Your Happy Brain, Connection and the Science Behind It

I saw an article this week about four different “feel good” neurochemicals that are released in our brains at different times.

It was an amazing confirmation that we were designed on purpose to love and be loved, to never quit and to overcome.  Our brains were designed to release “feel good” chemicals with behaviors or connections we were designed for.


How amazing is it that when I am in relationship being supported and supporting others, my brain tells me everything is OK?  When I am disconnected and doing life alone, my brain tells me I am not OK and something is wrong.

Why is that? Because we were created in Gods image (Genesis 1:27).  God is the ultimate example of connection and support in the Trinity – Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

The other day we talked about this in our staff meeting and we came up with some different scripture verses that connect our brain chemistry with instructions God gave for our well being.

Take a look at this.

Dopamine

Dopamine  motivates us to take action toward goals, desires, and needs, and gives a surge of reinforcing pleasure when achieving them. Procrastination, self-doubt, and lack of enthusiasm are linked with low levels of dopamine.  One way to help this is to set your sights on something ahead and set smaller goals that you can reach on a regular basis to feel that sense of accomplishment and progress.

  • Hebrews 12 – who for joy set before him (Jesus) endured the cross
  • Hebrews 11 – He is a rewarder of those who seek him
  • Phil. 3:14 – I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

 

Serotonin

Serotonin flows when you feel significant or important. Loneliness and depression appear when serotonin is absent.  That is why gratitude practices are popular. They remind us that we are valued and have much to value in life. That is why it’s important to remember testimony and write things down – past victories and achievements.

  •  1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
  • Psalms‬ ‭103:1-5‬ ‭NLT  “Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!” ‭‭‬‬
  • “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬
  • Others: Jer 29:11, Matt 6, Psalm 139, Luke 15,  1 Peter 2:9, Isaiah 43 Written on palm of hand no one can snatch us out, Jer 31:3, Phil 4:13
  • Recognize and remember that you are loved and cared for releases Serotonin – rewarded for obedience to give thanks.

 

Oxytocin

Oxytocin creates intimacy, trust, and builds hey sense of connection in healthy relationships.  Often referred to as the cuddle hormone, a simple way to keep oxytocin flowing is to give someone a hug. Dr. Paul Zak explains that inter-personal touch not only only raises oxytocin, but reduces cardiovascular stress and improves the immune system; rather than just a hand shake, go in for the hug. Dr. Zak recommends eight hugs each day.

Also, when someone receives a gift, their oxytocin levels can rise. You can strengthen work and personal relationships through a simple birthday or anniversary gift.

  • Romans 16:16 greeting family of God with a holy kiss  (** WHOA NOW  haha before you get any crazy ideas this was a customary greeting of affection )
  • Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
  • James 4:8 draw near to me and I will draw near to you
  • Song of Songs 2:6 affection for spouse
  • Heb. 13:5 never will I leave you or forsake you

 

Endorphins

Endorphins are released in response to pain and stress and help to alleviate anxiety and depression. The surging “second wind” and euphoric “runners high” during and after a vigorous run are a result of endorphins. Similar to morphine, it acts as an analgesic and sedative, diminishing our perception of pain.

Along with regular exercise, laughter is one of the easiest ways to induce endorphin release.

  • Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.
  • John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
  • Nehemiah 8:10 the Joy of the Lord is my strength
  • 1 Peter 5:7 cast your cares on the Lord, resist your enemy and stand firm
  • John 16:33 Be of good cheer I go to prepare a place for you Laughter

 

Amazing, huh?  I love it when science catches up with things God told us thousands of years ago.  All of this highlights the truth that mental and physical health are optimum in connection and community.

Isolation is dangerous to mental health.  We were designed for connection and when we just simply do what God says to do we will be mentally and emotionally healthy.

Sometimes if one’s experience has been that close relationships are painful, they might end up running from the very thing the Father has provided that produces healing and wholeness in our soul.  The truth is we will all find comfort somewhere.  The downside is that if we do not find comfort and joy in healthy relationships we will end up finding false ways to mimick those “good feelings” in the brain.  I saw sime reseaech a year ago that said the cause of addictions and damaging behaviors was a lack of relational connection.  Addictions are simply alternative ways to coax the brain to release “feel good” chemicals in the brain.  The downside is we end up  “bonding” to temporary, empty and unhealthy behaviors that cannot satisfy and often end up controlling us.  We were designed to be “bonded” but not in “bondage”.

We were made in His image to do what He does and feel what He feels.

Related Links:

When we do what God does, we feel what God feels.

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