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6 mins

Doping on The Job: The One Chemical that Can Make You Happier at Work

Here’s one sly way you can control your own hormones to feel happier on the daily.
by Sarah Moriarty | Apr 1 2015
What do pride, domination, and respect have in common?


They all trigger the release of serotonin in your brain, a chemical vital to happiness and motivation in the workplace. Serotonin explains the rush that successful people get when they’re in key positions doing great things.

But what about if you’re not satisfied with your position in the workplace? Happiness should still be a priority, and the good thing is, you have more control over it than you think.

In Meet Your Happy Chemicals, Loretta Graziano Breuning shares what she’s learned about happiness through her study of the social behavior of mammals. She explains how our brains are wired, and what we can do to subtly manipulate that wiring.

When you see something good for your survival, your happy hormones surge. This feedback loop is strengthened from past experiences. So, that time you got chosen to be the captain of your kickball team as a kid actually triggered the release of serotonin and helped train your brain to associate superiority with happiness. Your brain’s current wiring is mostly shaped by moments like this from childhood, but it’s possible to control and rewire your brain to be happy even as an adult.

So, in order to be happier at work, you’ll want to create a workplace environment that reinforces the serotonin feedback loop. Here’s your best long-term option.

Accept your status to feel the serotonin surge

In the workplace, you’re often relying on fleeting situations to get your next happiness fix. A fantastic meeting, a snazzy new marketing plan, a brand new computer—they can put you on top of the world, but usually for a short period of time. It’s generally advantageous for you to look for a more reliable, big picture solution for steady serotonin release. Breuning says the best place to start is by accepting your current position and social status in the workplace.

How to do it: Focus on the positive aspects of your current position for 45 days straight. This is the time needed to change how your brain is wired. If you’re in a higher position, you might want to acknowledge everything you’ve achieved and enjoy the respect you get from colleagues. If you’re in a lower position, you can enjoy your free time and not worry about having to defend your position. You can also relax knowing you’re not holding the bulk of responsibility on your shoulders.

After 45 days, you’ll likely feel both relief and happiness. Instead of having to force yourself to see the positives about your current position, your brain will be wired to do it automatically – with plenty of serotonin to boot.

Interested in how you can trick the other 3 human happy chemicals – dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin – to work for you? Pick up a copy of Meet Your Happy Chemicals by Loretta Graziano Breuning, or read the summary in blinks in which you’ll also learn:

  • More on why dominating others makes us feel happy; and
  • Why true happiness is only ever 45 days away, and
  • Why your unhappy chemicals are just as important as the gladdening ones.
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