Adrenaline Downer: Wrong Type Of Calm

This should be a quick blog this week. I wanted to hit on a subject that most seem to avoid. For those that know me, I’m a happy type. I laugh, joke, and make light of any situation. This stems from having a rough past where drama happened at home, church, and school. I want make life bearable for myself and my peers. I was that kid that everyone wanted to pick on. My skin was thin and I wore my heart on my sleeve. Though I have thicker skin now, I still keep my heart on my sleeve. I like it there for the world to see. Anywho, as a child I became angry; very angry.

When I got older I realized I didn’t want to be angry anymore. However, I didn’t know how to feel good. Happiness didn’t come natural. Happiness usually meant disappointment was around the corner. So I used what I had in order to be happy; anger.

This is how it worked on a chemical level. Stress would build, tension would increase, and I knew I wanted to “undo” the stress. This is where I would explode. Like a death-metal banshee screaming into a mic I would unleash a verbal assault onto my stressor. This would cause a surge of adrenaline to course my body, and it felt good. Once I was finished being angry, the adrenaline would dissipate. This would lead me into a chemical downer. This downer is where I want the focus of this blog to be.

Stress happens. However, a calm approach is most effective. Think of it as weather. Calm weather is not stressful. In fact, most of us would prefer it. Now think of the calm that comes after a large storm, tornado, or hurricane. That is the difference between calming down without loosing our temper, or picking up the pieces in the aftermath.

Our approach should never be violent. Words can be violent. Instead, we need to focus on being constructive. It’s taken me quite some time to reach this point. I know I’m not alone in this. We all have our moments.

So why bring it up. Because it needs to be said. We should never use anger to calm ourselves. Yes, that downer can feel good. Really! I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed coming off of a runners-high. But, anger is destructive. I believe anger has its place. (small tiny place) That place is not here. Adrenaline should never replace serotonin. If we want to calm ourselves, then we should do it in a calm manner. Breathing exercises, meditation, and good verbal practice should be at hand.

There is no anger in happiness. If we feel we can’t keep it together, then we need to get to a secluded area and proceed with our best impression of Napalm Death. Afterwards, breathe with the lower abdomen; slow, steady, and with purpose. It’s easy to beat ourselves up for losing control. However, if we lose it in a secluded area, then we lost it under our terms. A lot can be said about having that type of control.

Do I ever loss my temper? Yes. I still have moments of frustration. However, my peers are in the same boat as I am, and we are very supportive of each other. After all, we are all human. Well, it seems this blog wasn’t as short as I hoped. Expletive! 🙂

Until the next blog, live life, be happy, and find life’s happiness.

at1_retired@yahoo.com

Steve Curtis

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Climbing Out of a Hole

So here we are, stuck in a hole. Let’s keep it tidy and say it has four 8ft tall walls with floral print paper. We can see people walking by, and every once in a while someone looks down then continues on their way. Shouting doesn’t seem to do any good; a smile and a wave is the only answer we receive. In this 6ft x 6ft hole we have no way to scale the walls. Nope, we are down here alone.

Welcome to our state of mind. Though we can clearly see people around us, we are isolated. Our options for movement are limited. People are telling us to stop wasting time and climb out. How do we climb out of this hole? As stated, we’ve cried for help, but smiles don’t lift us up and out. We need someone to physically lend a hand. This requires time and effort from others. No one wants to be a bother to others. Hope fades with each hour we are in the hole. Days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into a year. We are tired and defeated. We have accepted the reality no one wants to get involved. No one has the time to help. No one cares. If there is no way out, why go on?

In our time in this hole we have seen three types of hands. The first type pulls us down. These are the people that feed off of the misery of others. They are the reason people say “misery loves company”. The second type pushes us down. We are their stepping stone. They exalt themselves at our expense. Look how better they are compared to us. This type of hand will also ask “what’s in it for me” when we ask for help. Lastly, we have the helping hand. The one that takes the time to help pull us out. Sometimes, it’s done by them just setting quietly beside us. These hands are rare. In a world where hands are quick to grab a phone and post videos online, genuine helping hands are rarely seen. “Look at how I helped” is not genuine. No, this hand seeks recognition. Don’t be that hand.

So, how do we get out of this hole? First we need to change. Our way of thinking is holding us down. People around us are holding us down. Negativity is winning. We need to stop blaming ourselves. The time for that has past. Now is the time for reconciliation. Face the fact. We do not deserve to stay in this hole. It’s not fair to our friends and family, and most importantly it is not fair to us to stay in this hole. If the hands around us will not help, or are not able to help, then we must call on other hands. This may require a helpline. Helplines not only provide a ladder for us to climb out with, but they also may provide guidance to prevent future falls.

The last thing we want to do is find ourselves in a hold with no way out.

Listen.

There is always a way out.

We are worth the time and effort to help. Never for a second believe otherwise. Being in a hole can have us feeling isolated, exhausted, a lack of appetite or an over abundance of appetite, worthless, or obsolete. Most of us have felt these feelings. No one is immune to falling in a hole. And when it happens we must do whatever is possible to climb out of the hole in order regain our life. You are so worth it.

Until next blog, stop staring at the floral paper 🙂 and take care.

at1_retired@yahoo.com

Steve Curtis

Happiness and Catecholamine Deficiency

Dopamine, that feel good nectar within our system that has us facing the world with a case of Ric Flair. WOO!

But for some, our bodies produce too little dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. This can lead to depression. Now before we dig too deep into this, please do not rush out to your depressed friend and say “Hey! I just read a blog that says your chemically imbalanced.” Not cool dude. Instead, take a deep breath, relax, and keep and open mind.

Did you know that the neurotransmitters mentioned earlier are called catecholamines? They are released during the body’s stress response. The effects of catecholamines include: increased heart rate, sending more blood flow to your skeletal muscles, pupil dilation, constricting the blood vessels in the skin, increasing glucose in your bloodstream, opening up your lungs, and making you feel excited. AKA Ric Flair mode. WOO!

If a person were to produce to little catecholamine, then they may end up under responding to stress or an emergency. On the other hand, a person that produces too much may over respond. This paints a clearer picture and presents a possible reason why one person may “freak out” while another person may stay calm during and emergency.

The quantity of catecholamines our bodies produce have also been linked to anxiety and depression. Is there anything we can do to help regulate production?

Reduce sugar intake- I know someone out there is screaming “Not my gumdrop buttons!” Sugar can disrupt dopamine production. This, in turn, can deplete dopamine levels in the blood system. Next thing you know we are addicted to sugar. Yep, sugar addiction is a real deal folks.

It would be wise to reduce caffeine to a moderate level. It too has similar addictive results. But, I’m not going to touch that one. Nope, far be it from me to stand in the way of a mother and her coffee pot.

Low levels of magnesium can cause decreased levels of catecholamine. Tests can determine if one has such deficiency. What can cause this? If your diet consists of heavy in junk foods or processed foods, then chances are you may have a magnesium deficiency. Please consult a doctor and find out for sure before assuming anything.

Depression does not deem one as mentally ill. Often times our habits are the reason behind our emotional state. Reducing stress, staying on a set schedule, and maintaining a good diet will help with depression and anxiety. Consult a doctor if symptoms of severe anxiety or severe depression exists.

Take into consideration the reason for the anxiety or depression. A death of a loved one may send some into a deep depressive state. A job loss may cause a financial instability that presents insomnia and anxiety. These are natural reactions. We react to adversity in different manners. Don’t assume you’re a basket case. You are a human being with human emotions. We all are. But, if life is grand and there is no apparent reason to be depressed or anxious, then one may be experiencing a catecholamine deficiency.

We deserve to be happy. Understanding what can prevent that happiness brings us one step closer to ensuring that we maintain our peace of mind.

Until the next blog, live life, be happy, and find life’s happiness

at1_retired@yahoo.com

Steve Curtis

Ambivert Happiness

For the last two weeks we have covered happiness concerning introverts and extroverts. Now enters ambivert. Behold! A person who is not fully introverted nor fully extroverted. For those of us who have been asked which “-verted” nature are we, this may feel familiar.

Believe it or not, there was a time when psychologists thought there were only two types of people; introverts and extroverts. And given the standard definition of happiness, extroverts were happier. TWO TYPES OF PEOPLE! That’s like saying water can only be hot or cold. [Buzzer sound] Wrong. In the same fashion that water can be a multitude of temperatures depending on the environment, we too can show different personalities.

Let’s create a scale (1-100). 1 will represent an absolute introvert and 100 will represent an absolute extrovert. Where on this scale would you feel comfortable saying you fall? If the scale was split into thirds, most of us would fall between 34-66 on the scale on an average day. Why did we say “on an average day”? Like water, we are affected by our surroundings. Our personality will slide up and down the scale.

Is there something within us that drives this reaction? Nerd Time! Scientists are beginning to understand the neural connection from the cerebellum to the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of the brain. Short story, the cerebellum contributes to our social behavior. What’s new is how it works with the VTA to produce a reward system that drives our social personalities.

So how do I know if I’m ambiverted? Do these apply to you?

I can work comfortably alone or with a group.

I can work at a station for some time, but being stagnant for too long is boring.

I can entertain small talk, but it’s not my forte.

Too much down time is boring. However, too much social time leaves me drained.

If this sounds like you, then you may fall into the ambivert personality class. The important thing to remember is to be honest with yourself. Don’t try to be a personality that you’re not. That would leave any of us drained. Knowing and understanding our personality and how they work is an important step in finding happiness. If you feel bored, get out and do something social. If you feel drained, find some alone time. As with any cycle there is a time to be out and there is a time to stay in. Here’s to finding that balance and finding life’s happiness.

Until the next blog, live life, be happy, and find life’s happiness.

at1_retired@yahoo.com

Steve Curtis

Extrovert Happiness

Do we even need to cover how extroverts need happiness? I mean, look at them. They are so outgoing and doing their go-getter things. They don’t need us telling them how to be happy. Right?

Life as and extrovert can have its challenges. For one, everyone expect them to always be ready to perform. News flash: extroverts need down time too. Taking the time to reflect is just as important as social interaction.

This also brings up a good point. Extroverts can be shy. This may throw a wrench in the typical way of thinking, but its true. So how do we tell. It comes down to what charges them up. They are the ones that love to be in a crowd and mostly associate with those they know. They aren’t reaching out, or chit-chatting. When someone new comes over they may stay quiet, but they are not withdrawn. Never assume someone is an introvert just because they are shy.

Extroverts need stimulation, a change in scenery, something to break up the monotony. If you are extroverted then plan several quick breaks when working on a long project. This will prevent a burn out. Something simple as making one lap around the office once an hour can make all the difference.

As with my blog on Introvert Happiness, extroverts need to identify what recharges their batteries. Also take note of what drains them. Not all extroverts are the same. It takes being honest and knowing that we may be different than others. This difference is not a mental condition nor does it make us a freak. In fact, it makes us unique. There is nothing wrong with being unique. We owe it to ourselves to find our happiness.

Until the next blog, live live, be happy, and find life’s happiness.

at1_retired@yahoo.com

Steve Curtis

Introvert Happiness

A large number of people are introvert and don’t even know it.

“I’m not an introvert. I like people.”

Sound familiar? Introverts are not always at home setting on the sofa setting in silence staring at the walls. I’m doing it right now because I want to. I can have fun… and stuff.

Some people love being in a crowd, while others prefer solitude. Which do you find more comforting? Can a crowd be too big? Can a room be too empty? Some introverts get positive energy from being in a crowd. They may not interact with the people, but being there is awesome. Introverts can also draw positive energy from solitude. There is nothing like the sound of silence that soothes my soul.

Does this sound confusing or contradictory. Just as there are different types of music, there are different types of introverts. Some introverts like quiet times and some introverts enjoy good company. What’s important is understanding where we draw our energy. We need moments to recharge in order to perform our best. This is why some of us go to the club before a huge presentation, while others will go home and nestle with a good book. A drained soul is not a happy soul.

Small talk is not a strong suit for introverts. Interactions with others will leave some of us drained. This is especially true when we run out of things to say and find ourselves listening to others ramble on about how they believe Boy George is such and under rated artist. I just want to hug these people, pat their heads and say, “There, there, there.” Then walk away.

My Navy Command use to throw picnics and it was a mandatory fun time. I disliked being in a crowd. I’d make my rounds, chat with enough people to let them know I was there, then stand at the grill and flip burgers. Yup, that grill master is a hidden introvert. I’m hiding behind that wall of smoke. (Not always)

I remember going to church when I was young. I did this up until my twenties. People walked out of the building all energized and ready to go. I didn’t. I learnt things and I gained insight, but I didn’t get that same power-up experience from being in a hot crowded room. I felt more energized from reading the scriptures in the solitude of my own home. For years I thought there was something wrong with me. But, with everything in life, we come to the realization that it’s OK to be different. It’s about finding what makes us happy.

Always be honest with yourself. Sure, we would love to be the life of the party and have everyone always wanting us to come over. Until we realize that we may like crowds, but not a lot of interaction. We may even get good at small talk, but not the lime light attention. There is a happy balance. Find it and embrace it. Everyone deserves to find life’s happiness; even if we do it in solitude.

Until the next blog, live life, be happy, and find life’s happiness.

at1_retired@yahoo.com

Steve Curtis

Health and Happiness Part 2

Welcome to another fantastic day of sunshine and love. Grab a friend and came along as we conclude our exciting blog on health and happiness… Too cheerful? Yea I thought so too. But, there is a lot to say about a happiness. Mostly focusing on the physical effects, we can see three major benefits. So grab a friend and come along… wait I already said that… “Expletive!” Moving on.

Happy people have fewer aches and pains. This is not to say they are bullet proof. No, people with a positive outlook on life tend to handle pain better. Is it because they are one with the universe and their crystals are aligned with the Virgo constellation? Um… I’m not even sure what that means. But, what I was going to state is that they produce endorphins. As stated in the last blog, endorphin is a pain killer. That my friend, is how those happy hippies are able to handle their physical pain. It is also a good time to mention that during physical therapy, patients who mentioned they were in a positive mental state recovered faster. Move over bionic man, happy man is here. Wow, that really doesn’t have the ring I was hoping for.

Happiness combats disease and disability. Our immune cells have endorphin receptors. I like to think of those receptors as coffee mugs and the endorphin my body produces is their coffee. Java junkies unite! With a boost to the immune system our body handles disease and sickness at a better rate. This is compared to someone who always has a case of the grumpy pants. Ever had a cold or flu that caused aches and pains? Of course, we all have. Being happy didn’t cure the cold or flu. No one ever smiled and suddenly got relieved of all symptoms. However, those that did smile through the sickness did have a faster recovery time. Miracles are instant, healing takes time. How much time depends on our physical health + mental health. I’m not going to say it’s easy to be in a positive mindset when our nose is running and eyes feel like popping out due to sinus pressure. No, it’s a deliberate act that takes practice. Anything worth doing take some amount of work.

Happiness lengthens our lives. The web of internet has a plethora of evidence that suggests that being happy prolongs one’s life. I like it when a newscaster asks a 101 year old person how they lived so long. The best answer I heard was from an old war vet. The newscaster asked her question and leaned in to get her answer. The gentleman started to think. “Well,” he began, “I just keep waking up.” He chuckled at his own words as the newscaster’s face reflected her disappointment. Forcing a smile she turned to the camera, “There you have it folks, just keep waking up.” She missed it. She missed the “expletive” point. The gentleman wasn’t saying “just wake up.” No, he was showing how to find humor in just waking up. Being able to laugh is one of our greatest gifts. Sadly, there are those among us that choose to use this ability to bring others down. Sad! Being able to find a reason to chuckle makes an ordinary situation great. It softens the blow to a devastating event. We will experience a lot of drama and hard times. We will also experience hope, happiness, love, and joy. Which one will we choose to focus on? That ladies and gentlemen is what will determine the longevity of our health.

Until the next blog, here’s to finding life’s happiness, living life, and being happy.

at1_retired@yahoo.com

Steve Curtis