Blog

Loretta Breuning’s classic posts
are below. Her new posts are at:

PsychologyToday.com
The Positive Psychology People
WomenWorking.com

The Urge To Be Heard At Your Core

Expressing your needs eases your deep survival fears   You need to express yourself to feel safe. We are born with no survival skills except the ability to express pain. When you withhold your urge to be heard, you feel helpless and endangered. A human infant is the most fragile bit of protoplasm on earth….

Why It’s Always High School In Your Brain

Your teen self is still the core of who you are Does life sometimes seem like a high school cafeteria? It's not your imagination. Our brain is designed to wire itself in adolescence. Our emotional brain is inherited from earlier mammals, who struggle for status in their herd or pack or troop. As a result,…

How Baboons Choose Their Leaders

Patronage works in the Baboon World Every baboon troop is led by an alpha who holds power until ousted by a challenger. Brute force makes you alpha among small-brained mammals like bovines, but in the primate world, power is won by trading favors. Baboons have curiously familiar ways of winning support. They share meat after…

Feeling Good Is a Learned Skill: Dwelling on your gifts wires in good feelings.

"When I'm good no one remembers.   When I'm bad no one forgets." This lament rings true for most people. What if you fed your brainwith appreciation for yourself? It may sound like cheating, but it works. It won't win you a Nobel Prize, but it triggers brain chemistry akin to winning. Appreciating yourself is not like…

Score! Dopamine! Repeat! Or Not: Why goals don’t bring satisfaction.

Reaching a goal triggers dopamine. That feels great, but the spurt soon ends. Then you become who you were before the spurt. If you’re not comfortable with that, you can get caught up in endless efforts to stimulate more dopamine with more goal-seeking.  We're uncomfortable with dopamine dips for good reason, of course. Unhappy chemicals command your…

Why Love Is a Neurochemical Roller Coaster

Love makes your happy chemicals surge, but they always dip. Love triggers dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. That's why it's so motivating. But happy chemicals come in spurts. They do their job by turning off after they turn on. When your happy chemicals dip, you might interpret it as a loss of love. That turns a natural fluctuation…

Control the World or Control Yourself?

I wouldn’t need self-control if the world would just shape up In a perfect world, ice cream would have no calories, I would win every tennis match I played, and everyone I loved would love me back.  Then I wouldn't need self-control. I wouldn't need to practice. And unconditional love would follow me around. Alas, the world…

Good Habits Make You Feel Like You’re Gonna Die

Carrot sticks can make you as happy as donuts in 45 days.   If you have a bad habit, it’s because your brain thinks it’s good for survival. If you eat a donut when you’re annoyed, for example, it’s because your brain has experienced the donut's ability to transform a bad feeling into a good feeling. Bad…

Nature Gave Us Four Kinds of Happiness: A balanced diet of happy chemicals nourishes your brain.

Happiness is just a neurochemical spurt. Four different brain chemicals create happy feelings, and you need all of them to feel good. You miss out when you rely on one or two old familiar ways of triggering your happy chemicals. You can enjoy a balanced happy chemical diet. if you know the distinct kind of happiness each brain chemical evolved for. Endorphin…

What a Let-Down! When your happy chemicals dip, your brain concocts failure.

Your brain evolved to look for problems. You get a break while your happy chemicals are surging, but when the surge ends your brain goes back to looking for problems. For example, the first bite of an ice cream cone feels fabulous. When you eat the last delicious bite, there's a sudden sense of loss….