Dopamine Day

For a few years I’ve intermittently campaigned for the renaming of Valentines Day to Dopamine Day. After all, that’s what it’s really about. The thrill of romantic love is largely the handiwork of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

We would celebrate Dopamine Day by engaging in activities that increase dopamine, like savoring chocolates, giving and receiving gifts, enjoying a nice meal, catching a show, and being close to your lover. Sound familiar? That’s probably because Valentines Day already is Dopamine Day but under a less specific, or at least less alliterative, name.

Dopamine Day encompasses so much more, though. It doesn’t leave single people out in the cold, like Valentines Day does. Don’t have a lover? That’s not a problem for Dopamine Day! Your potential for enjoying dopamine isn’t dependent on your relationship status. The trick for releasing dopamine is to try something novel and thrilling, like exploring a new city or skydiving or rafting. Not very adventurous? Then engaging in fantasy, like a movie or a book may be more your style. The addition of chocolate never hurts.

It seems appropriate to interject here with a pertinent factini. The brains of people who are in the crazy-in-love stage of love look like the brains of people who are high on cocaine. Now, I’m not suggesting you celebrate Dopamine Day by snorting coke; that’s too easy - and therefore dangerous. (In fact one could argue whether or not celebrating Dopamine Day with someone you are madly in love with “too easy.” I’ll let that debate slide for now.)

To really give dopamine its awe-inspiring due, it’s important to note that cocaine and other drugs are addictive because they hijack the dopamine pleasure/reward system. Dopamine feels *that good* and its pull is *that irresistible*.

So, let’s celebrate the goodness and irresistibly of dopamine, without which we would lose our zest for much of life. In fact, without dopamine to pull us in the direction of maintaining our necessary life functions, I doubt we could exist. We would certainly not be human.

I plan to celebrate Dopamine Day with a wander in the redwoods, an indulgence in a novel, and plenty of chocolate & zinfandel. Maybe I’ll surprise people with little Dopamine Day cards, too. That will help spread the love!

Hooray for dopamine!


  1. Jonathan said,

    March 12, 2009 at 6:38 am

    I was wondering if we could perhaps get a better picture of the endorphin necklace. I would love to (eventually) purchase this for my wife who is in grad school to get her PhD in organic chemistry (lots of formal things to go to). But I really want a bigger, picture…..

    Best picture ever would of course be someone wearing that necklace with a close up of the neck… I can see size etc.

  2. Pratik Chhatbat said,

    April 29, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Hey Raven! It was nice meeting you by the lava.. And your website is beautiful! I am definitely considering your jewellery as a gift for selected few in my group. Both you and your mom are very nice.. We are in Waikoloa beach Marriott for NCM society conference and you are most welcome to stop by! BTW what’s up with the blogging? Keep writing interesting stuff! Mahalo!

  3. Margaret S said,

    May 3, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    I was thinking, you should produce a anandamide necklace…
    Endocannibinoids are every neuroscience biochem track student’s favorite, right?
    Your jewelry is awesome, though. Keep it up!