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Unmet expectations, no matter how small or unimportant, are enough to put us off. Brain research on expectations shows that dopamine cells in the brain fire off in anticipation of primary rewards. When a cue from the environment indicates that you will get a reward, dopamine releases in response.
But if you're expecting a reward and you don't get it, dopamine levels fall drastically. This feeling is akin to pain. Expecting a pay rise and not getting one can create a funk that lasts for days.
Good levels of dopamine in your prefrontal cortex are critical for focusing.
Positive expectations increase dopamine levels in the brain, and these increased levels make you more able to focus. Teachers know that children learn best when they are interested in a subject. That interest, desire, and positive expectations are variations of the increased level of dopamine in the brain.
Whether you want to be happy or improve your performance at work, it would be useful to improve how you manage expectations to create the right dopamine levels.
Research shows that happy people solve more problems and come up with more ideas. The search for happiness is perhaps really a search for the right levels of dopamine.
To create a 'happy' life, perhaps we should live a life with a good amount of novelty, create opportunities for unexpected rewards, and have a positive outlook.
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Pre-teen girls identify so much with material objects like clothes, that if they exchange it with each other, it feels that they have shared their identity.
Shopping can be socially acceptable because consumerism is continually pushed on us in the forms of posters, adverts, and signs.
Shopping is also a way of life: You need food and clothing from stores. Even if you try to stop compulsive buying by avoiding the stores in person, there is still a world of online shopping.
We often associate eating with relief or even excitement, and it’s only natural that we’d reach for those same feelings when we’re worried or sad.
Comfort foods don’t tend to be healthy. We want cake or pasta or chips when we’re emotionally eating. We have emotional memories around certain foods, which are more likely to involve your grandma’s lasagna than a salad.
But after we eat for emotional reasons, we’re replacing our original feelings with the emotions that arise out of eating.
We associate comfort food with positive memories.
Think about all the happy and comforting memories you have involving food. Maybe your family used to celebrate occasions with a trip to the ice cream shop, or maybe your mom or dad used to soften the blow of a bad day with macaroni and cheese. When you’re feeling rejected or anxious today, eating one of those foods is an instant connection to that soothing time.