How To Trigger The 4 Feel-Good Chemicals For Unlocking High Performance

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As a business owner and youth hockey coach, I find myself consistently striving to unlock high performance within my team. I set goals, pushed boundaries, and demanded a lot out of my team. But even on days I questioned if I went too far, I could never figure out why my actions left players craving more. After years of running a business, I always seemed to find that balance of being demanding but never demeaning and earning people’s respect as a boss and a coach. I came across the four feel-good chemicals our body naturally produces endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. By understanding how these chemicals work and how to trigger their release, you can create an environment that fosters productivity, engagement, and a sense of fulfillment.

The Endorphin Effect: How to Boost Resilience and Enjoyment

Endorphins have a naturally built-in reward system, empowering us to push beyond our limits and fostering a sense of euphoria and connection. When leaders challenge their teams with tasks that stretch their capabilities, they’re not just testing resilience; they’re also activating a powerful source of motivation and satisfaction. Introducing rigorous but achievable physical activities can transform a strenuous task into an exhilarating challenge, sparking an endorphin release that enhances mood and camaraderie. This doesn’t mean driving your team into the ground; rather, it’s about finding that sweet spot where hard work meets gratification. Activities that promote physical well-being, such as team sports or shared fitness challenges are excellent catalysts for this endorphin rush, creating memorable bonding experiences and a collective sense of achievement. By carefully calibrating the level of challenge and interspersing it with moments of recovery, leaders can help their teams build resilience while also enjoying the journey. This strategic approach ensures that every step forward is not just a test of endurance but an opportunity to experience the profound satisfaction that comes from overcoming obstacles together.

Dopamine – The Reward Chemical’s Role in Motivation

Dopamine, also known as the ‘reward chemical,’ is fundamentally intertwined with our sense of achievement and pursuit of our goals. This nifty neurotransmitter rewards our brains when we meet targets, fostering an environment of relentless motivation and concentrated effort. For leaders and coaches aiming to harness the power of dopamine within their teams, the approach is both straightforward and transformative.

As humans, we trust our eyes more than any other senses in our body. So make sure we are physically writing down attainable goals and making a clear and understandable road map by starting with the end in mind.

Have milestones, and when your team reaches them, they are celebrated. An opportunity to recognize and applaud the hard work of your team members will get small hits of dopamine before getting the biggest hit when achieving the main goal. These acknowledgments act as dopamine boosts, reinforcing their drive to push forward and tackle the next challenge head-on.

Serotonin – Fostering a Sense of Belonging and Pride

Serotonin shines as the cornerstone of contentment and community within a team, playing a crucial role in instilling feelings of well-being, satisfaction, and mutual respect among each other. This powerful chemical fosters a sense of belonging and pride, creating an atmosphere where individuals feel valued and integral to the team’s success. Initiatives aimed at boosting serotonin levels can transform a workplace or team, making it not only more productive but also a happier, more cohesive environment.

Leaders can elevate serotonin levels by highlighting individual contributions in ways that resonate with each team member’s sense of value and accomplishment. These practices help cultivate an environment where team members are eager to contribute, knowing their efforts are recognized and celebrated.

Additionally, facilitating opportunities for personal growth and development within the team structure can significantly impact serotonin levels. When individuals see a clear path for advancement and feel supported in their professional journey, it reinforces their sense of belonging and pride within their team.

Oxytocin – Building Trust and Strengthening Bonds

Oxytocin, known affectionately as the “love hormone,” is integral in knitting closer relationships and creating an environment of mutual trust and support among team members. To effectively elevate oxytocin levels in your group, focus on fostering deep connections and emphasizing a culture where every person feels valued and supported. Small gestures of appreciation and open displays of gratitude can go a long way in nurturing these bonds.

Additionally, organizing team-building exercises and encouraging collaborative projects can serve as powerful avenues for sparking this vital chemical, reinforcing the team’s unity and collaborative spirit.

Establishing regular check-ins and feedback sessions also contributes to a trusting atmosphere, where team members feel comfortable sharing ideas and challenges. Through these efforts to promote oxytocin, you lay the groundwork for a harmonious and tight-knit team, characterized by strong relationships and a shared commitment to achieving collective goals.


Exercise triggers endorphins to be released in your body. It’s common for people to exercise because they love that feeling of exhaustion. This is one reason why people often exercise incorrectly by creating too much fatigue than their bodies can recover from.

Make sure to set short-term, and long-term goals with your team. Try to make the process-based and not results first. And always throw a mini party for the short-term goals with a BBQ, Keg night, and gift cards. Whatever you need to do, to give that quick hit of Dopamine.

Serotonin and Oxytocin take longer to build up. The hit is more powerful than the other two feel-good chemicals. This takes time to build trust and relationships with the people in your organization. Be authentic and true to yourself. Show you care by putting the health and needs of people around you first.

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