So, I am trying to quit alcohol, I have never been a fan of pot. Conventional tea is boring, and one can't exercise 24/7. How do you increase endorphins and become "naturally" high and pleasant? Most humans are awful and the world is a generally miserable place. How do you keep your smiley-face up?
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Here are my few suggestions:
- High-reward foods. When I need an up, I eat foods that make me happy. And / or I cook. Something about it is exhilarating for me.
- If I can't exercise, i put on a good song and dance around.
- Spending time with my mate. When you enjoy someone's company, you get happy.
- Something creative. For me it's writing / music / theatre. I love my work, because it is so creative. For other people it is something else. But finding a way to express beauty, while not just about endorphins, helps to keep an optimistic perspective.
Finding what makes you happy takes time, and a bit of diligence. The people you're surrounded by, in my experience, are a big part of it. Find people who don't mind silly dancing, who love good music and good food, and who support living a free and creative life.
I quit the drink last year, after a long, long time abusing it.
The key concept here is brain chemistry. I don't know how long you have gone sober so far, but the longer you stay dry, the better your outlook on life will be.
Of course, if you decide to eat crap (all the stuff Paleo eaters don't eat) your mileage will vary.
Believe me. Stick to the diet, train when you're supposed to, keep dry, and you will find yourself feeling generally happier in a couple of weeks.
Finding passion in my life keeps me motivated, indulge all the weird little causes you've always wanted to invest yourself in. Mine: feminism, pro-vax, reading, stand up comedy, good TV (community, arrested development, freaks and geeks, big bang theory), youtube videos of adorable animals, cooking.
Probably the greatest, however, and the next obvious: sexy time.
Releasing endorphins and being naturally "pleased" are not the same goals to me. For the latter I take a lot of Vitamin D and eat clean. For the former, though, if you eat nightshades, learn to love the humble habanero (or small Thai chiles, if that's your preference). Nothing gets me on an endogenous buzz better than feeling like I'm on fire from the inside out.
I hit three years of sobriety this past Monday; I hit a month free of tobacco as of about an hour ago.
All of the biochemistry issues aside, I think the root of the solution comes in finding a way to not see most humans as awful and the world as a generally pretty rad place.
The other night I found some floppy disks (yes, floppy disks) in the bottom of a box that were close to two decades old. I found old writings, old fears... desires to change behavior that I wouldn't end up seeing a way out of for years and years and years.
I wonder how many of the people on this site are here seeking answers to questions and solutions to issues they've also carried that long? Better yet, how many are here because they're finally taking action? Finally stepping out of the cage?
All of the combined knowledge and experience here... and all of these people transforming their lives... and the awareness -- gained through my own practical experience -- that we all do have a second chance available to us if we really want it?
That keeps my smiley-face way up.
I find pleasant feelings and motivation from my personal projects (currently learning Japanese and eventually other languages, learning about health, and other brain- and body-enhancing activities). I always feel better about doing things when I'm doing it on my own and in my own way.
Another one is human connection. Just being with interesting people and talking with them is enough to raise my mood (though I would not call myself an extrovert). If I have a close connection with them, it's even better.
Mother Nature is doing it for me. Here in the extreme southern tip of Nevada we're having longer, balmy days. Walking around outside in the sunshine and having days so much longer than they were a month ago has really lifted my spirits. I get a joy rush every time I go out, even if it's just to walk the dogs or take out the trash. :-))
have sex! as much and dirty as possible. you will smile randomly just by the thought of it. pleasing your animalistic instinct will get you high for sure.
(this is an actually serious answer; even if it sounds like it's written by a horny teen.)
Well, the impractical, philsophical answer is love. Khalil Gibran says that without it you will "laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of you tears." You can't really order that on Amazon, so...
I am usually happeist when I have a project going on. For example, I just started playing the cello and when I am learning a new song is it pretty consuming. Also, I had to give a talk and demonstration on careers. This sounds boring, but I wanted to do a good job and had a great time coming up with a solid hour of cool stuff. Also, I recently decided I really wanted to hide something. Yes, hide something. I know it sounds odd, but I had a blast trying to figure out where to hide it, how to hide it, how to get to it when I needed it, etc. All kinds of angles. The point was I was engaged in something. Find something new or interesting, resolve to tackle it, and doing it extremely well. You'll wonder where the time went.
Don't go the chemical route. That ALWAYS takes more than it gives (except coffee!)
Many excellent answers! For me it is spending time with my family and helping others. IMO, Happiness is a byproduct of "doing the next right thing" and being in sync with whatever your concept of a Higher Power is. You have to give it away to keep it!
Check out this article about turning off lights at night, and the out of the blue uncontrollable giddiness J.D. Moyer and his wife discovered.
I suspect you are running a little low on those brain hormones that make everyday normal life entertaining, especially if drinking runs right up to bedtime. Snoozing without boozing will result in more restorative sleep and help you restore those hormones. It won't happen overnight, and life might feel a little grey in the interim, but it'll happen.
Edit: Thinking back to when I decided to do that, I swapped drinking for meditation and pilates for a month. It only took a few days before it felt like my brain was squirting out the "good stuff" for my enjoyment. Even though I went back to my old ways to a certain extent after that month, it had changed my brain in a way that trained it to release feel good chemicals on a regular basis as long as I feed it right.
If you are looking for a straight up endorphin release, I was able to train my endorphin response for childbirth by practicing with holding my hands or arms in ice water for a minute or two at a time with a 2-5 minute break, and then back in for a half hour a day. No reason its applications should be limited to childbirth though. It takes a few practices before you start to get that riding the endorphin wave feeling, but it is pretty fun when you get there.
I'll echo the support in favor of letting go of alcohol, which I did for good this past August. I had already taken a hard stance against it before I found Paleo, but now I have an even bigger reason not to touch it. My feeling is that it doesn't line up with putting clean, whole foods and substances in my body. I know some are okay with it, though, and that's cool. I myself am much better off without it.
Spending time with my kids and people I'm close to keeps me happy.
I get a lot of pleasure out of playing and listening to music.
Then there's always sex!
Buying clothes and shoes (that I can't afford) gives me a great high.
As a reckless dopamine addict myself, here are some healthy alternatives
- get in the sun
- lift weights
- have sex
- go for a run
- corral some friends and go swimming....naked
- innocently flirt with a total stranger
I just quit the drink. I was abusing both coffee and beer because I also had crazy sleep schedule and a lot of stress (long boring story). I just solved the sleep problem, started eating clean and exercising a LOT, and then quitting the bottle was easy. The key is that I didn't just quit the bottle; I fixed the other issues first. Before I did that, I was pretty much hooked. Like the other post said, alcohol can cover up problems that really need to be dealt with.
But if you have had all the exercise and good food and sex you can handle and still need a boost try coffee. It is a lot less bad than alcohol.
That all said I have to admit sometimes my workouts are a lot like my former heavy drinking bouts. I go really hard until I can hardly stand up. The difference is what happens next.
Exercise still gives the rush even afterwards.
Since I went Paleo and then Paleo-ketogenic, I'm always happy, and there are times that I feel naturally high (starting laughing like a maniac, but in a good way). My brain chemistry has really changed since I changed my diet, I have no situational depression anymore either.
UPDATE: A month after I wrote the answer above, I had more info on my hands, and I wrote a blog post about the ketogenic euphoria/bliss people under ketosis are often experiencing: http://eugenia.queru.com/2012/03/07/bliss/
Happiness is a combination of features that has little to do with temporary pleasure seeking.
A sense of place/purpose, community, a sense of freedom, proper eating,exercise, sunlight, hugging, loving, orgasm, laughter, looking after plants and pets are all things that boost your baseline happiness. Baseline happiness is what you want to improve, not temporary retreats.
If you are stressed, thats different. Good non-drug strategies include tai chi, meditation, reading a book, watching a movie, running, taking a bath, or just plain relaxing till it goes away. If that doesnt work, try a herbal tea. Lotus, red poppy & egyptian chamomile are great relaxing teas.
Theres good pleasure in good food, beauty, human company etc. No need for "drugs" unless your life is crappy, or the people around you are crappy, and then drugs wont help you get happier anyway, theyll just stop you thinking about it temporarily which means you'll do nothing about it.
Might sound lame, but I've taken to watching very early Popeye episodes. They're a lot more primal than the baby-stuff after the 1940s. Besides, eating spinach and pounding the hell out of the other guy is just very primal, and violent... When he runs, he actually gallops like a horse... or when he takes on a bull and punches him into a bunch of sausage, steaks, and liver... and there's one when he beats up an entire jungle of animals and turns'em into fur coats... Unlike other TV shows, it makes me want to go out there and wrestle a lion, or something.
But yeah, the usual answers, exercise, sunlight, hot shower with a cold ending after a workout, enjoying great meats every day, like steak and shrimp when everyone else is eating crap, gettin' busy, enjoying life.
Before paleo, I'd keep a list of stuff to do, and the more I completed, the happier I felt, it's lame and artificial, I know, but it's a sense of accomplishment and progress. That helped.
Take up "exercise" that's more rewarding.
Nice try, but I'd say get used to disappointment. Life aint all fun. I think that just like being comfortable all the time will make you a weak flabby pansy, feeling good when you wouldn't normally, naturally feel good (without chemical stimulants, made by your brain or imported) will probably leave you mentally weak and flabby, and a mental pansy. You need a balance of hard times and misery and good times and fun, because thats what real life is made of, good times and shit times. So don't try to cheat life.
Also you know how taking pain meds only cover up the problem, they won't fix it? Then you don't think your hurt and usually wind up injuring yourself even more because pain never told you to stop, that you were broken, because you shut it up with some dope. Well I think the same goes for feeling good with chemical assistance, even if those chemicals come from your own head when you do something known to illicit an endorphin response, like hardass workouts or ice baths or whatever. Those endorphins just cover up whatever is actually going on with your emotions. They are just like pain meds, they cover things up. Treat the problem, try to not do things you hate, that way you won't need a 'fix' to feel good. If your life is so miserable that you 'need' a fix to make you happy, to make life worth living, you might try changing your life so that it doesn't piss you off so much, instead of applying 'pain meds' to a problem you never treat. Sometimes you just declare to the world "I'm grumpy, stay outta my way!" It usually will.