Human beings are hardwired to seek reward and to survive, hence we have happy chemicals that are released in the brain in order to allow us to continue seeking the things that keep us alive. We have sad chemicals that are released to prevent us from doing things that could get us killed and not perpetuate our bloodline. The happy chemicals are ideally what we would like to train our brains to release more often than the sad ones.
We have dopamine, serotonin, endorphin and oxytocin as our primary happy brain chemicals, and of course cortisol and adrenaline as the most common sad and fear-induced chemicals. The brain associates experiences with the release of certain chemicals, that is why in my work with midlife men I am always focussing on cultivating positive experiences in such a way that is more potent and greater than the negative ones. In many ways, I have my clients combat the negativity bias over and over again for the first 6 weeks of my programs so that they can ultimately cultivate the positive into something far bigger and consuming in the mind than the negative.
When you become your own change agent and you decide to block your negative and ingrained patterns of experience, then redirect your mind to adopt the antithetical positive experience, you are changing the chemical structure of your brain. You are literally building a new roadway and telling yourself to automatically go left instead of right. Just like choosing a new route to the market, instead of taking Main St, you are choosing to take Happy Lane, which is paved with dopamine and serotonin.
As you train your brain to take Happy Lane over and over again by cultivating the same positive experience over and over again, this makes your brain release dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, or endorphins which are all happy chemicals. Your brain will begin choosing Happy Lane automatically because you have attached a happy chemical to the use of the new road you have chosen to take. The key is repetition, you must create the positive experience, and choose it over and over again until it becomes automatic.
Knowing a bit about our evolution and the way we are wired can go a long way when you set out on the journey of becoming your own change agent.