Release Dopamine -- the 'Happy Hormone' -- to Stay Motivated

Dopamine, one of the four key neurotransmitters, acts as a chemical messenger helping transmission of signals in the brain. When something good happens, a chain reaction goes off in your brain. Your reward system is activated which increases not only your attention, but also positive feedback. One of the results is motivation.
To stay motivated you can keep the stream of dopamine flowing with positive actions, such as the following:

  • Physical exercise
  • Meditation
  • Healthy living habits – good nutrition, enough sleep and down time
  • Treating yourself kindly by acknowledging success. No matter how ‘small’ this success might be – acknowledge it. For example, if you catch yourself before, during or after reacting negatively - acknowledge this. When it comes to change it does not matter when you catch yourself, as long as you do. Your brain will like the positive feedback you are giving it by acknowledging a success and will release some of the ‘Happy Hormone.’

Dopamine is a powerful chemical that decreases the stress reaction. Stress depletes the levels of dopamine, which can lead to a dopamine deficiency.
Dopamine Deficiency can result in:

  • Loss of energy and joie de vivre
  • Lack of focus
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling down
  • Lack of motivation and drive
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to reach goals

The problem with using fear as a motivator
Leaders who believe in motivating using fear will, in fact, get the opposite effect. Fear results in stress, and stress will de-motivate. When the ‘survival’ mode kicks in based on perceived fear, the emotions involved are disruptive to cognitive resources. All in all, not a good situation!
On the other hand, the release of dopamine and the feeling of motivation that results, is of utmost value. Leaders would do well to bear this in mind when they are not able to motivate by ruling with fear-based tactics.
With techniques in place helping you manage the long working hours, lack of sleep and everything else that comes with today’s work environment, you will automatically be releasing some of this ‘Happy Hormone.’ Learning the soft skills that support balancing the ups and downs of life means you are adding strengths - a win-win situation.

by Suzie Doscher