Black Friday & Happiness

Black Friday… that’s what today is.

What is it about Black Friday that keeps the tradition alive? Is it scouring ads and discussing with family or friends the best deals? Is it the planning of where to go when? Is it the excitement of shopping – finding the item, waiting in line and bagging the deal? Is it the hunt of finding a parking place and beating someone to it? Is it the rush that one feels from dopamine when you get a great deal?

Neuroscience: think about dopamine and what it does to your body. You feel that rush. Most new adventures dump dopamine into your body. A key factor in addiction is dopamine. I kind of have a feeling that the tradition continues to go strong partly because of the dopamine response to the busy, shopping experience and the thrill of a great deal. My sister in-law and her family were tenacious shoppers, especially on Black Friday. As they’d talk and plan, their energy would rise and their eyes would be a glow anticipating the shopping. This was back when Black Friday began at 5 am.

Black Friday has the potential to provide a rush for many shoppers. It’s that thrill of the chase. We experience this feeling in other situations such as when we are competitive. We all need a bit of the feeling of a rush every once in a while. The rush of a crazy busy day in which we stay right on schedule. The rush we feel when we meet goals we set for ourselves. This dopamine ride though isn’t satisfying – it tends to lead us searching and searching for that next rush.

I wonder what our profession would be like if we each focused on achieving happiness? The chemicals of happiness include dopamine, oxytocin, endorphin and serotonin. Staying motivated, setting personal and professional goals, taking action and achieving them is actually important to release the dopamine component required for happiness. Taking time to build relationships, providing manual therapy and surprising your patients increase oxytocin. Staying active by exercising and laughing frequently provide bursts of endorphins. Taking time to reflect on your past experiences, in particular your achievements, and practicing gratitude increase serotonin.

As you can see, happiness isn’t something that only involves you. True happiness also requires a connection with others, relationships, caring and the power of touch. Your happiness is dependent upon taking time to give to others. Your ability to express your deep gratitude also plays a role in your happiness.

For any of you who spent today shopping and getting great deals on Black Friday, you experienced the thrill of the chase. No matter how much you bought or how many awesome deals you scored, this probably won’t bring happiness as a single entity. If you were shopping with others, bought items for some of your loved ones, exchanged a few hugs, had a few laughs, did a ton of walking (or even running), and then took time at the end of the day to reflect on some moments of which you were grateful… well, Black Friday just might have helped you experience happiness.

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