RSS Feed

‘Book Reviews’ Category

  1. Book Review: Habits of a Happy Brain

    January 27, 2016 by Diane

    I thought I’d start including book reviews on my site while I’m still off fishing. Here’s my most recent. Let me know if you like this feature!

    Habits of a Happy Brain

    I’ve read several books on rewiring the brain to overcome anxiety and depression by changing our thoughts. And goodness knows there’s a plethora of books on happiness. So I was pleased to discover a new angle on both subjects, because frankly, I’m stressed, and I would love to have those feel-good chemicals zipping around my body instead of the cortisol and adrenaline that I manufacture in Costco proportions.

    Imagine how delighted I was to discover that I can train my brain to switch on those happy chemicals and increase my feeling of well-being. What a nifty trick! I was eager to find out how.

    To begin with, the brain, I learned, has a big job to do: ensuring my survival. Which it seems to be doing rather seriously, ringing all those alarm bells 24/7. But when it sees something good for me, it shoots out those feel-good chemicals: dopamine, endorphin, oxytocin, and serotonin. Yay! The problem is, they don’t last long. Boo. They fizzle out and turn off. Pfft. Gone. And once again, my mammalian brain is back to scanning the environment for danger. Which it finds. Daily. In the news. On the radio. In the mirror. In my imagination.

    So how do I keep more of those feel-good chemicals active? Thankfully, this book explains the process. The author takes the reader through an explanation of how and why the mammal brain works the way it does, why it creates unhappiness, how new experiences stimulate the happy guys, and how to rewire the brain through 45 days of new habits.

    Wait, 45 days? I thought it only took 21 days to learn a new habit.

    Well, apparently 45 days is the required amount of time to boost these chemicals, so 45 days it is.

    But first, I need to know which of the good guys I’m lacking. Is it dopamine, that rewards me when I get what I need? Is it endorphin, that allows me to ignore pain? Is it oxytocin, that enables me to trust others and find safety in companionship? Or is it serotonin, motivating me to get respect?

    Well, let’s face it, I want more than 38 subscribers to my blog. And more than two retweets on my tweets. But isn’t that just an ego thing? Or is it a lack of serotonin?

    And yeah, I feel lonely, even though I’m around people every day. So maybe oxytocin is what I need.

    And I’m definitely aware of every twinge in my body, so it’s clear my endorphins aren’t doing their job.

    And I don’t always get what I need, or at least I don’t feel like I always get what I need, or have the time to achieve all that I want, so is lack of dopamine the culprit?

    The good news is, once I figure out which happy chemicals I’m short on, I can use the tools in this book to balance and easily access all four. How cool is that!

    My take? If  you struggle with anxiety or depression and want to feel more in control of your happiness, this is a book you might want to read. I also recommend it to ye who are fascinated by neuroscience and how to rewire the brain. Uh, that would be me.