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One of the Cornerstones of Happiness? The Little Things

Continuing with yesterday’ blog about how much we take for granted I wanted to mention a few of the 100’s of things we look past every day. If you  take time each day to Look for items in your immediate surroundings that are relaxing, comforting, inspiring, informative, or helpful, your brain in only a few days will do this naturally. This focus will keep it rooted in the positives around you not the negatives. Look at your outdoor surroundings and the beautiful trees or warm faces that you see. If outdoors is not an option, see if you can see or feel something beautiful, like a picture on the wall, a comfortable chair, or even the sturdy floor. Think of something or someone you are glad to have apart of your life in your present or past. Think of how easy it is to find decent, clean clothes.  What would it be like if you had to walk a mile right now in order to get water from a well. Ponder for just a moment the images you see on TV of homeless, sick, hungry, and hopeless people. Focusing for the first time with real attention on any of these things I just mentioned will change your mood in just moments.

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Why Are You In A Bad Mood?

8-bad-moodYesterday I left off explaining what a mood is now I will explain where they can can from. When you find you are in “mood”  you may be able to rattle off a list of problems as to why, but it is actually the thoughts/beliefs about those problems that lead your mood down the dark tunnel. Unaware, you might suddenly snap at someone who asks a benign question or fly into a rage when the driver in front of you can’t make up their mind. But the real reason you get angry may be that you were still thinking about the argument you had with your spouse that morning.

Yesterday I found myself battling a mood. I tried to blow it off and move on but I should know better by now. I needed to do some investigating. What was stirring the pot for me was I had received my credit card bill. A whopper of over $1600! What did I buy? ….AIR apparently because I could see no luxury item, no fun new toy, no new clothes, as I looked around my house and I guess air was going at a premium last month! UHG! I had no plans of this. But it was life stuff the kind of things that nickel and dime you into poverty. By not addressing this on a conscious level from the “front office” I was stuck in the “back office” being chewed out for not paying more attention, and not knowing where I would pull those funds from to pay the bill. Once I wrote down my pan the berating stopped and I was ready to move forward.

The amygdala is evaluating all thoughts and situations throughout the day, triggering both big and small warnings. We have learned throughout the years to dismiss the small warnings by simply pushing them away, like I was trying to do not taking the time to shine the light of reality on them. So over the course of a day, these small ones gang up on us leaving us in a really crappy mood by the time dinner rolls around. Everything from feeling ignored in a meeting to having someone talk to you abruptly or having your boss give you less than his usual big smile can have your amygdala sounding the sirens.

The muddy waters of emotions

Emotional moments are always a thought away. Like I have been saying, real or imagined, any thought can cause an emotional upheaval and during that time, your thoughts do not represent an accurate picture of the truth, the past or future. There are two ways an emotion is triggered. A thought may trigger an emotion, and the emotion makes us believe the thought was a fact. The second way is without words or thoughts; your limbic system (emotional area of your brain) evaluates a situation that does not seem favorable to you. In either case, the stress hormone cortisol is released, you feel bad, and then you try to find reasons that validate your emotion. We feel better when we know why something happens, even if we have to conjure up some plausible reason, and those reasons, are always are determined by our perspective. Feeling bad is your “check reality light.” It means a thought is being allowed to stand as a fact. You can’t allow that without confirming its reality first.

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Do You Think Like an Addict? Yep We All Do!

We human beings are just like addicts, making decisions from one moment to the next based on 2 questions: What will give me the greatest amount of pleasure right now or the least amount of discomfort? Every situation—physical, emotional, or social—is fueled, directed, and regulated by the drug effect we are seeking from the brain’s own chemical pharmacy, and this pharmacy is open twenty-four hours a day! The timely release of the “feel good”  chemicals in the brain underpins a healthy emotional balance.

However, scientist know that we humans often take bigger steps to avoid the pain of feeling bad than to pursue feeling good and you are going to learn to reverse that. When we are trying to ease discomfort we may chase a hit of any of these three neurochemicals, by reaching for ice cream, having sex, or sitting down to watch a good movie; the multi-taskers in the group may attempt all three at the same time. However, as we all have experienced the feelings are short-lived. That is because these neurochemicals have a job, and that is to push our behavior in a direction, not put us in a “good mood”. That good feeling is just like the proverbial carrot, always tempting us to chase another short-lived buzz and it can become a vicious cycle. We don’t want the buzz we want a sense of wellbeing. This even effects our eating habits as we often eat foods for comfort not to feed our hunger. ( A subject I will be tackling in a future blog that I am writing for Psychology Today)

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As Your Brain Changes So Does Your Perspective

Dieting is another example of how beliefs/perception can alter people’s experience and outcome. In the first few months, many individuals become frustrated that they can’t eat the way others do. They may believe they are being deprived or even punished, causing a lowering of the feel-good chemicals, dopamine, and serotonin. However, if they stick with it, and begin to lose the weight, they feel better about themselves. Then their brains release hits of dopamine and serotonin whenever they just think about their new eating habits. (Why people go off their diet is a subject for an entire book). The job of these neurochemicals is to make us feel good when we do things that benefit us. The issue is that sometimes we have to teach our brains WHAT IS GOOD for us!

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Why People Don’t Believe The Facts

There are beliefs buried deep in our subconscious that we don’t even know exist, yet they steer our actions. Our evolutionary instincts have left us blind to this behavior. For example the degree to which we align with and commit ourselves to a group or cause is the degree to which we see only what they are seeing. I don’t really think we need to be told this however, we always think it the “others” who see only what they want. Like it or not it is us too. We don’t mean to, it’s not like we see the opposing facts and decide to ignore them, rather our brain only let’s us see what is “best” for us. This is why the Middle East will never have peace and republicans and democrats will never understand how the opposing party can “see it “ that way. Evolution has taught us that staying with “our group” is the best way to stay safe. Repeated studies have shown that we humans see only what we want to see, and hear only what we want to hear. This is why lawyers pick a jury according to what beliefs they hold, because they know they can sway them. The facts don’t matter. A really good point to remember next time you are in argument. No one is immune to this. Hold your opinions lightly. As far as evolution is concerned, being objective and making our own decisions often is not in our best interest, so the brain always steers us toward going along with “our” crowd. Only an extremely self-aware person who has no ego will have a shot to evaluate something from a purely objective stance, regardless of what others think.

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#beliefs #stopstressing #behappy #happiness #happiness #anger #moodiness #amygdala #dopamine #serotonin #oxytocin #feelbetter #stopworrying #eckhartTolle #present #opinions #amygdala #emotions #perspectives

Why Do You Text and Post? Why Are You a Fan Your Team? Why are You Religious?

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