Neuroscience Shows How Following Your Passion Makes You Happy
The new discoveries of neuroscience now reveal that following your passion and doing what you love does in fact make you happier and stronger both mentally and emotionally, and not from a philosophical but rather a chemical point of view. This is a long article, but it is worth reading all the way.PASSION TAKES LONG-TERM COMMITMENT
to explore, discover, experiment and grow in a specific domain of interest. When you are driven by passion, you want to expand your performance beyond your actual limits. To accomplish this, there are two important drivers:
EXPLORE – Seeking new challenges, engaging in critical and creative thinking, intense ideation sessions, problem-solving and developing new skills to make progress in a challenging environment.
CONNECT – Bonding with like-minded people who share a similar passion, developing deep and trust-based relationships with smart people who might have insights that help you with your passion.
When you set out to EXPLORE, you CONNECT with people and forge more trust-based relationships. When you CONNECT, those strong bonds empower you to EXPLORE more challenging ideas together.
Here’s where neuroscience comes in:
The brain’s two most powerful neurotransmitters – dopamine and oxytocin – are directly connected, they reward and reinforce the EXPLORATION and CONNECTION required in pursuit of passions. How it works:
DOPAMINE: When we EXPLORE and undertake difficult challenges, our brain releases dopamine which gives us a sense of pleasure and increases our motivation to pursue the anticipated reward. Dopamine drives our passion to EXPLORE, and is more associated with the anticipation of reward rather than the actual reward. Dopamine excites and keeps us going on the long road of our passion.
OXYTOCIN: When we CONNECT with other like-minded people through all sorts of social interactions, our brain releases oxytocin which gives us a calming, soothing feeling. People with higher levels of oxytocin are more trusting, empathetic and generous. In return these behaviours reinforce the release of oxytocin which strengthens the human connection even more.
Here’s the incredible circle that forms when we follow our passion in life:
Passion provides the spark for you to focus on what you love to EXPLORE
DOPAMINE rapidly kicks in to sustain your focus over long periods of time and during increasingly challenging tasks, actions and goals that are in the service of your passion.
Passion provides the spark for you to focus and look to CONNECT with other people who share your passion, and work together to reach success faster.
OXYTOCIN provides rewarding feelings of trust, generosity and deep human connection as people come together driven by a shared passion.
Neurones That Fire Together, Wire Together
The brain over time evolves its patterns. As these two neurotransmitters are released more often in your brain, the brain becomes more adapted to pursuing your passion more and more effectively. Your passion literally changes your brain and then your brain makes you more efficient to pursue your passion and get positive results faster.
Without passion to provide the sustained focus required by our dreams, and to generate the dopamine and oxytocin to drive and reward our passion, we will have an almost impossible task to be happy and draw meaning and fulfilment from our work.
PS: If you enjoy these conversations, subscribe below and get the most inspiring stories of the week straight to your Inbox.