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.
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.
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.
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.