“Dopamine is the neurotransmitter of pleasure and reward.

https://pixabay.com/users/Jozefm84-10215106/

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Linda Graham: “Bouncing Back”

With the release of dopamine in the brain stem we feel good, we feel alive and energized, and we want more.

Dopamine is actually partly responsible for the way we get into ruts, doing what makes us feel comfortable, getting better at what we’ve always been good at.

The neurochemical reward we get from repeating successful patterns of behavior can hold us back from trying new strategies, from discovering new ways of being and coping.

The release of dopamine can lead to addictive behaviors, too: wanting more of what made us feel good before, even if it’s not good for us.

Maybe shopping makes us feel happier, so we run up charges on our credit card until our debt is out of control, or we try to relieve our stress with too much social drinking.

Mindfulness is the key here — awareness that always involves discernment of the wholesome from the unwholesome and the effect of our choices on our resilience.

Dopamine operates on the basis of expectation.

When the brain experiences what it expects to experience — when we turn on the kitchen faucet and water comes out — dopamine levels stay steady.

If something unexpected happens — we turn on the faucet and no water comes out — the expectation is disrupted.

The disruption switches off the dopamine and generates a slight unease in the body.

A mistake has been detected.

The brain directs us to stop moving forward until we know things are okay.”

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