Obsession vs Moderation

You want to feel good about life, enjoying the good things this life has to offer, but there is no doubt that when you’ve found something that makes you feel good, you want to do it again, and again, and again… And as you do, you seek new and exciting ways to have the experience, so that you can feel even better.

Sometimes, your search for that feel-good reaction is so great, that you can begin to ignore other areas of your life that need tending to, and when you find yourself compromising your moral fiber to accommodate your need to achieve your next “feel good” your people start murmuring, using words like, “addicted,” or, “obsessive.”

This is the scary part about seeking happiness. I am a huge promoter of achieving happiness, encouraging others to get all the happiness that is available to them, because if you could have everything you’ve ever wanted out of life, what’s it worth if you weren’t able to be happy, enjoying all the good things this life has to offer.

So, I encourage people to do or be anything you want. “Do it, if it makes you feel good.” If it feels good, that’s a huge indicator that this thing – whatever it is – is good for you.

If you’re like me, right about now, you’re hearing the voice of the robot from Lost in Space insisting, “Danger! Will Robinson, Danger!” as that rational side of your brain harkens, “Too much fun can kill you!” and, like Dr. Smith, calls the robot a, “nincompoop.”

It’s like the common imagery depicting a tiny devil-you which floating over one shoulder, taunts you to seek pleasure at any cost, and the angel-you, floating over the other shoulder, gently urges you to be more responsible and safe.

When I encourage others to get all the happiness possible out of this life, what I mean is to find happiness, to do the things that make you happy.

Obsession

Feeling good is the best thing, but to focus entirely on pleasure-seeking and neglecting you’re achieving your highest and best, is the excess that leads to addiction and obsession. You could get addicted to fun.

And we have the good-lord who endowed us with dopamine to thank for that one. A lot has been aired in the press regarding dopamine and its effect on us in addiction. It’s been referred to as the pleasure and reward seeking neurotransmitter. It has a four-phase loop that it runs, that goes something, like this:

1. Recognizably pleasurable experience
2. Anticipation of the pleasurable experience
3. Elation during the pleasurable experience
4. Creates desire to re-experience the recognized pleasurable experience

There is no dopamine injected prior to your first pleasurable experience because your brain has not determined whether the experience is pleasurable yet. First-timers jump-in on phase 3, as your brain releases dopamine for the first time anchoring itself to this particular activity. Phase 4 also seeks out new and different ways to alter the experience, because doing a thing differently creates a new experience, which releases even more dopamine. Phase 4 keeps triggering you to seek more.

As you traverse your life’s journey you discover these things along the way that release dopamine in the brain, and it’s easy to lose track of other things that have an even higher sense of value and meaning. This applies to all activities that make you feel good from gambling to holding a newborn baby. Dopamine has no regard for moral cues, it sees nothing as good or bad, that’s something you do independently of your dopamine rush.

If you were to reduce yourself to an animalistic creature without any other resources, the dopamine chemical reaction would suffice in defining who you are and how you operate. Thankfully, you are far more than that. Left to your own devices, you might become the addicted, pleasure-seeking zombie, without a conscious, letting nothing get in the way of your pursuits to feel good at any cost.

Moderation

The key here is to successfully find a place of moderation. Find the things that make you feel good, find ways to responsibly integrate them into your life. Don’t let the pursuit of “feeling good” keep you from doing the things in life that add value and significance to your life.

Balance is the secret to a healthy, happy life, and moderation is an effective way to balance all the details of your life, thereby maximizing your life-long experience at a higher level of vibration.

To moderate a potentially addictive behavior takes integrating other systems to override your dopamine pleasure center. It means you’re going to have to do some work to keep it under control. And the same God that gave you dopamine, gave you all the tools you would ever need to exercise moderation. You are not a victim to your neurochemistry, you can be in the driver’s seat if you choose to do so.

You may call on your sense of dignity, raising your awareness, engaging diligently, and calling on your spiritual powers. Whatever it takes, it’s different for each of us. You need to find your own way and determine what works best for you.

Even so, proceed with caution, as your dopamine center could attach itself to your activity of moderating. You don’t want to (or need to be) obsessed with or addicted to moderation, so moderate your moderation, too, if necessary.

Motivation

For me, motivation is the main factor. I am motivated to serve and contribute. While this is a top priority, for me, it does not take over all the rest of my life (moderation here, too). I like to be happy, and following my mission, living my life’s purpose brings many opportunities to enjoy all this life has to offer and to remain in a relative state of happiness along the way.

If your motivation is to be happy, if that’s your top priority, then your purpose in life takes the back seat (and it’s never more in the back seat than in the case of a psychopath whose brain releases four-times the dopamine than a normal person, but that’s a different story).

Putting your motivation to achieve your highest and best out front allows you to do all the good things that could potentially bring joy to others while adding meaning and a sense of purpose to your life, then happiness comes as a result of you’re being true to your individual calling.

By all means, seek to be happy, but serve first.

 

You’re Addicted to Fun

Might as well face it, you’re addicted to fun

You’re obsessed with the feelings associated with pleasure and happiness. You can function while you’re at work, but pretty much all you think about when your mind is not focused on work or problem solving is,

What am I going to do, who can I see, where can I go to get my next happy feeling?

Interestingly, the more difficult your next happy fix is, the higher (happier) it will make you feel. On the other hand, if you’re unable to participate in that difficult scenario, you’re going to feel bad, angry or depressed for not being able to do it.

It’s not enough just to do or have whatever it is that will make you happy; you derive even more pleasure from having it first. Buying the ticket, getting the latest tech gear, fashion bag, or collectible, etc. Getting these things make you happy, but being the first to get it, makes you feel even better.

This applies also to the people in your life. You judge people by how fun they are to be around, how happy they make you feel. The more fun they are, the more apt you are to go to great lengths to keep them around. If they’re a bummer, or a downer, you are less likely to have the time for them.

You love to collect things. If you’ve found owning a particular type of product has made you happy, you’re likely to get more of them, thinking the more you have, the better you’ll feel. This applies to people in your life, as well.

You know what you want, and you want it now. And you will compromise, throw caution to the wind, put relationships at risk, or suffer financial hardship for getting it now, with as little effort as possible.

Want to see where your loyalties are? Check your bank statement. You will find your pursuit of fun clearly indicated on your balance sheet, and might be inclined to rack up credit card debt to have the fun you so desperately desire.

Your moral compass might also be at risk as you try to find less scrupulous, or questionable (if not illegal), methods to finance your need of happiness.

You spend sleepless nights obsessing about the next shiny object, and the thought of it dominates your otherwise idle thoughts throughout your day. You know that if you can get this thing, you will be so happy, but after you get it… it just lacks the shimmer that you thought it would have.

When your latest acquisition does not meet your expectations (make you as happy as you thought it would) you’re going to reject it, put it down, possibly attack yourself (or someone else) for being responsible for your disappointment. You might take it back, demanding a refund. Or try to find a way to recapture the loss of money, time, or make a new (or better) friend who will make you happier than one you might have discarded.

You often compare what you have to what someone else has. You achieve a sense of joy from having something better than someone else, and when you find someone with something even better than you, your happiness about the particular item you have begins to fade.

Everything and everyone that surrounds you in your life supplies you in some way for your need to be happy. If someone, or something, fails to do so, it is quickly discarded.

Fear of loss will find you jumping through hoops, and making sacrifices, to sustain your long-term happiness provided by any activity, person or object. Since you are always concerned with maintaining all the things that make you happy, and little else, you have few resources or energy to devote to more meaningful activities or your loved ones.

You find yourself afraid of boredom. If you are not in a state of happiness, you get anxious because the withdrawal from your state of happiness is depressing, makes you feel like you’re imprisoned, can’t breathe, sad, lonely, or depressed.

You would rather risk all, sacrificing financial strain, loss of support, not following through on social commitments, humiliation, whatever it takes to prevent your dejected state of unhappiness. Your schooling or job may be at risk as the stress of trying to find ways to support your happiness become more elusive. Being unable to live in the now, or focus on the tasks at hand, can result in demotion, poor grades, or exclusion.

Your spiritual quest is one which must also support your need to feel joy and/or a sense of superiority. Your faith may help to mitigate the damages of the sacrifices you’ve made, or losses you’ve suffered in your attempt to maintain your happiness. The idea of making the world a better place appeals to you, but you’re unwilling or unable to do the work necessary to make the difference, but your recognition for supporting others doing the work, can bring a sense of accomplishment, gleaning what credit you can for their efforts.

Your attempt to fill the void with activities, material possessions, food or people will never satisfy, and will always see you wanting more. You will always be in search of the next car, trip, event, phone, gadget, handbag, bobble, restaurant meal, drink, orgasm or ten pound weight loss. And none of it will give you what you’re looking for.

Just as with other addictions, denial seems to be the first order of business as the addict protests with phrases, like, “I’m just enjoying life. What’s wrong with that?” Justifying, with statements, like, “Everyone else does it.” Or claiming not to be a slave to their uncontrollable behavior, by saying, “I can quit whenever I want.”

Overcoming Addictive Behaviors

As you grow and expand into a more evolved version of your formal self, there is a compulsion to separate the new you from the old you and the trappings which have enslaved you, because nothing satisfies more than overcoming addictive behaviors and being the master of your own life.

Now, compulsory thoughts, actions and habits are appearing to feel more like addictions than enjoyable activities or pastimes, and you’re intrigued with the idea of moving forward in search of freedom from anything that might enslave or imprison you.

There’s little else I love as much as seeing one of my clients and friends overcoming the rituals or habits that held them back from their enlightened independence, and to tell the truth, I am excited that you have decided to let go of a particular addiction that you have in mind, right now.

You’ve thought about it. You have it in mind. You may have even voiced your thoughts or concern about growing beyond this to your friends and family. That’s a good move, because it raises the accountability factor, putting a little added pressure to your commitment to successfully putting this habit or activity behind you. Hopefully, your family and friends will support you in this evolutionary process, and this can have an amazing impact on your success.

You may have to make adjustments to your lifestyle to avoid exposure to the triggers which initiate the addictive response. You are more likely to resist temptation by taking the precaution of eliminating the circumstances (persons, places, things) which creates the compulsory desire to engage in the thought pattern or activity you’d rather walk away from.

For instance, if you are more at risk for falling off the wagon by attending a party, don’t go to the party, at least at first. The same goes for any other setting or environment that might cause you to lose your resolve or falter.

If you are facing with a long-time addiction, one that have become more and more powerful over time and you are having difficulty with letting it go, it might be a good idea to enlist the aid of a coach or counselor to partner with for your progressive personal growth on this leg of your life’s journey. Seek out someone who has the skills and tools necessary to help you achieve your goals.

Depending on your condition, you may seek out a support group where others who are successfully in the process of overcoming similar challenges in their lives, or an intensive rehabilitation program might be considered to be appropriate. Regardless of the methodology, the goal is to put you in control of your body and brain’s will, not the other way around.

You would not engage in activities and behaviors which control us and could be harmful to yourself, or others, if you did not derive some benefit from it. In many cases, if you find yourself in a stressful situation, a particular activity may offer a sense of relief or more calm state by engaging in it.

Find new ways to put yourself in a peaceful state besides engaging in an addictive behavior. You may be surprised about how much more emotional control you can exercise by living a healthier lifestyle including positive activities, such as aerobic activities, walking, jogging, working out and yoga. Living a more active life and eating a healthier diet can give you the hormonal advantage to beat any addiction.

Adopting a positive attitude and approach to living will empower you with the courage to enable you to face and overcome any addictive behavior which might challenge you.

Remember, it’s all about control; your control over anything that controls you, which is not healthy or beneficial.

Once you have garnered control of yourself, and have control over the mechanisms that formerly controlled you, you can begin to let go of the control to continue an even greater expansion.

Congratulations to my friend, Tony, who has recently found freedom from his addictions. He, and others like him, are an inspiration to others facing what may appear to be insurmountable odds.

God bless you in your overcomings.

Distraction and Addiction

Why are we so attracted to bright and shiny objects?

Here you are, on track, fervently applying your talents and skills on what will have the gretest impact on your life, that of your family and possibly the world when suddenly… What’s that?

It’s interesting to say the least. You justify disengaging for the briefest of moment, only to investigate the interruption for a minute, with the full intention to returning to the subject at hand.

Before you know it, the day is spent. One thing or another has successfully distracted you enough that all your good intentions to be intently productive have failed, and you ask yourself, “Why?”

No need to berate yourself. We all do it, and there’s good reason.

If you’re of the scientific persuasion, it might make you feel better and give you the tools that you need to understand why your mind tends to wander (just like the rest of us) which may enable you to actually do something about it.

We all seek some kind of reward for doing the things that are less than enjoyable. Scientists who study the mind often reach down to lower creatures for clues to uncover the answers of why we do the things we do. Rats think, process instincts and reasoning skills are compact and plentiful, so they make excellent test subjects in the laboratory.

If scientists run tests on rats in cages with levers that dispense an edible treat they can come to reasonable hypothesis of how we also might respond to rewards by studying the results based on the psychology of animals.

Neuroscientists track the electrical and chemical activity of the rat’s brain as it responds to stimuli based on pressing levers and getting something in return, shedding light on how the mind works in terms of short term pleasure and long term happiness, which generates questions to ask about how the results might compare to the human brain.

The subcortex is the pleasure center of the human brain, which is also true for the brains of other animals on this planet including rats. If one were to administer an electrical charge to that portion of your brain, you would feel a surge of pleasure.

Though shocking humans at this spot on the brain is problematic, it can be triggered by drugs such as heroin.

Distraction is not always associated with pleasure. Your attention may be interrupted by something inconsequential and meaningless, which may never result in a sense of pleasure just as Heroin addicts can experience a great deal of need when they burn out the ability of their subcortex to reward their continued drug use, so they experience little or no pleasure response leaving them wanting more all the more as they try to achieve the result they were accustomed to during their regular drug use.

It’s the Wanting

Wanting something is what fuels our distraction. Desire circuits are located near the subcortex and are more prevalent than pleasure circuits and are triggered by the neurohormone, dopamine. The effect of dopamine in this part of the brain is the key component in addictions.

Even when no drug is present, just being reminded of situations, circumstances or any trigger that initiates recollection of the use of the drug, releases a dose of dopamine in the brain, making the addict want to use the drug again to re-experience the full effect even more.

We all are wired to want the things we like due to the desire and pleasure circuitry in the brain being so closely associated. The downside of addiction is that as you bombard the pleasure center repeatedly, it’s ability to make you feel the thrill decreases, leaving the addict to want more and more substance, while casual users are more likely to experience the original high without damaging the subcortex’s ability to thrill.

Engaging in fun activities that are not addictive always have a sense of pleasure associated with them, while routine activities are more closely associated with addictive qualities and become less enjoyable over time, like watching television or engaging with our electronic devices and social media.

We were so excited about our TV that we wanted more and more channels. Now those who have watched it most have hundreds of channels but can’t find anything to watch.

What does your phone use say about you?

Social media is the new heroin, as each interaction produces a dose of sweet dopamine which keeps us wanting/needing more and more… leading to the decline of organic conversation in our culture.

Now that you have a basic idea about why your body reacts like it does to certain stimuli, you might be able to withstand succumbing to the lure of distraction, allowing you to stay more keenly focused on the meaningful aspects of life, without getting derailed.

If you find that you are unable to disengage in the distractions of life on your own, you may need a little help from your friends (a coach, counselor or consultant) to break the addiction and resume your life and experience long term satisfaction and happiness.

You can do this.

Your best life is waiting for you.