I, Mammal: Why Your Brain Links Status and Happiness

0000-00-00 00:00:00 by Loretta Graziano Breuning
I, Mammal: Why Your Brain Links Status and Happiness by Loretta Graziano Breuning

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Loretta Graziano Breuning
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Mammals seek dominance because it stimulates their happy chemicals. An appetite for status develops as naturally as the appetite for food and sex. Status hierarchies emerge spontaneously as each individual strives to meet their needs and avoid harm. You would never think this way in words, but your mammal brain uses neurochemicals instead of words. When you understand the private lives of animals, your neurochemical ups and downs make sense. You have inherited the operating system that helped mammals thrive for millions of years. Nothing is wrong with us. We are mammals. You may say you're "against status." But if you filled a room with people who said they were anti-status, a hierarchy would soon form based on how anti-status they are. That's what mammals do. Our neurochemical ups and downs make sense when you look at the private lives of animals. The field notes of a primatologist are eerily similar to the lyrics of a country western song. A biology textbook resembles a soap opera script. The mammal brain cannot put its reactions into words, so the human cortex struggles to make sense of the limbic system it's attached to. We can finally make sense of our hybrid brain thanks to an accumulation of research in animal science and neuroscience. The frustrations of social hierarchies are not caused by "our society." We are simply heirs to the brain that helped mammals thrive for two hundred million years. It's not easy being human with a mammalian operating system. But when you understand the neurochemistry of mammals, you can stop focusing on our flaws and simply celebrate how well we do with the mental equipment we've got. Mammals live in groups for protection from predators, but group life can be frustrating. Some herd mates always seem to get the best mating opportunities and foraging spots. Fortunately, the mammal brain evolved to handle this. It releases stress chemicals when a mammal needs to hold back to avoid conflict. And it emits happy chemicals- serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins, when a mammal sees a way to forge ahead and meet its needs.


I, Mammal: Why Your Brain Links Status and Happiness

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