Habits of a Happy Brain is one of my recommended books for game. And with good reason. Loretta Bruening breaks down the four brain chemicals that make you happy.
This matters because my goal is life is to maximize by long term happiness. And so building a life for myself that maximizes my happiness in line with how the brain actually works is key to a life of success.
The four brain chemicals that make you happy are:
- Dopamine – produces the joy of finding things that meet your needs. This is the reward your brain produces when you achieve a goal.
- Endorphin – produces oblivion that masks pain—often called euphoria. This is the reward your brain produces in response to exercise.
- Oxytocin – produces the feeling of being safe with others. This is the reward your brain produces with pair bonding.
- Serotonin – produces the feeling of being respected by others—pride. This is the reward your brain produces when receiving esteem from others.
That is all we get. Your brain only has these four happiness chemicals.
And your brain only releases these happy chemicals when you take steps towards meeting your needs.
But the challenge with this is that your brain is always looking for the next great way to meet your needs. Old rewards, even creamy, delicious ones, don’t command your brain’s attention. This is called habituation.
So why should we care?
Given the above and how the brain is wired, if we want consistent long term happiness in life we have to constantly be striving towards new goals and making progress in relationships.
It also means we have to constantly mix things up. We habituate quickly to too much of any one stimulus. There is no end game.
Use this knowledge as you will. We all have to find our own way in life, but I can share how I’ve applied this key learning to my own:
- Dopamine – the reward for hitting goals
- Have a big, challenging but achievable mission in life that will take years to achieve.
- Have daily and yearly goals against this mission, to feel the dopamine hits from regular progress.
- Always be gaming new women. Even if I find the perfect relationship in life I’ll still need the enjoyment of closing new women.
- Endorphins – the euphoric recovery to pain
- Work out regularly. Challenge my body several times a week to feel this reward in the recovery.
- Oxytocin – the reward for pair bonding
- For me this means having one or more regular girls in my life. Women I actually enjoying spending time with beyond just sex.
- There is a known players curse that if you just do sport fucks eventually you fall hard and get oneitis for a girl because you’ve been missing out on oxytocin. Don’t fall in to this trap, always have multiple women in your life and at least one that you like enough to pair bond with to some degree.
- Cultivate non-sexual relationships with your family, your pets etc where you get pair-bonding beyond the women in your life. Like a portfolio the key is diversification and getting this from multiple sources and not just one.
- Serotonin – earned reward from respect
- I’ve found this best comes as you earn respect from your peer group. Whether that’s being acknowledged as someone to go to for help and advice, or even by keeping a small blog like this one. Interacting with peers and receiving their genuine respect is the best way I know to earn this one.
The key thing to remember is that these happiness chemicals work just like exercise. You have to find multiple daily sources of all of these things, mixed up on a regular basis. One time events don’t cut it any more than doing one workout makes you fit for life. It has to be a habit.
In addition, you need to be getting your happiness from all four sources and not just one. That is why players who just focus on dopamine fueled rewards just from fucking new girls don’t find happiness and eventually burn out. Like a balanced diet you need multiple sources.
You can use this same happiness model with the women in your life that you want to retain. If you can regularly stimulate all of these happiness chemicals in a girl she will want to be in your life, and this is the secret to retention:
- Mix up your dates. Avoid doing the same activity twice, avoid taking her to the same place twice. Keep things fresh.
- Future projection – (truthfully) give her detailed scenarios to image of the two of you in the future (for example a trip or future activity) and then over time fulfill the scenario. Give her that gift of anticipation.
- Mix up the type of sex you give her. This can even be in the same session. Sometimes rough, sometimes emotional, sometimes in bed, sometimes in a public toilet. Always keep it fresh.
- Give her the gift of missing you. Don’t text much when you’re not with her and only see her once a week or less.
- The rewards from endorphins explain why women enjoy rough sex and BDSM. I’ve yet to meet a girl who doesn’t love being fucked rough from time to time, if not every time. Be dominant and fuck her good.
- If you want a girl to stick around for more than the occasional sport fuck, mix in cuddling and intimacy. This works best during the 20 minutes after sex. If you want her as a regular don’t just jump up after sex, cuddle and talk with her a bit afterwards. It’s a huge hit of oxytocin. If rough sex is the “push” cuddling afterwards is the “pull”.
- From time to time acknowledge her uniqueness or something she does that wins your approval. This has to be random to have the best effect. Don’t overdo it – think of Heartiste’s old rule of the golden ratio – giving her 2/3’s of everything she gives you.
There is a negative counterpoint to this as well. Just as doing the above stimulates your happiness chemicals, not doing the above will make you unhappy.
So withdrawing attention and not doing the above for a woman will make her feel the loss of you, and crave having you back.
This is the “Push” in the push/pull dance that is game. It is necessary to avoid habituation. And as the man you need to lead this experience for her. It’s what she craves because it’s how her brain is wired.
And more importantly this means in life if you’re not working towards goals and making progress, not exercising regularly, not pair-bonding with key relationships, not gaming new girls, and not earning the esteem of your peers…..you will be unhappy.
We are wired to be rewarded for being high value.
13 thoughts on “The Secret to Happiness – In Life and in Game”
Great post. Liked the players curse anecdote.
And keeping these things in balance is tough. I’m here to learn about gaming, but appreciate that you added context about keeping girls around for various roles in your life. Not all of us want to run through randoms as a standard MO.
Creating and maintaining a connection, for whatever time frame, is an important topic that I appreciate seeing you write about.
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Thanks for the ideas about seratonin, I’ve been considering ways to improve this one considering it has such a strong correlation with the dominance hierarchy.
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Great post, as per usual.
However if I may add one small quibble: to my knowledge the current understanding of dopamine is not that it is a reward hormone, rather it is the hormone that let’s one anticipate a hormone.
I.e. it is not the reward itself, but it can motivate you to achieve a reward.
On the flipside dopamine is also the reason, why one can scroll for hours through their Twitter feed without gaining any real pleasure from it.
That being said, I don’t think it changes your any of recommendations.
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You may be right, it’s been a while since I read the book.
But yes it doesn’t change the recommendations on how to apply it
So you would say a 100% monogamous relationship is unfeasible in the long-term if you want to stay happy as a man?
I’m asking because I’ve recently gotten together with a girl that “ticks all the boxes” for me, but still when I see hot girls walking past me every day I regret not approching and even trying to close them (and life has become a bit boring without the thrill of the chase to be honest). I’m kind of wondering right now if I should just go for it
Ultimately you have to choose what’s right for you. And as the man you’re the lead in any relationship.
I can share what I’ve chosen for myself. As a man who can consistently bring new attractive women in my life I don’t see myself being able to be monogamous again, unless something happens to greatly drop my sex drive.
But knowing this is good news. I’ve found as long as I’m congruent about this from the very beginning with meeting a girl, they accept it, and sometimes even encourage it. Women are prepared to share a high value man.
There’s a lot to doing this right, but the key point here is that if you’re 100% congruent in your actions that you are a man who sleeps with other women and you don’t promise monogamy or try to “define the relationship,” you can have multiple women in your life who knowingly leave you free to date as you like.
Check out my “rules of retention” post for more about my approach to this:
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Great post and book recommendation. I’ve heard quite about these chemicals in various game blogs, but never bothered looking up the nuances. It helps to see them broken down in the practice of various scenarios. The book has been written to my ever-growing list.
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The ultimate ongoing dopamine hit is kids and becoming a patriarch. Even with older kids (empty nest stage) and almost no contact with my ex-wife, there’s still a lot to continue building and supporting. The next stage is becoming a grandparent someday.
Our society glorifies short-term thinking and especially preys upon women’s (and sometimes men’s) fear of missing out (FOMA). More vacations to exotic places instead of saving some money. More sex and going to more parties instead of settling down and having kids. Drugs/alcohol just amplify the effect. More is better, since it maximizes profits.
Watching sports, porn, video game achievements, Instagram likes, Snapchat whatever, Facebook drivel, more notches (for players), new car, exotic vacation, etc. Both genders get sucked into false goals (mostly for guys) and false status (mostly for women). Eventually, the dopamine hits from all this fake stuff becomes negligible. You begin to feel like you’re stuck in Groundhog Day.
I’m not saying that I don’t have fond memories of past vacations, girlfriends, or video game achievements. There’s a balance to be had between the short-term (fun) fake stuff and the long-term goals that matter. The right balance is different for everyone.
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