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Goals don't bring satisfaction, says CSUEB prof

Loretta Graziano Breuning

Loretta Graziano Breuning

  • January 17, 2012 5:00am

Professor Emerita of International Management Loretta Graziano Breuning wrote an article, “Score! Dopamine! Repeat! Or Not,” for Psychology Today in which she explains how some people get caught up in endless efforts to stimulate more of that dopamine feel-good with more goal-seeking.  Read article.

“Reaching a goal triggers dopamine,” Breuning writes in her article. “It's foolish to speak of some people as "stressed" as if others go through life effortlessly. Being alive is stressful.”

She writes that old rewards no longer creates a dopamine spike and makes people happy because their brains habituate to the reward. “It takes what you have for granted and focuses its attention on new rewards. If you could get bigger and better rewards in every moment, you would never have to experience the core unhappiness of being a mortal human being. But that desperate seeking causes unhappiness of its own.”

Breuning has worked in Africa as a United Nations Volunteer and began studying the mammalian social brain after lecturing worldwide on bribery prevention. She has written previous books, including Greaseless: How to Thrive without Bribes in Developing Countries and I, Mammal: Why Your Brain Links Status and Happiness.

Read an earlier blog post on Bruening's new book, "Mammal brain wired to seek status and happiness."


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