The Science Of Winning: Why It Feels So Good

Posted on: 25th March 2016

Everybody loves winning, No matter how good of a sport you are, or how gracious you are in defeat, winning always feels better than losing. Whether it's winning a bet, a game of tennis, or even a competition, that rush of happiness you get when you're announced into the winners' circle is second to none.

But what actually causes this rush of joy? Not surprisingly, it all comes down to scientific and psychological reasons. Firstly, winning causes a surge in testosterone, in both men and women. Testosterone is associated with feelings of dominance or aggression, and plays a big part in that feeling of accomplishment and power after a victory.

Secondly, there's another pretty important element of your biochemistry playing a part in that wining thrill. This is the brain chemical dopamine, also know as the 'pleasure hormone'. Dopamine controls various emotions, such as happiness, pleasure, and excitement. This is partly owed to its actions in a brain area called the nucleus accumbens.

This particular region of the brain is activated in situations involving positive emotions and pleasure, and therefore influences the thrill you feel after a victory. Funnily enough, this same brain region is considered to be under-performing in people with mood disorders such as anxiety or depression.

Finally, winning or accomplishing big things gives you a sense of purpose and identity. To be able to say, "I'm the CEO of a big company" or, "I won the national golf championships last year" makes you stick out from the rest of the pack, in the best possible way. Linking yourself to positive things that make you unique is great for self-esteem, and helps you associate positive feelings with your sense of self.

So, if you ever feel guilty or awkward when relishing the thrill of victory, don't. It all comes down to brain chemistry, so feel free to enjoy the moment!

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