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The Significance of RewardsThis is an old post of mine that still resonates with me and I thought to stash in in my blog so it is easy for me to locate. Nicotine stimulates the reward path in our brain and by replenishing ourselves with nicotine, we were rewarded with Dopamine. Many times a day we went from the panic of, 'I've gotta have a smoke' to 'Ahhh', the brief relief of satisfying addiction. We were jerking our own chain every twenty minutes or so....for years. When quitting nicotine, that dance of our reward system shuts down. It's a shock and we miss the consistent rewarding rush of dopamine. Our brain doesn't understand where all the feel good stuff went so, it is essential to amplify rewards, to jump start our natural pathways for the release of Dopamine. The physical act of rewarding ourselves is crucial for the brain to access Dopamine. It took me a moment to wrap my head around this, The Physical Act of Rewarding Ourselves, Is Crucial For The Brain To Access Dopamine. Our friend, bakon, is a big advocate of rewards, quite rightly, too. Celebrate your first moments, days...your first weeks and months. The first year, the next... This can take the form of exotic holidays, paid with the ducats you were giving to Big Tobacco, to simple gifts to yourself, a new book, a magazine, a film... ooh ! plenty of excellent chocolate passed these lips (dark chocolate, apple, almond, banana, strawberry, salmon, beet, watermelon and pumpkin seeds also stimulate Dopamine). Choose activities that make you feel pampered like the perfect bath, an afternoon nap in freshly laundered sheets, a candle lit dinner. Getting through difficulties and experiencing your triumphs are all opportunities to reward yourself. Keep in mind, you are not spoiling yourself, you are re-training your brain to deliver dopamine as an honest reward. Like quenching your thirst with a long tall cool glass of water. Celebrate as the hours go by, while the body adjusts to the new normal. A normal of being rewarded with dopamine but, naturally, of course, the way it was before we allowed nicotine to control our reward system. I remember the first day that I forgot to think about smoking or not smoking, wow ! this is what being nicotine free feels like ! I was so happy and celebrated by purchasing a small tree, a Sweet Viburnum full of blossoms, a living reminder of my freedom. My continuing reward is the luscious freedom I appreciate every single day. I am in better health and free-er in spirit... Tell me what your rewards have been, my nicotine free friends, what are your rewards now ? S p.s. Along with Dopamine, we can hack into our other happy chemicals to improve the quality of our lives. All are accessible through Meditation; taking time for slow, measured breathing. letting thoughts slip away. Exercise and laughter induce the release of Endorphins, Oxytocin flows with orgasm, giving/receiving gifts. Serotonin gets you high when sitting in the sun, hanging with friends and by reflecting on your accomplishments.