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.

 

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.

Celebrate Good Times Come On

Every now and then good stuff happens… and it’s easier to document now, more than ever. Most everyone has a cellphone with a camera built in. I’m still getting adjusted to all this communication technology, where we’re all more connected digitally, thanks to the high-tech gadgets and apps that keep coming out regularly.

Even though my kids live out-of-town, we can keep in contact in real-time and I absolutely love sharing in all the little celebrations, no matter what they are or where they are.

I share in their wins, celebrating with them, and share the celebrations with my friends, like, “there’s a party going on right here…”

celebrate celebration celebrity celebrations celebrate good times

It is so important to celebrate all the things that happen in your life – even if they are small wins – you should celebrate them in a big way.

Why?

Because celebrating your wins enthusiastically acts like a happiness magnet. The more you celebrate the good stuff, the more good stuff comes to you.

 

Thanks to Kool and the Gang for the celebration soundtrack
 

Celebration Hack

Here’s a hot tip to supercharge your happiness, goodness and life moments worth celebrating:

Celebrate Enormously

If your celebration attracts more celebratory events, it stands to reason (and it’s true) the more enthusiastically you celebrate, the better the events to celebrate that are attracted for you to celebrate.

The benefits of exaggerated celebrating include the increased biochemical release of hormones like Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin and Endorphins. It’s the perfect cocktail for a natural high, with the added benefit of attracting even more of the same. Based on your enthusiasm, you can expect even more in both frequency and volume.

I Don’t Feel Like Celebrating

It’s understandable that when you’re feeling blue or under the weather, you may not feel like celebrating much. This is when it’s most important to muster up as much celebratory ambition as possible, because of the whole attraction-thing.

When something good happens worth celebrating, even if it’s not about you (it might be something good that’s happened to someone else, like your friend, child, grandchild, relative or even a celebrity) just the act of sharing someone else’s good fortune helps to release the celebration hormone cocktail. So, brace yourself…

We’re gonna have a good time tonight
Let’s celebrate, it’s all right

Even if you cannot manage to be feeling very happy at the outset, sharing it with someone who has more capacity to embrace someone else’s celebration, helps release more celebration hormones within you, like a happiness virus, it doesn’t take long and you’re feeling much better.

Want even more?

No problem, find someone else to share the same information with, next thing you know you’re a full-on celebration machine!

And as you ramp up all that celebratory enthusiasm, you know what happens next:

Ya-hoo!

Here comes even more stuff to celebrate

Comin’ down the pike

Say, “Goodbye,” to your funk and, “Hello,” to your best life of enthusiastic celebration.

So bring your good times and your laughter too

We gonna celebrate and party with you

See also: Happiness How to be Happy

Miss More I Need a New Drug

Ever really enjoy a certain thing so much that you just want to do it all the time?

Then time passes… you’re doing the thing that is so much fun – a lot – then it’s just not as fun as it used to be. You look for ways to spice it up, to add new life to your old source of inspiration and relight the fire… and it works… for a while.

MIss More I Need a New Drug - jetrelAs you single-mindedly focus on this activity that brought you so much pleasure, in the knowledge that participating in it always makes you feel good, you continue to regain those good feelings by doing it more or in different ways.

Disappointment leads to seeking other ways to satisfy one’s need to feel good and you find yourself in search of the services of Miss More. Miss More knows what you want and has the resources to help connect you with that which you seek.

I Need a New Drug

It’s no different than the life lived by a drug addict.

Our brain seeks pleasure; we want to feel good. Participating in an activity that gives our brain a surge of Dopamine gives us the pleasurable response of that feeling great experience that we all desire. If doing something makes us feel good, Miss More assures us that we will feel even better if we do it even more.

The Problem

As we engage in a similar activity over and over again, the neurological connections between the pleasure-seeking system and the Dopamine-producing components of the brain begin to deteriorate.

Just like the recreational user of drugs, like cocaine, who receives a huge surge of Dopamine when they take the drug, needs more and more of the substance over time. In many cases the user becomes increasingly more addicted to the substance, as previous doses achieve less satisfactory levels of joy.

Of course there are other things that spike Dopamine levels that make us feel really good too, like falling in love, longing to be intimate with a particular person, making out, consummating our affection physically, taking a chance with the possibility of great reward or enjoying the most flavorful foods.

All very good activities that create a natural neurotransmission of Dopamine, making us feel so amazingly wonderful. Is it any surprise that we embrace the activities that make us feel so good?

Even though we have access to the very best meal of all time – if it’s all you eat – satisfaction wanes, leaving you wanting more.

‘Ere the things that once brought us great pleasure lead us down a path to lust, infidelity, excessive gambling and other irrational addictive behaviors.

This also applies to other activities, like climbing the corporate ladder, entrepreneurial activities, investment strategies, greater learning and spiritual aspirations.

The Solution

The first rule in sustained joy is to maintain a more consistent level of the Dopamine molecule without running the risk of destroying the connection between the desire and the Dopamine neurotransmitter. So,

Do what you love

Engage in the activities that make you happy. These are good things (as long as they don’t impinge on the rights of others) whatever they are. Just don’t do it obsessively. When Miss More shows up with the answer, kindly acknowledge her affirmation of how wonderful you’re feeling, and

Do it in moderation

It really is as simple as maintaining the connection between what you want and the pay-off of pleasure.

Miss More shocked by moderation - jetrel
Miss More just can’t believe that you don’t have to have it now!

Do something else – in between – and do what brings you the most satisfaction with moderate frequency. Realizing, full well, that Miss More will be somewhat disappointed (something she’s not accustomed to) if you entertain her with moderation.

Use it as a reward

In this manner, you can increase your productivity by engaging in activities that are less satisfying (doing the things that need to be done that have little or no sense of satisfaction) then engaging in the Dopamine-producing activity after completion out of duty.

 

See, Miss More will still be on-board, just held at bay somewhat (she’ll get used to it) and you’ll be happier and have more satisfaction over time.

Love, love, love.