The brain is an amazing organ, that’s why it’s responsible for our thoughts and actions. Yet the brain is not a static organ; in order to work optimally, it needs to be stimulated with different stimuli throughout life. This blog post will explore how you can use your brain chemistry to build a better mindset.
One of the factors that play into your mindset is the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine helps regulate movement and coordination, rewards us for our activities and behaviors, assists memory function and plays an important role in addiction recovery.
One of the more interesting characteristics of dopamine is that it doesn’t just dominate our thoughts and behaviors, but it’s also responsible for setting the tone for our entire mindset. This is because dopamine’s influence extends beyond conscious awareness.
The subconscious brain is made up of 90% of the brain’s cells, yet it only processes information at about 40 bits per second, whereas the conscious mind can only process about 50 bits per second. So what does this mean? Your subconscious mind literally creates your reality for you.
Through dopamine pathways, your subconscious mind controls 99% of your thoughts and behaviors. As a result, when you stimulate dopamine functions in the nervous system, your subconscious mind responds by controlling emotions, attitudes, perceptions and behaviors in ways that you may not even be aware of.
Dopamine and Positive Emotions
Positive emotions are directly associated with healthy dopamine production. This is because dopamine is an ‘activity-based’ hormone that promotes activity between neurons in the brain. This explains why when you feel good, you tend to act in ways that are productive and rewarding.
In fact, dopamine functions as a reward-chasing hormone. In other words, it rewards us with feelings of pleasure and fun when we are in action and when we listen to music. These feelings help us promote healthy dopamine flows throughout the brain.
However, in order to be able to experience dopamine pleasure you must also be exposed to somatic states (positive emotions) that create a sense of self-awareness. For example, when we listen to music and experience the immediate sense of rhythm, we are using dopamine pathways that are associated with the pleasure and fun of being in action.
Dopamine and Negative Emotions
Conversely, negative emotions like stress and anxiety inhibit dopamine production by up to 60%. This is because there is a higher demand for dopamine when you experience stress, leading to a potential depletion in the release of dopamine. This means that when you’re in a state of stress, you find it harder to get excited and stay motivated.
In addition, there is also a potential ‘up-regulation’ of dopamine pathways in the brain when we experience negative emotions. This means that when we are stressed or anxious, there is an increased demand for dopamine, stimulating the release of more dopamine into the system.
Dopamine and Motivation
Dopamine plays an important role in helping us set and achieve our goals. However, dopamine doesn’t just influence motivation, it also controls movement and coordination. This is why when you are in action and feel good, you are able to stay motivated.
On the contrary, if your dopamine pathways are under-stimulated or inhibited by negative emotions, you can find it difficult to stay focused and motivated.