I consider myself a happy person. I would generally say that I am surrounded by happy people. I have bouts of anxiety and have times when I just want to be in a bad mood for a bit; to test it out but the bad mood doesn’t linger to long. I have to give my wife credit for the latter. She is never in a bad mood. She has very short bursts of negative energy but reverts back to positivity very quickly.
Billions of dollars are spent annually on mankind’s efforts to achieve happiness. There is a long list of drugs that can be prescribed for your depression and an endless list of habits that attempt to make us happy.
Happy Hour emerged in the U.S. Navy in the 1920’s. It was a scheduled entertainment time that boxing and wrestling bouts took place. The Navy recognized that sailors needed a time to burn off stress.
Ironically, Happy Hour nowadays has nothing to do with exercise but more about how to double up your alcoholic intake in a short amount of time.
You can easily spend an hour on the chemical makeup of dopamine and its effectiveness in regulating pain and pleasure. And there is a long list of triggers that affect the production of dopamine, in particular Food & Exercise.
It is that “Fork in the Road” moment that we should focus on.
For many years I found food very comforting and at times of stress would seek out a meal. This instinctive behavior is ingrained from the moment we take our first taste of baby milk, our first lollipop after a Doctor’s visit. We have been rewarded for years with the carrot on the stick. We equate food with pleasure and naturally the more we are unhappy the more we eat.
The trick is to take the other path. You can achieve the same benefit but rather than gorging on calories to ease the pain, you can burn off calories.
I like to run long and far. Most Sunday’s I leave the house for four to six hours and explore 20-30 miles of the great outdoors. I had always heard of Runner’s High but I don’t think until recently I realized how much I need it. For me the high starts when the fatigue begins. I am not a masochist but I do seek out the tough runs for the euphoria I feel during and after.
Simply put, exercise makes me happy the same way a big fat meal used to. However, the big fat meal road to happiness was short-lived… usually replaced with guilt soon after. The exercise high persists well beyond the workout and even days later.
The greatest Happy Hour in town is the time you spend being physically active.
I have experienced a profound change in my attitude since my surgery and have blogged about it; http://wholefed.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/a-million-little-steps/
If you want to read a little more on Happiness, check out Shawn Anchor’s company; GoodThinkInc.. Shawn has built a business helping corporate America become happier.
“Scientifically, happiness is a choice. It is a choice about where your single processor brain will devote its finite resources as you process the world. If you scan for the negative first, your brain literally has no resources left over to see the things you are grateful for or the meaning embedded in your work. But if you scan the world for the positive, you start to reap an amazing advantage.
- Write down three new things you are grateful for each day;
- Write for 2 minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours;
- Exercise for 10 minutes a day;
- Meditate for 2 minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out;
- Write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a member on your team.
Most people believe that once they become successful, then they’ll be happy. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology and neuroscience have shown that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe.”