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Loretta Breuning

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Loretta Breuning, PhD

Author and Founder, Inner Mammal Institute


About the interview

  • Why are so many people unhappy
  • What are our happy brain chemicals and how do they work
  • Understand why we behave and feel the way we do
  • Learn what it takes to rewire your brain and build new neural pathways
  • How can you identify and change bad habits
  • Get parenting tips on how to raise happy children
  • How to utilise happy brain chemicals to make a difference for yourself and the world


About Loretta

Author and Founder, Inner Mammal Institute

  • Founder of the Inner Mammal Institute
  • Author of the book 'Habits of a Happy Brain'
  • Helping people build new neural pathways to turn on their happy chemicals in new ways
  • Professor Emerita of Management at California State University
  • Challenges prevailing (economic) theories of human behaviour and motivation
  • Convinced, that for sustainable happiness we need to make peace with the animal inside
If you could invite 1 person to a dinner party – who would it be and why?

David Attenborough, because he tells the truth about the conflict among animals. 

What motivates you? Makes you happy?

Teaching people about the brain chemicals that make us happy is what motivates me. (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin) Our happy chemicals are controlled by neural pathways built from early experience, so like everyone, I like doing things that turned on my happy chemicals in the past. The obvious example is travel, which I loved when I was young and still love. But it’s interesting to think about how I liked teaching about happy chemicals when I was young. Of course, I look for new ways to stimulate my happy chemicals, but I appreciate how powerful those old circuits are. 

What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?

Everyone has the same struggles. Don’t think other people have it easy. Life is challenging for everyone so don’t keep score. Just enjoy your next step, and the next. 

If you could make 1 global change – what would it be?

Zero Population Growth: if everyone couple has no more than two children, world population will stabilize. 

What are your Top 3 achievements?
  1. My book, Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain your brain to boost your serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphin levels  
  2. My video: You Have Power Over Your Brain 
  3. My kids (tax-paying adults) 
What was the most important event/influence that changed your perspective?

I was fired from my first job. And I deserved it! I was a clerk in a dry cleaners for $1.60 an hour. I lost people’s clothes due to not paying attention. People would show up before a wedding and their clothes were not in the right place and everyone panicked because of my carelessness. I learned to honor detail, even when it seems “dumb,” and it was a valuable lesson. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I want to help people transcend the disease model of mental health because it’s not sustainable. Each person can enjoy their power to manage their own brain instead of expecting something external to manage their brain for them. 

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