The GuardianThe Guardian

Watch Strictly, eat sauerkraut, win at Monopoly: expert tips for hacking your happy hormones

By Amy Fleming

10 Mar 2022 · 8 min read

Loretta Breuning grew up around a lot of unhappiness, but couldn’t figure out why. To try to find out, she avidly read up on psychology, alongside raising two children and working as a professor in management at California State University. “I thought that, if I followed the research, it would make everybody happy all the time,” she says. “And then I saw that my students were not that motivated, my kids were not that motivated, and the kids of social science professors were not that motivated. So I started looking for the deeper roots of our motivation and our emotions.” She went on to write a book, Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin and Endorphin Levels.

Today, when the news seems endlessly bleak, we all need an extra blast of positivity. Can harnessing our understanding of brain chemicals – from dopamine and endorphin to oxytocin and serotonin – help? Breuning, along with a number of scientists working in the field, believe so.

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