Habits Of a Happy Brain

By Malcolm Gladwell


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A person’s brain produces four substances, or “happy chemicals,” that dictate how experiences make that person feel. These happy chemicals – dopamine, endorphin, oxytocin and serotonin -- create good feelings that cause people to build neural pathways, but when they repeat those pathways over and over the good feelings diminish. The key to sustained happiness is learning to form new pathways that will stimulate happy chemicals and create new good feelings.



The human brain has a great deal in common with the brains of other mammals. In all mammalian brains, the four happy chemicals are controlled by the limbic system, which releases neurochemicals when something good happens. The other key happiness-inducing part of the brain, the cortex, is much larger in human brains than in those of other mammals, and that difference allows us to regulate our limbic systems and train ourselves to create new neural pathways. “Your big cortex makes you different from other animals,” Breuning writes. “You can keep building new neural pathways and thus keep fine-tuning your efforts to meet your needs. But man does not live by cortex alone. You need your limbic system to know what’s good for you.” ...


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