Dear friend,

Do you know what is common between dark chocolate, surprises, gambling, winning the house in bingo, and meeting people who agree with us? Each of these experiences causes a surge of a chemical dopamine in our brain’s reward network. That surge feels uplifting, sometimes intensely so.

Another activity that increases dopamine in our reward system is talking about the self (saying the word “I”). “I do this,” “I do that,” “This is how I feel,” “I like this,” “I don’t like that,” and so on. Research shows when we talk about ourselves, our reward network activates, and we feel happy.

No wonder 40% of speech and 80% of social media content is people talking about themselves.

When you choose to listen to others mindfully, even if you cannot solve their concerns, you are helping them. This is because when they inform you, their brain’s pleasure center activates. People would even give up a monetary gain in favor of the joy of sharing information. At least that’s what the research shows.

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So, a simple way to connect with others and make them happy is to sit back, relax, and enjoy hearing them speak — about themselves. Try this today with someone who may have missed an engaged sympathetic ear for a long time.

Listening to others with complete presence is such a simple way of spreading happiness. No wonder we have two ears for each mouth!

Take care.


Dr. Amit Sood answers your questions about stress, resilience, happiness, relationships, and related topics in his column. Email