How do the Neurochemicals in your brain change when you begin to live your life mission
Although the primary purpose of this book is to help you design and pursue a life mission that will bring you joy and satisfaction, I believe it’s important to stop for a moment and talk about neurochemicals.
Many people in the world take prescription medications and recreational drugs to escape reality and to seek temporary and elevated states of happiness. But did you know that these chemicals can be produced naturally through meditation, affirmations, visualization techniques and the positive mental states attained by pursuing your life mission?
In broad lines, neurochemicals are a series of substances that your brain produces, which regulate its activity, causing behavioral and emotional changes. By understanding how neurochemicals work, you can implement practices that allow you to change the chemistry of your brain, thus facilitating healthy habits.
What do Neurochemicals have to do with your life mission?
Since the effects of neurochemicals can have a profound impact on your emotions, behaviors, and decisions, the fulfillment of your life mission relies on how well you can regulate your brain activity.
Over the last decades, researchers have made significant progress in understanding the inner-workings of the human brain. It seems neurochemicals such as dopamine or serotonin play an essential role not just for mental health, but also personal, professional, and spiritual growth.
But to tap into the fantastic potential that resides within the chemistry of your brain, first, you need to understand how neurochemicals work.
We know for a fact that the human brain is capable of processing a vast amount of data, thanks to its intricate but highly organized network comprised of hundreds of millions of neurons.
The amazing symphony of carefully choreographed electrical impulses that make up your mental architecture relies heavily on how well neurons communicate with each other. And this is where neurochemicals come into play, influencing the way information (in the form of electrical impulses) passes from one neuron to another. That’s why experts refer to neurochemicals as neurotransmitters, as they play an essential role in how your brain processes information.
But what’s truly fascinating is that your thoughts, emotions, decisions, and actions can change depending on the neurotransmitters that mediate the link between neurons.
Let’s take a closer look at how neurochemicals work and why they hold an important role in your journey towards health, happiness, and fulfillment.
Dopamine – also known as the reward molecule – is a neurochemical that plays a vital role in your everyday decisions.
Your ability to make decisions based on good or bad results that you achieved in past activities is coordinated by this neurotransmitter. Among other things, dopamine is also responsible for pleasure.
Research on both humans and primates revealed that dopamine has a significant impact on the neurons that make up the frontal medial cortex, thus mediating the link between reward and behavior. In other words, whenever you make a decision that results in a favorable outcome, dopamine helps your brain ‘record’ this event, thus allowing you to make more good choices in the future.
For example, if you choose to include yoga or meditation into your routine, the positive outcomes that you experience will trigger the release of dopamine. As a result, you will feel more motivated to engage in such activities, as they generate an inner sense of pleasure and satisfaction.
But dopamine is also the neurotransmitter that controls your level of happiness by adjusting emotional impulses. Furthermore, by having a profound effect on your perception, dopamine can influence your level of optimism and motivation as well.
Low levels of dopamine are associated with stress, sadness, and even depression. Fortunately, there are plenty of activities that can keep your dopamine at optimum levels. For example, you can practice meditation to increase the amount of dopamine your brain produces. Experts suggest that meditative practices can have a positive impact on our dopamine and serotonin levels. As a result, you will become mindful of the decisions you make, thus giving yourself the opportunity to choose the paths that will take you closer to your life mission.
Serotonin – also known as the confidence molecule – plays a crucial role in your overall mood. Researchers believe that high levels of serotonin are associated with feelings of happiness and self-confidence.
Furthermore, this neurotransmitter has a significant influence on your senses, and can also regulate aggression, appetite, sexual behaviors, body temperature, and metabolism.
As you can imagine, low levels of serotonin can lead to significant mood changes such as sadness, irritability, depression, and sleep disturbances. That’s why many of today’s antidepressants contain this neurochemical.
The chemical compounds in your body are truly fascinating. Thanks to serotonin you can benefit from an internal balance that provides well-being and supports the processes that contribute to your overall health.
Once again, you can use meditation and visualization techniques to boost your serotonin levels and gain the confidence you need to fulfill your true calling. In fact, why not go outside and meditate in nature!? Experts suggest that exposure to the sun can further stimulate the production of serotonin.
Oxytocin – also known as the love and bonding molecule – is the hormone that cultivates love and helps you form attachments with other people. The deeper and more intimate your relationship with another human being, the higher the amount of oxytocin your body produces. Intimate gestures such as hugs, kisses, consolations, and acts of tenderness can increase the amount of oxytocin.
For women, oxytocin has numerous physical effects. For example, this hormone plays a role in the contraction of the uterus during labor and stimulates the secretion and release of breast milk. When the mother holds her child, the body produces oxytocin, generating a positive mood and inner balance.
Mentally, oxytocin creates a fertile environment for trust and generosity. It helps you feel closer to your loved ones, see others in a better light, and even turn enemies into friends. In other words, it improves your mental and emotional state by influencing the quality of your relationships and social interactions.
You can benefit from the amazing effects of oxytocin by engaging in social activities or using positive affirmations to offer yourself the love and affection you need to pursue your life mission with authenticity and inner drive.
Endorphins – also known as the happiness molecules – are a group of neurochemicals which are believed to be of great importance to your overall state of happiness and well-being.
Unlike dopamine – which is associated with both good and bad outcomes – endorphins are released when you engage in pleasant activities; like when you savor a delightful meal or watch your favorite sitcom.
Among the positive effects of endorphins are low levels of aggression, physical pain, and depression. Unfortunately, the downside of endorphins is that it creates a short-term and potentially-addictive sensation of pleasure. In other words, endorphins are one of the reasons why some people end up developing all sorts of addictions.
Some of the easiest and healthiest ways to stimulate the production and release of endorphins are meditation, prayer, and positive affirmations. ‘Program’ your brain to cultivate positive scenarios with affirmations, meditate your worries away, and visualize the fulfillment of your life mission.
GABA – also known as the calming molecule – stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid. It’s a fancy name for a neurochemical produced by the brain using two ingredients: glutamate and vitamin B6.
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which generates a state of calm, tranquility, and inner balance. By regulating various chemicals, hormones, and other neurotransmitters that cause over-excitability, this element helps neurons communicate more effectively. Furthermore, GABA is considered an anti-epileptic agent and the base ingredient of endorphins.
The proper functioning of your brain (and consequently your body) relies on keeping GABA at optimal levels. In fact, recent studies suggest a close link between psychological stress and GABA levels. In other words, stress can trigger imbalances in GABA levels, resulting in anxiety. But the main benefit of GABA is that it can reduce mental over-stimulation, allowing the brain to calm down and relax. Consequently, this neurochemical helps reduce stress and anxiety – two conditions which tend to occur when you take on more tasks than you can handle or spend too much time worrying.
To this day, researchers have yet to determine potential activities or habits that may regulate the activity of this neurochemical. However, experts have developed a wide spectrum of medication and supplements which are believed to stimulate the increase or decrease of GABA.
In the pursuit of your life mission, there are times when you need to take a step back, calm yourself, and approach challenges with a clear worry-free head.
Change your brain chemistry by changing your mindset
Up until now, we’ve explored how the chemistry of your brain can make you more prone to certain less-pleasant affective states or give rise to healthy behaviors. The process is both fascinating and complex.
Any imbalance or change in the neurochemicals that regulate brain activity can cause you to experience overwhelming sadness, incredible motivation, radiant joy, and many more.
But did you know that a shift in mindset can produce amazing effects regarding brain chemistry!?
Happiness, fear, love, anger, sadness, and worry can all have a tremendous impact on the neurochemicals that control brain activity.
What if you could choose to experience more positive emotions and less negative ones? What if you would only pay attention to the thoughts and feelings that produce a high vibration? What if you would refrain from futile worries and welcome optimism and hope into your life?
Your emotions and the thoughts that fuel them can produce amazing changes in brain structure and chemistry. By inviting positive thoughts, emotions, and experiences into your life, you can reshape your brain and program it to cultivate a state of well-being.
In the journey towards your life mission, the neurochemicals you choose to ‘stimulate’ through various habits will determine the outcome of your efforts.
Maintain a positive mindset to keep your brain chemistry at optimal levels. Implement the habits that I’ve described in each chapter and you will develop the mindset you need to fulfill your life mission.
|M. Murphy, S. Donovan, and E. Taylor, “THE PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF MEDITATION: A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY RESEARCH,” Institute of Noetic Sciences, 1997.
|G. Hasler, J. Willem van der Veen, C. Grillon, W. C. Drevets, and J. Shen, “Effect of Acute Psychological Stress on Prefrontal GABA Concentration Determined by Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy,” The American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 167, no. 10, 2010.