Feel good states of mind


Image: Dr Stuart Brown TED Talk

The Story

What’s that? The garage door….she’s home, she’s home…yay…run, pant, run, jump. May be if I rollover in front of her she’ll pat me. Yes, it worked! She patted me, keep patting me, pat me, pat me. She stopped patting me… Ooh, what’s that? She’s picked up the ball. Yay…the ball, the ball. Get the ball. Throw the ball, throw the ball, throw the ball…yay….the ball, the ball. Get the ball. Throw the ball, throw the ball, throw the ball…please throw the ball. Yay, the ball, the ball…

Soon we’ll be skidding down the hall after the ball in no time….then there will be the park. Yes, yes, yes…and I can run down the driveways looking for cats. I LOVE cats! I’ll be able to drop in to say hello to that dog that is always stuck behind a fence…I’ll cheer him up! What’s that? What’s in there? A sock! It’s a sock, it’s a sock….I LOVE socks, socks are my favourite…what’s that? What’s in there? A shoe, a shoe…I LOVE shoes….shoes are my favourite…what’s that? What’s in there…

Now, I don’t know a lot about a dog’s brain other than it doesn’t have the neocortex development of humans. I do know however I always feel good when I spend time with my dog. I play, I lose time, I laugh, I feel good!

If people approached each other in the way dogs do with their owners, we’d have a heap of ‘feel good’ states of mind. And if we were able to replicate this in the workplace, what performance potentials would we reach?

Now, we can’t go around sniffing tails in the workplace, but I am sure we can create a work environment for people to wag their tails. What can you do to set your workplace tails wagging?

Neuroscience…so What?

…so What are some of the underlying neuroscience elements at play in this story?

Can you identify any of the following?

Social interaction

  • Feeling socially connected activates our brain’s reward regions and is associated with health and wellbeing; having a dog increases feelings of social connectedness – when you walk your dog, there’s a good chance you will meet other people.

Feeling of well-being

  • Serotonin and oxytocin are some of the neurotransmitters released in the brain when you pat a dog – these transmitters help us to ‘feel good’.