Episode 66 – The Biology of Happiness

Biology of Happiness

Can we increase our wellbeing through a biology lesson? In this episode Chris, David and Producer Tommo explore the science behind the chemicals in our brains responsible for happiness. With plenty of takeaways on sensible ways to increase our wellbeing, a Bage’s Bias and a special little guest in the #tightasstommo segment, it is easier than ever to find a little happiness with The Financial Wellbeing Podcast!

 

(scroll to the very bottom of the post to listen to the episode)

Welcomes and Introductions

David shares some great news about his novel, Producer Tommo adds to his introduction list and Chris thinks he has bagged a Guinness World Record!

Click on this link for more information on the IFW – the Institute for financial advisors and others to help make the world a happier place through financial wellbeing.

What is this podcast all about

Can we increase our financial wellbeing through biology? The guys take a look at four chemicals in our brain that are the most responsible for happiness and explore some ideas on how we can increase their effectiveness.

Bage’s Biases

Every episode, Behavioral Finance expert, Neil Bage is going to be giving us his money behavioral tip. Exploring and thinking a little bit about the behavioral traits we have towards money can inform us, so we can make better money decisions going forward.
– Link to Episode 36 – Understanding our attitude to risk
– Link to Episode 21 – Financial capability
– Link to BeIQ | Beam App

This episode – Confidence

TightAssTommo

Has #tightasstommo taken over Producer Tommo’s life?

How to save rocket (but do we mean the salad kind or the explosive kind?!)

A special little guest joins the podcast

Click on this link to visit the Nimber.com website

Today’s Topic – The Biology of Happiness

Catherine Morgan – a financial coach and friend of the podcast, inspired this episode. She is a board member on the IFW, a real innovator in helping people to understand their relationship to money.

Click here for a link to the Bananatreelog website and here for a link to the Twitter profile

We are looking for a more permanent solution to happiness than a few #lockdownlibations!

  • Endorphin – from exercise. Can relieve stress and pain (can be addictive in excess)
  • Dopamine – from getting what you desire. Can help motivate you
  • Serotonin – from when we are admired or respected
  • Oxytocin – from physical and social contact. Can help build and sustain relationships

Word of warning – Framing Bias

(have a listen to Episode 65, at 3.36 Neil Bage explains what Framing Bias is)

We need to be careful when it comes to language around these chemicals. Be clear about what makes us happy – is is different for each person and we have individual needs.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivations

(have a listen to Episode 42 with Tim Kasser for more details)

  • Intrinsic = we do it because we want to do it / creates wellbeing
  • Extrinsic = we do it for someone else, such as to please or impress someone / has no effect on our wellbeing

Some ideas on what can we do to get these chemicals flowing

The five parts to overall wellbeing;

  • Career Wellbeing
  • Social Wellbeing
  • Financial Wellbeing
  • Physical Wellbeing
  • Community Wellbeing

Money is a tool to bring about happiness, focusing on money in itself will actually reduce our wellbeing.

Producer Tommo

What do these chemicals mean from a financial point of view?

Serotonin and hallucinogenic drugs – don’t do drugs kids!

The importance of finding sensible ways to increase overall wellbeing. The five areas of wellbeing need to be balanded with each other.

Conclusions from the guys


Do you have any financial wellbeing questions you would like us to answer? Or do you have a #tightasstommo money saving tip you would like to share with our listeners?

If so, let us know by going to Twitter @Finwellbeing or email – contact@financialwell-being.co.uk

If you would like to purchase a copy of The Financial Wellbeing Book please click on this link to visit Penny Brohn UK shop


Transcribe of the Podcast Script:

David 0:14
Hello, everybody, and welcome to another one in our series of financial wellbeing podcasts. My name is David Lloyd, I’m a writer and actor and podcaster. General bon vivant, man about town. Well man about village actually, Backwell where I live, where also lives, the kind of prime creator of this podcast, Chris Budd, Chris hello

Chris 0:36
How are we doing David? Currently I am the man about my front room, with lockdown, that’s about as far as I can take it I reckon. So yeah, we’ve got the Financial Wellbeing Book, which I wrote a few years ago now. And the Initiative of Financial Wellbeing, the Institute for financial advisors and others to help make the world a happier place. So come and check that out everybody because it is doing very interesting things at the moment during this lockdown period.

David 1:00
And Tommo, who the hell are you?

Producer Tommo 1:03
Every week. All right, let’s see, see how long my list is doing. As you two have put a great few together. So primarily, I am a director and Chartered Financial Planner at Ovation Finance. I’m also a director at the Initiative of Financial Wellbeing and also a very busy father, who is enjoying lockdown with a toddler. Thank goodness for the sunshine at the moment.

David 1:35
Fantastic. And you’re also my financial advisor Tom, and a very good one you are too and a very, very lovely man you are too, I just want to put that out there.

Producer Tommo 1:43
Bless you. I’ll tell you what, it’s another check in the post. I, this is’nt very good money saving tips from me I’ll tell you. This is costing me a fortune.

David 1:52
Excellent. Right, what’s on today’s podcast, Chris?

Chris 1:55
Today we are going to look at the four chemicals in our brain that are most responsible for happiness. We are going to have a little chat about what they are and how we might be able to increase their effectiveness.

David 2:10
Interesting, now before we come on to that actually I’ve got a bit of news. I know sometimes we like to come up with a bit of personal news. As, as you know, you certainly know Chris, and I think I’ve made reference to it over the years in the podcast. I have been writing the novel. I’m nowhere near as prolific as you, Chris, but I’ve been doing other writing stuff as well. But yesterday, I managed to type those two marvelous words, The End, which was absolutely fantastic,. It’s only the 1st draft, I’m going to have to go back and look at it again and rework bits of it. But I finally got to almost three years from when I first started it. So I have to confess I shed a little tear.

Chris 2:47
Yeah, big moment, fantastic well done. And now the fun bit begins, I think, which is the editing and getting it all down first time around is one thing, but I really like going back over the words and into the sentences. As Neil Gaiman put it – getting down amongst the words.

Unknown Speaker 3:02
Exactly, no, I enjoy that. And I have to say I’ve been doing some of that has been going along. It’s been so long since I started it, you know, I need to go back now and look at the thing. When I started it, I didn’t even know how it’s gonna finish. So.

Chris 3:15
Do you now?

David 3:16
I do now yes! I need to, so I need to go back and just make sure that it all makes sense. Anyway, that’s my little bit of news.

Chris 3:23
I have some some similar views in a way, that I also have finished the third draft of my of my novel that we’re working on for a few years. And I think I broke a new record. I think I’m the proud owner of the Guinness Book of Records, I sent off my draft to some literary agents last Wednesday. And about 6:30 in the evening, and I got my first rejection at 8:30 The next morning.

David 3:47
That’s quick work.

Chris 3:50
I reckon I deserve some sort of reward for that. I’m not quite sure what?

Producer Tommo 3:53
I love the way you’re finding the positives in such a quick rejection.

Chris 3:58
I’ve had a lot of rejections

David 3:59
Well, this is part and parcel of being a writer and it comes back to this. I’m sure I’ve used this expression in the podcast in other context before. A no, is just a deferred yes. You always need to remember that. So in order to get the yes, you have to keep asking the question.

Chris 4:18
Yeah, quite. There is a genuine wellbeing bit here, because I was talking about this with Susie. I have two novels, published, self published. And so I’ve got an awful lot of rejection slips. But they don’t actually make a difference to me anymore. Because I’m not writing to be heard. Particularly. I’m not writing to make money. I know that I’ll have, I don’t know 50, 60, 100, 200 people will read a book. Well 200 will be fantastic. But even if it just 10 that’s made it worthwhile. It’s the fun of writing it I write because I can’t not write. And that’s why I do it. So actually, the rejection slips are not genuinely that big a deal. Having said that a five movie deal would be nice. I’m not going to turn it down.

David 4:57
Well, anyway, well good luck with yours, and we’ll see what happens with mine and I will keep you all informed. Right then, let’s move on. Let’s have the first of our regular features. Well I say a regular feature, it’s a relatively new feature. It’s where we get Neil Bage, an old friend of the podcast to come up with one of the Bages Behavioral Biases, what have you got fo us this week Chris?

Chris 5:22
This week, Neil’s going to talk about confidence. Here we go.

Neil Bage 5:26
Now, the first bias I’d like to talk about today is over confidence or more to the point confidence. Now, I’m pretty confident that everybody listening to this podcast knows what confidence is. That sometimes it’s easy to spot. But most of the time, it’s really well hidden, disguised in just who we are. We aren’t really equipped with the ability to just look at someone without any degree of interaction and gauge how confident or not they are. We often confuse bravado, the extrovert with confidence and the quiet person, the introverts with under confidence, and that simply isn’t a true reflection of people and their abilities. An extrovert at a party, you know, the person dancing and joking around with everyon,e may appear very confident. But that doesn’t necessarily map across to that person’s confidence when it comes to making financial decisions. Just like risk taking, which is domain specific. Confidence could also be domain specific. But how do we measure confidence? Well, we measure it by looking at the difference between a person’s subjective knowledge, what they think they know, and a person’s objective knowledge, which is what they really do know. And understanding the difference between the two is absolutely crucial in understanding whether a person is under confident, or whether a person is overconfident. Now we often hear over confidence being talked about a lot in relation to investment decision making. But under confidence can be just as problematic when people are trying to make important decisions. People who are exhibiting under competence have low subjective knowledge. In other words, they think they know a little, but actually they have high objective knowledge. In other words, they know a lot. And this means that when they are being asked to use that underlying knowledge, they will feel as if it’s not good enough, or in the best case scenario, they seek the help of an advisor. In the worst case, they put off making a decision altogether, purely based on the fact that they believe they haven’t got the right skills to make the decision. And when we talk about this in relation to overconfidence, people who have high subjective knowledge, they think they know a lot, but they have low objective knowledge, they actually know very little, it’s easy to see how, in certain instances, we can come unstuck pretty quick. So accepting what you know, accepting, don’t know, means that we can make decisions with the right level of confidence, which should hopefully lead to the right outcome for you.

David 8:12
So if I can sum that up. We’ve got to be wary about being overconfident because the danger is that we will attempt to do things actually, we’re not able to do but also we’ve got to be careful about being under confident because we won’t atempt to do things which we are well capable of achieving.

Chris 8:29
Yeah , that’s really good. And in money terms, you might get people who say I’m not very good with money. You know, you hear that quite a lot. Well, what does it actually mean? It’s worth exploring that a little bit by thinking about how you actually make money decisions. So Neil and I are doing some, a series of webinars together or course really its x3 90 minute webinars. And listening to some of the stuff that he comes up with on this is just absolutely fascinating. They’re probably already done by the time this podcast comes out. But if anybody wants to have a listen to them, and download them later, they can do , just get in touch with us.

Producer Tommo 9:02
If you don’t mind me jumping in, David, but you’re going to experience this, we’re actually, we’ve actually teamed up with Neil. And he’s put together a fantastic app, and background back office system for us to link in with clients. And it all goes into some of these behavioral traits that we have. And confidence is one of them. So it actually tests whether you are somebody who tends to be quite overconfident or under confident. Now and see with that information, we as advisors talking to talking to our clients such as you, David, can really understand where you’re coming from when you make decisions, and ensure that you know, ultimately, the information we’re talking about is pitched at the right level. So yeah, fascinating stuff. It’s just a whole deep world you can go into but I think it’s going to be massive for really understanding ourselves.

David 9:48
Well, I’ve got some big financial decisions coming up Tommo. So I look forward very much to go through those with you. Right, okay, let’s move on now to our next feature. Tight Ass Tommo. Sometimes I just let this pass as to where it came from sometimes I feel its important that we just remind ourselves how this feature came about. Tommo was taking Chris and another colleague out for lunch. He said, Don’t worry my treat, I’ll pay. He steared them towards a particular meal on the menu. And it turned out this was the meal, for which he had a free voucher. And therefore the legend of TightAssTommo was born. Before we come on to the master himself. Chris, have you got one for us this week?

Chris 10:25
I do David. Tommo has this rather taken over your life?

Producer Tommo 10:30
It’s remarkable. I mean, Chris will know this, in our circles we do a morning, its call the morning commute and it’s donew through at group called NextGen Planners, great group, if you’re a planner listening to this, check them out, get involved. I do a slot a couple of days a week. Tight Ass Tommo, so the way it’s taken over my life as I’ve had to re-listen to all, every single episode we’ve ever done every single tip have ever done and regurgitate them. That means that nobody knows me as Tom anymore and they just know me as Tight Ass. Im not sure about that.

Chris 11:05
It has the happy coincedence of being entirely true. So this works out quite well in the end. So look I’ve go one this week from Mrs B actually, from the lovely Susie, my wife. She asked me to put this one on, she is an Oncology nurse also works at the penny brohn Cancer Center, to which all the proceeds fromt he Financial Wellbeing book go. And she has a great little tip to prolong the life of your rocket. So I’m talking to saldly type rocket. Not the thing that goes whoosh up into the air rocket. So salad leaves and all this kind of stuff is great for our bodies. And that’s one of the things that, nutrition is one of the things they talk about it the Penny Brohn Centre. But the problem is that their sold in those plastic bags and it gets all sweaty and goes off pretty quickly. So what she does, she puts she puts it in a tub plastic tub with a sheet of kitchen roll underneath and on top. And it stops the rocket from going off and makes it last many times longer.

David 11:58
Well, that’s a good tip. And I will do that one. Nothing more annoying when your salad in a bag going a bit sort of sticky and smelly and off in that way. So I will take her up on that one. Tommo what’s yours?

Producer Tommo 12:09
Well, as you guys won’t know, as we were setting this all up today, and having a chinwag. I reminded myself that I didn’t have one, so I just furiously did some googling. No, I know where to look! Now I, reminded me actually that I just forgotton to note it down. I came across a website called nimber.com. Thats N I M, for Mike, B E R dot com, show notes, etc. And I thought this really fed into some of the stuff we’ve talked about before and what they try and do, is you have people who basically. It’s a delivery service, but the people who are doing the deliveries are doing it because they’re going in that direction already. So it might be that they’re on their commute. And they happen to be going . . .

Producer Tommo 13:05
Hang on a second this. This is exciting. I got a cup of tea coming in here.

Chris 13:13
And a biscuit?

Producer Tommo 13:14
Scones

Chris 13:15
Scones!

David 13:18
Where’s mine?

Producer Tommo 13:20
Come and say hello Toby. You going to come and say hello to all of our listeners?

Toby 13:23
Hello, my name’s Toby

Chris 13:28
Hello, Toby.

David 13:29
Hello Toby, good to see you.

Chris 13:32
How are you Toby?

Toby 13:34
Good

Chris 13:35
What did you have for breakfast?

Toby 13:38
Wheetabix

Chris 13:39
Yum

David 13:40
One or two?

Chris 13:44
Two

David 13:44
Woah, your a growing lad arnt you!

Producer Tommo 13:47
And what are you doing now?

Toby 13:49
It’s just time for snacks

David 13:53
Fantastic

Producer Tommo 13:54
You’re gonna go and have your snack.

Toby 13:55
Bye

David 13:55
Bye Toby

Chris 14:02
We have a new section of the podcast, we have a new star. Toby’s breakfast tips

Producer Tommo 14:09
Far more interesting than his dad. Genuinly I got a cup of tea and some scones, homemade by the two of them.

Chris 14:17
That’s staying in, thats gold dust that is!

Producer Tommo 14:20
Absolutely. So I am completely off my train of thought.

Producer Tommo 14:23
You were telling us about this app where people are going out to deliver

Producer Tommo 14:30
If you want to send something you go on the website, and you put such and such a location and those that are deliverers on the service, pick that up, you know and try and go in that direction. I think the whole aim is to just try and cut down on travel costs and emissions and all that sort of thing because ultimately if your going in that direction, why not deliver as well. So I thought it was a very interesting service. So go check it out. I’ll let you go check it out. Yeah, nimber.com

David 15:00
Excellent. What a good idea. I’m intregued by that, I shall check that out after we’re finished doing this recording. Right, let’s move on to the main event. Chris, why don’t you introduce our subject today?

Chris 15:11
Okay, David, thank you. So there’s a couple of friends of the podcast, there’s one very good friend of the podcast called Catherine Morgan, who is a financial coach. She’s also a fellow board member on the Initiative for Financial Wellbeing. She’s a real innovator in the field of helping people to better understand their relationship to money, and get better financial wellbeing outcomes. So Catherine sent me a really interesting and funky looking infographic from a website called banana tree log.com, thats banana tree log.com. And I had a little look at it, it turns out, it’s just a small blogging website from a gentleman called Anthony Khow, Khow in Canada, who suffers from anxiety, and has set up this little website just for his own interest. So he’s not a well known person, he doesn’t have a big business or anything like that. He’s just the guy who set up a website. But he does possess fantastic infographic and communication skills. On Twitter, he is at banana tree log. And as I say, that website is banana tree log.com. And I was so inspired by what he put together, that I thought we have a chat about some of his stuff, which is all around the biology of happiness, what chemicals in our body create feelings of well being and what we can do to increase those chemicals?

David 16:28
Well, I always find alcohol works for me! I’m not sure if that’s a chemical or not.

Chris 16:33
I think we’re looking for a more permanent solution.

David 16:37
Certainly in lockdown I am doing my best to increase the amount of that I’ve got in my body

Chris 16:43
So, let’s go through these four chemicals. There are four chemicals in the brain, which are known as the happy chemicals. I thought we might introduce one or two each. So David, did you want to go first with endorphin?

David 16:55
Yeah, now I know a bit about endorphin, it’s the chemical you get from exercise. It relieves stress and pain and you can get a mild high but of course, this also makes it a bit dangerous to have in excess because it can be addictive.

Producer Tommo 17:10
I’ve got back into running at the start of the year. It’s actually quite dangerous for me now. I’m still going out, but my knee is not doing particularly well. But I can’t help but going out and getting those endorphin kicks . . .

David 17:23
Well I’m the same, I started taking it running again. And I’m a bit like you I never look forward to doing it. Particularly I never particularly enjoy doing it while I’m doing it. But I always feel great afterwards.

Producer Tommo 17:34
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So I’ve got another quite addictive one of these – dopamine. And in very simple terms, this is known as the pleasure chemical. Things that we can do to get it include things, achieving things. You know, getting what you desire, no matter how small. So yeah, the pleasure chemical.

Chris 17:57
And there is serotonin, which is sometimes called leadership chemical, because we get seratonin when we are admired or respected.

David 18:05
And then there’s good old oxytocin, the chemical of love. So cool because it’s released during physical and social contact.

Chris 18:14
I really didn’t like the way you did that.

David 18:18
Well, listen, I am a man who is in lockdown and separated from his partner.

Chris 18:23
No, no, no more information. We’ll get into each of these chemicals one at a time. But a little word of warning before we do, we know from some of the stuff that Neil Bage was talking about, like framing, that is easy to frame language in a certain way to get a certain outcome. So, when doing some reading around the subject I quickly realized we are going to have to be careful with our language.

David 18:47
In what way?

Chris 18:48
Well, let’s take dopamine, for example. We’re coming at this chemical in terms of happiness. So we might describe dopamine is a chemical that enables learning and pleasure. We might say that too much can lead to addiction, and not enough can lead to low self esteem and procrastination. But when I was reading about this, I read other articles calling dopamine, the goal achieving chemical. That it’s the chemical that creates great leaders. And that feels a little presumptuous to me. Like it sets up being a great thing for someone to achieve and that might make a person think that they need to chase dopamine.

Producer Tommo 19:24
That means, I suggest that we need to make sure we are clear about what makes us happy. Each person, you know, it’s very different, and will have their own their own needs. Which comes back to the cornerstone of financial planning and the achievable intrinsic motivation.

David 19:40
I know we’ve covered that before havn’t we. Remind us what that means Tommo.

Producer Tommo 19:44
We heard first from Professor Tim Kasser all the way back in Episode 42. There are two types of motivations or purpose. Intrinsic and extrinsic. And intrinsic motivation is one that has no real reason, we just do it because we want to. An extrinsic motivation is one we do for someone else, such as, such to impress someone or please someone. And professor Kassers research shows that if we achieve an extrinsic motivation, this has no effect on our wellbeing. If we achieve intrinsic motivation, however, this really does create wellbeing.

David 20:25
And the biological explanation of that, then is that achieving an intrinsic motivation will release dopamine.

Chris 20:31
Exactly, whereas achieving an external motivation will not. So it’s not just as simple to see dopamine as, for example, a way of creating great leaders.

David 20:39
So could be viewed as being perhaps the other way around, find personal success, but achieve purpose, and dopamine will follow?

Producer Tommo 20:50
Exactly, David. So we come back to the importance of having a clear financial plan, which aims towards those achievable, and intrinsic motivations.

David 21:00
And that’ll increase our dopamine levels, which will increase our wellbeing

Chris 21:04
Exactly that’s the theory. Yes.

David 21:06
So is there anything else we can do?

Chris 21:09
Yeah, having a daily list, a to do list and crossing things off when you get them done is a good thing to do for dopamine. Getting regular exercise. Actually, regular exercise is good for all four of the happy chemicals. It creates dopamine, its also really good for endorphins as we said.

David 21:24
I thought endorphins were all about exercise?

Chris 21:27
They are but it’s not just exercise. They also minimize discomfort and pain, alleviate depression, reduce stress and anxiety and boost self esteem.

Producer Tommo 21:36
Oh, right, get me more of them there endorphin’s then please, sign I up!

Chris 21:41
Mrs B has been doing, what’s the guy’s name? Nine o’clock every morning, Joe? What’s his name?

Producer Tommo 21:45
Joe Wicks. Is she doing it for the excersise or is she doing it for Joe?

Chris 21:49
Oh, controversial! No, I think he’s great. You know what I love about him actually, as I sit on the sofa and watch Mrs B doing her excersise with Luna and Ella, we all will think it’s great. But he suffers with you. I think he’s fabulous. Because he doesn’t say come on, this is easy, come on. You can tell this is actually really easy for him, but he pretends it’s hard to empathize with everybody. I think. So, yeah, chasing endorphins is a bad thing. The fitness addict for example, is, I think we all know people who can’t stop running, triathlons, etc.

Producer Tommo 22:23
Yeah, we just touched on a moment ago that there is a slight addiction of desperately trying to get out there and get that hit, but not necessarily good if you run through injuries, etc. But yeah, there’s extreme addicts that I know that fitness is just consumes their life.

David 22:39
Apart from physical exercise and creativity, which we’ve also touched on, is there anything else that we can do to keep our endorphin levels up?

Chris 22:46
Yeah, laughter and crying produces endorphins. So emotional reaction. The really good news is eating chocolates and having sex are also very good for producing endorphines.

David 22:57
As I just said, I am separated from my partner in lockdown, but I do have to say I have been eating a lot of chocolate.

Chris 23:09
I’ll leave that one there I think

David 23:13
OK, lets move swiftly on then! Oxcytocin, the chemical of love.

Chris 23:17
Is this moving on?! This is a different type of love. This is, because oxytocin is also sometimes called the cuddle hormone, as it’s produced through physical or social contact. But it does have a negative side. For example, it can explain why people mistrust outsiders.

Producer Tommo 23:36
It’s worth reminding ourselves of the five parts of overall wellbeing at this point. We’re always trying to stress on this podcast that money is just a tool to bring about happiness. Focusing on money in itself will actually reduce our wellbeing. The main area of this is social relationships, It’s a key area of wellbeing. Perhaps oxytocin explains why this why this is the case? You know being engaged with the community, which is another area wellbeing has also been shown to majorly impact our wellbeing in a positive way. So from a well being standpoint, I think we quite like oxytocin very much.

David 24:14
And how can we ensure then that we have strong levels of oxytocin?

Chris 24:20
We measure in physical contact, the fact that it’s linked with being in a community. Having a pet, like the one that’s currently barking outside my cabin! Giving it lots of love and cuddles, that’s been shown to lower blood pressure and increase oxcytocin.

David 24:33
Yeah, I got my little dog Ruby and she’s been a great comfort for me and she is, you know, sometimes she’ll climb up on my lap and sit there and that’s certainly, I can identfy with that.

Producer Tommo 24:41
Shall we bring it back to finances?

David 24:44
We probably should. You don’t like it when we go all cuddly do you Tommo? You don’t like the cuddly stuff.

Producer Tommo 24:50
I can kid of see the theory of it, but I do like to bring you back, to the financial element of this.

David 24:57
Go on then!

Producer Tommo 25:01
From a financial point of view, we need to remind ourselves, what our moeny is for. I found some really interesting ideas on a website called psycology today. Which said that ther ways to increase oxcytocin, include telling people around you that you love them. And to combine dopamine and oxcytocin, achieving things with other people. So now go back to our intrinsic motivation points. We also know that helping others is a big contributor to wellbeing. So donating either money or maybe just time to something that you can get involved with. That you can see achieving something that you believe in. And it means its something to you that is going to have a significant boost to your levels of wellbeing. It’s not just the case of giving money through the feelings of guilt. I had that experience, certainly in the winter when I actually went into work. I would walk past quite a few homeless people, and it’s terrible, a terrible situation that a lot of people find themselves in. You might give them a bit of money. But thats an assuagon guilt a lot of the time, if we can actually use our money, involving other people, involving causes that we see, you know, something being achieved that can give us a real boost, in creating a shared achievement.

David 26:24
That’s very well put Tommo. So that leaves us with serotonin

Chris 26:28
Yeah this is a complex one. We’re not medical experts. We’re not gonna pretend we are. But it does seem clear from, from the research that amongst other functions, serotonin helps to regulate mood, anxiety and happiness. If you take drugs like ecstasy and LSD, they cause a significant rise in serotonin levels. So this is a good chance in the podcast, I’d suggest chaps, for you to share your ecstasy and LSD stories if you like.

David 26:51
Well, I don’t have an ecstasy story. But I’m quite prepared to come out and say that 46 years ago, when I was a very young man, I did dabble with LSD. I think four times. The first three times, it was absolutely fantastic. I went on a journey of the mind unlike any I’ve ever gone on before when I thought this is the most liberating thing I’ve ever done. And the fourth time I took it, it was absolutely horrible. It was the archetypal bad trip. I won’t go into the details of what it was, but it was absolutely psychologically scarring and damaging. It was, I think, probably, and I’ve had some bad things happen during my time, just about the worst experience of my life. And the one thing I would say about LSD and probably about any of those hallucinogenic drugs is that, is that any number of good trips is not worth the band trip that I had. So that’s my personal experience for LSD.

Chris 27:51
Thank you for sharing that. David, I think there’s a very strong message. I mean, if it was your fourth and last . . .

David 27:57
Yeah, as I say, I was nine I was 19. I’m 65 now, and I’ve never been remotely tempted to take it again.

Producer Tommo 28:09
So, don’t do drugs kids

Producer Tommo 28:14
It’s interesting, so those drugs are designed to tap into those particular chemicals, I’m assuming, but clearly have a huge downside. So I think this really shows the importance of thinking about sensible things that you can do, that can use these chemicals that aren’t going to be a hinderence to your health. Because that’s another area of wellbeing is the physical and mental wellbeing and we cannot lose sight of that. So . . .

Chris 28:41
How the things are balanced Tommo, that’s a fantastic point. Yeah. The five areas of wellbeing overall need to be balanced with each other. It’s not one over the others and having a balanced level of serotonin is important not having massive boosts of it through, through artificial drugs. There’s a chap called Simon Young writes in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, and he talks about how to increase your serotonin or keep it well balanced is sunlight, aerobic exercise, and as ever, good diet -foods high in tryptophan, tryptophan, such as chicken eggs, cheese, peanuts, pumpkin, sesame seeds and again, chocolate.

David 28:51
Horah. So presumably if our levels are constant, social relationships are easier, which all round leads to increase wellbeing.

Chris 29:29
Exactly and as research confirms that positive emotions and agreeableness foster continued relationships with others.

David 29:39
Now it seems to have fallen to me in recent podcasts to summarize what we’ve learnt, but on this occasion, because he’s been absolutely on fire today, I think we should let Tommo have a go.

Producer Tommo 29:49
Okay, so there four chemicals in our brains, which are thought to directly affect our wellbeing. Endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. Keeping these at a good level and in balance with each other, will go a long way to improving our wellbeing. Things, particularly how this or perhaps unsurprisingly, eating well and exercising regularly. So that’s our physical wellbeing. Being involved with the community, and the community wellbeing. Sharing time with loved ones, that’s the social wellbeing. And there was also this idea around achieving something and having purpose that’s career wellbeing. So you can see that financial wellbeing, I see as the sort of hub that can help give us the structure to be able to focus on these other areas in our lives, that are obviously really going to give us an increased wellbeing, because we’re getting these chemicals into our system and on a good balance.

David 30:52
Brilliant. So that’s all the things that we’ve been discussing over 66 podcasts that will no doubt, continue to discuss. But that’s all for now. A big thank you to Anthony Khow at banana tree log for all of the very, very interesting information that’s prompted this discussion. Thanks very much for joining us today. And we look forward to the pleasure of your company at some point in the future, for another one of our financial wellbeing podcasts.

Categories

Blog: Interesting Times

We live in interesting times – a guest post from Nick Elston takes a look at the different stages of this ‘storm’ and how we can choose to move forward

Posted by:
September 29, 2020

Episode 66 – The Biology of Happiness

Can we increase our wellbeing through a biology lesson? In this episode Chris, David and Producer Tommo explore the science behind the chemicals in our brains responsible for happiness. With plenty of takeaways on sensible ways to increase our wellbeing, a Bage’s Bias and a special little guest in the #tightasstommo segment, it is easier … Continued

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