Day Seven: Endorphins - The Pleasure Principle

In the last of our series on the Science of Conflict and our emotions, as part of Year of the Young People 2018, the Cyrenians’ Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution (SCCR) delves deep into the brain’s drugs cabinet.


Endorphins (the Brain’s Exquisite Tranquilising Drug) enhance pleasure and eliminate pain. No drug can match the power of Endorphins to create a sense of well-being and pleasure, to safely eliminate pain and relieve anxiety.

A bottle filled with liquid. The label says "endorphins"

Any physical activity or anticipation of something that you know will be fun can trigger the release of Endorphins in your brain and bloodstream. They’re also produced in response to stress or fear to block pain and numb feelings of anxiety.

How our bodies learn to manage Endorphins being produced during our teenage years will determine how easily we produce it as adults and exactly what activities trigger its release.

Top tip: If as young people our Endorphins are mainly produced during physical exercise, listening to music, or spending time with friends and family, then throughout our lives the thought of these experiences are likely to continue to trigger the release of Endorphins into the bloodstream.

An image of a person saying "you had me at hello"

The good news is that when the teenage brain is learning to control Endorphin production we are in control over what will naturally calm us or cause us pleasure later in life; it’s like being a designer of your future self!

It’s not a matter of right or wrong or having willpower and being good: thinking about what gives us pleasure (and why) gives us the ability to make informed choices and the ability to access our brain’s natural pleasure drug when we need it!

We’d love to hear your #TopTips for what makes you feel happy and relaxed using the hashtag #CranialCocktail - on Facebook and Twitter @sccrcentre

SCCR images subject to copyright. Illustrations by Hannah Foley, Owling About.