle. Such is life. But so, happily, is dopamine…your reward from Creator for stepping up and taking personal responsibility.
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