Monday, January 25, 2021

4 - Emotions 1

1.1 – Visual example of how emotions are evoked

First test: If you don’t sense or feel anything moving in your body-mind unit after having seen this clip until the end, then you’re somehow emotionally different abled as most people (again, some kind of shot in the dark, since I don’t know most people!). In any case, since in some way or another, we all belong to different Neuro-tribes, each of us has a distinct reaction to outside and inside emotional triggers. 

 2 – Two flashlights on emotions
  • Most of us accept the way our heart flutters when we set eyes on the one we secretly admire, or the sweat on our brow as we start the presentation we do not want to give. But few of us are fully aware of how dramatic our body’s reactions to emotions can sometimes be. 
Suzanne O’Sullivan 
It’s all in your head 

  • Emotions, from blinding rage to wide-eyed love, are the body’s immediate, physical responses to important signals from the outside world. 
Susan David 
Emotional Agility 

 3 – Two questions

 • What’s the emotion you use most in your daily life?

 • What are the emotions you don’t allow yourself to feel? 

Some people suppress or deny their emotions, it seems that they are afraid of them, because it seems that some emotions are too strong and cause too much pain. So these humans don´t know and they don´t feel their emotions, instead they feel comfortably numb, which in a lot of cases is better than feeling an intense emottional pain. 

When I was a child, 
I caught a fleeting glimpse 
Out of the corner of my eye 
I turned to look, but it was gone 
I cannot put my finger on it now
 The child is grown 
The dream is gone 
And I have become 
Comfortably numb 

There are times when becoming emotionally numb may help you to survive a threat and danger to your integrity, and that´s when your mind wanders out of reality, just to protect you: 

  • As the sexual abuse continued, I started emotionally and mentally checking out. This numbness became frequent. Becoming numb, completely detached from the situation and my emotions somehow made it all okay. 
Bonnie Kelly 
True To Your Core: … 

 4 – Emotions in different language games 

 4.1 – Intellectual and/or academic language games and how they describe and/or explain emotions 

If you want to listen to the shrinks of the American Psychological Association (APA), then they will tell you that an emotion is “a complex reaction pattern, involving experiential, behavioral and physiological elements.” 

According to this definition, an emotion contains at least three core elements: 

 A) A subjective experience = some stimulus awakes something in you; your attention focuses on the stimulus. 

B) A physiological response = like you breath faster, your heart pumps more blood and oxygen to the organs, etc. 

 C) A more or less visible body reaction = that means that people can see (or not) in what kind of emotional state you are in, in that precise moment (some people are more acustomed to understand bodily reactions than others!). 

 In other words, Emotions are sensory impressions which involve physical and psychological experiences that influence our reactions and actions in a given situation. Emotions influence our thinking, taking decisions, making choices, and, last but not least, our behaviour and the sensations of our body. 

Different emotions can lead to the same physiological reaction, in a way that both sadness and joy can make us cry, like infatuation and anger both can make us feel hot and energic, and also excitement and fear both can make our heart beat faster. 

It seems that emotions come up or we create them, when we deal with matters or situations we find personally significant, a spectrum that goes from the most life threatening to the most pleasurable and everything in between. 

That means at the same time, that different people may have different emotions in the same situation, and that the same person may react to the more or less same situation at another time completely different. 

The definition of what an emotion really is, is still not accepted by all scientists, some say that emotions are triggered and others say that we create our emotions. So there are two teams of word workers that fight for the legitimate sovereignity to define "what emotions are and how they influence us". these two teams of concept definers are completely antagonistic in the fight for the right definiton of what emotions are and all other questions related to emotions and feelings. 

The first team plays a language games where, always according to that team, emotions are hardwired into our brain and these emotions are more or less the same in all cultures around the world. 

The second team plays a language games where emotions are softwired into our body-mind unit since toddler age, that means that emotions are learned and then created by ourselves. According to this team, emotions are social constructions, learned especially during childhood and teenage years, and these emotions and their expressions are relative and specific to each culture. 

One team talks about the hard wiring of emotions in our brain (emotions are universal and innate by genetic inheritence = nature). 

The other team talks about the soft wiring of emotions (emotions are relative and contingent by learning them in real life in a certain culture = social construction). 

In everyday parlance emotions and feelings are used interchangeably, whereas some psychologists say that emotions are unconscious and that feelings are consccious, which means that first comes the emotional experience and when you get conscious about it, it converts into a feeling. 

Considering that somehow believable view, a feeling is based on and the result of an emotional experience, and may be influenced by your present situation and environment, by your past memories, your unconscious beliefs and social factors you may or may not be aware of. 

Anyway, I will use most of the time, as an average everyday language gamer, ‘emotion’ and ‘feeling’ interchangeably. 

To resume (as far as I nearly understand it!): 

According to Neuroscientists and Psys, the emotional experience is that you feel something in a given moment and situation. 

Whereas the feeling is the interpretation and the story in your mind that goes with or that you invent to label and understand the emotional experience somehow. Under this perspective, all feelings are therefore labelled and interpreted emotions by you. You tell yourself what you´re feeling, since emotions don´t come with a name tag attached. What you feel is always an interpretation by you, even if you´re not conscious of it. 

4.2 – Attention please!!: Some red flags of caution for the linguistically innocent who still believe that words mirror some kind of real reality 

Whenever you find different descriptions and definitions for the same “thing” or “word”, that means that the question at hand is not very clear and that the word or concept refers to something which in a way is intangible and fluid by its own “nature”. 

Emotions just fall in this category of “things” that come and go like the waves of the ocean, sometimes you don’t see the waves, the surface of the water seems to be without any movement, and at other times the waves burst out with the energy of a deadly tsunami, which may affect a lot of other “things” on its path. 

So the question remains: how to classify and normalize our “emotions” in one agreed definition. We don’t have that by now, but I have listed further down a few more examples of how some mind-word-workers describe and define “emotions”: 

The only thing clear about emotions is that they are not very easy to define for a lot of people, even when these people are experts in the field of putting labels to changing and fleeting intangible “things”: • 

  • Even in such a limited field as English-language experimental psychology, ninety-two different definitions of emotion have been counted between 1872 and 1980. The sheer difficulty of defining emotion is often treated as its leading characteristic,… 
Jan Plamper 
The History of Emotions

 'Cause there we are again on that little town street 
You almost ran the red 
'cause you were lookin' over at me 
Wind in my hair, I was there 
I remember it all too well 

We remember people, places and situations  because they had, at some moment in time, a special emotional significance for us! Without emotional appraisal, our memory forgets easily or doesn´t even register the event in the first place! 

Acting Emtional intelligent is to know that

People won´t remember what you said.  
People won´t remember what you did, 
but they will always remember 
how you made them feel. 
Maya Angelou 

4.3 – The difficult task of knowing what you are feeling 

There are probably hundreds of words for English symbols users with which they can label their internal emotional states, but most people only use and know just a few of them. Knowing more words for identifying and labelling your internal sensations doesn’t mean that you experience more emotions than other people, it only means that you can put more and different labels on your internal sensations than others. 

 And then again, that doesn’t mean that you label your emotions correctly (whatever that means!), since the labelling of your emotions is always a very personal interpretation, which depends, as already mentioned, on your DNA, vour personal history, your upbringing, your current environment you´re living in, your status in society, and other influences you are not even aware of. 

 Sometimes you may think that you’re angry, when in reality your body sensation is more of sadness (retire, hide), but when you believe that you are angry, you are in a kind of active mode, whereas when you define your emotional state as sadness, passivity and depression may creep in, as you may fall back into a passive state of hopelessness. What you believe is what there is and how you will react! 

If you don’t know how you feel right now, don’t worry, you’re not alone! In general humans can’t identify their emotional base line, nor their actual emotional state in a normal everyday situation. Humans only realize their emotions when some sensationsi inside their bodies increase about certain levels, so then these sentient mammals become aware of their emotional experience. 

Once again, to some "subjects supposed to know", some of us seem to feel nothing at all, they function with what psychologists call “Alexithymia”, which means that they are unable to identify and describe how they feel. The Wikipedia article and other authors claim that around 10 % of the population in Western countries are unable to describe their emotions and as a byproduct they can’t identify the emotional states of others, which doesn’t help that much in establishing and maintaining smooth social relationships. 

If you want to know how good or less good you are in your recognizing skills of emotions, you can try the Toronto Alexithymia Scale to measure your skills or unskills in understanding, guessing and describing emotions, which may help you in your relations with other sentient animals.  

Not knowing your and the emotional state of others may cause some problems in personal- and work-relationships, but being able to describe your emotions and using more words for any kind of emotional experience doesn’t mean that you have a deeper understanding of your emotions and how you deal, regulate and balance them in real life situations. Maybe yes, maybe not! 

If you want and can, remember also: 
  •   …just because we can give the behaviour or symptom a name, doesn’t mean we actually know anything about what is going on
Andrew T. Austin 
The rainbow machine … 

How life may look like without feelings. 

4.4 – Emotions and feelings in mass media narratives 

Most cultural products like books, movies and songs are about human mammals and their emotional reactions to others and the obstacles life presents in the process of living and attaining their goals (money, fame, trophy wife or status husband, etc.). The stories we like to read or watch most are the ones where we can identify with the emotions of the protagonists of the story, that means, in most of the cases the stories and lyrics evoke love, anger, fear, loss, sadness and last but not least courage, the one human quality that conquers all obstacles and afterwards the main characters live forever young. 

Just by pure coincidence, love, anger and fear are the emotions we all know all too well, and so the stories we prefer are about humans who fall in love (Romantic novels and movies) and face all kinds of misunderstandings and obstacles (Romeo and Juliet, You’ve got an email, …) until they can live and love happily ever after (in stories and movies yes, and in ...?). 

In any case, these mass media narratives not only describe, but at the same time prescribe the emotions we have to feel in certain situations and with other people. The clearest example is the narrative of Romantic Love, invented in Western Europe first with the Troubadours and later on amplified by the writers and philosophers of Romanticism, a few hundred years ago. 

Then again, Romantic Love and a lot of other “things” seem to look always better in movies and in books than in real life. Somehow the scripts of lone thinkers and overstressed hollywood screen writers are much more gratifying than the so labelled romantic love in real life. 

Another genre where emotions play a central role, are the tragedies,which tell the story of someone who has been terribly wronged (Greek and other tragedies, Action movies, movies of the Wild West. Bhagavad Gita) and consequently gets tremendously angry and seeks and succeeds in taking revenge (Medea, Electra, Hamlet, Unforgiven, …). 

Sometimes the act of revenge includes lesser or greater “collateral damages”, which means in less euphemistic language that not only the “guilty” ones have been captured and/or murdered, but also that innocent kids and adults have been killed, who had the bad luck (which in general is no luck at all), to be in the wrong place at the exact wrong time. 

So, at least in so called Western cultures (Europe, North America) the majority of stories (social narratives) produced and distributed by mass media are about humans and their emotional reactions and following actions in relation to other people and the life-events and obstacles they face. These social narratives include the comics of, for ex., Superman, Spiderman, Hulk, Wonder Woman, Mickey Mouse, etc., which all of them not only prescribe how you should feel in certain situations, they prescribe also how you should live, the values that make you a good citizen in a given society (being just, being helpful, punishing the bad guy, etc.). 

At the same time, our family, the educational system and all the cultural products we consume, not only tell us what and when we should feel something, but they tell and show us also how and when we can express these feelings.  

Being alone you may cry and feeling sad whenever you feel like it. Being in society induces us to paint a social smile on our faces, which is what is expected of us when we  connect and deal with other social animals. 

She's always smiling
When you see her day to day
But she's been crying
While you looked the other way
She's often hiding
To save you from the pain
That she's been fighting
In the most mysterious way

Other kind of stories we read and watch which are not so focused on emotions, like real science books full of tecnical concepts and interesting documentaries, don’t have the mass appeal and don’t hook most of us as much as the stories full of emotional sound and fury, evoking and signifying at the same time the reality of the social world for most of the sentient beings called humans. 

You may consider, if you want to write a book: 
  • Every mathematical equation in a book reduces its potential readership by a factor of one hundred! 

4.5 – To conclude or confuse even more, here are some opinions of some “Subjects supposed to know” who had seized during a short moment in time the interpretative sovereignity to talk, define and write about “emotions” 

  • The emotions are all those affections which cause men to change their opinion in regard to their judgements, and are accompanied by pleasure and pain; such are anger, pity, fear, and all similar emotions and their contraries. 
The art of rhetoric 

  • Emotions are specialized states that adjust physiology, cognition, subjective experience, facial expressions, and behavior in ways that increase the ability to meet the adaptive challenges of situations that have recurred over the evolutionary history of a species. 
Randolph M. Nesse 
Good Reasons for Bad Feeling

  • Instead, the hallmark feature of emotion appears to be that they are directed toward a specific object or event. Although debate continues, there is emerging consensus that the key defining feature is that emotions are responses to events or circumstances – they are “about” something.

  • They are intentional states, in the philosophical sense, meaning they are directed toward the environment. People do not just feel happy or angry – they feel joy about a recent meaningful success or they feel angry about an insult. Thus discrete emotions include those states that are separable and identifiable responses to specific events or conditions. These responses can include emotions that are positive or negative and intense or mild, such as anger, joy, boredom, pride, and love. 
Heather C. Lench (Ed.) 
The Function of Emotions 

  • To make simple the complete definition, an emotion is considered an advanced mental state that involves 3 distinct components: a subjective situation, a physiological response, and a behavioral or communicative response. 
  •  We avoid the difficult conversation with our colleague; we explode at a loved one; and we helplessly go through an entire bag of cookies and have no idea why. When we deny ourselves the permission to feel, a long list of unwanted outcomes ensues. We lose the ability to even identify what we’re feeling—it’s like, without noticing, we go a little numb inside. 
David M. Buss 
The Evolution of Desire: … 
  • But here’s the twist: pets don’t feel emotions. And before you find yourselves defending a hill marked MY CAT LOVES ME, it’s not just pets. Humans don’t feel emotions, either. Emotions are just a bunch of feelings that English-speaking Westerners put in a box around two hundred years ago. Emotions are a modern idea—a cultural construction. The notion that feelings are something that happens in the brain was invented in the early nineteenth century. 
Richard Firth-Godbehere 
A Human History of Emotion:… 

  • Our emotions are a big part—maybe the biggest part—of what makes us human. And yet we go through life trying hard to pretend otherwise. Our true feelings can be messy, inconvenient, confusing, even addictive. They leave us vulnerable, exposed, naked to the world. They make us do things we wish we hadn’t done. It’s no wonder our emotions scare us sometimes—they seem so out of our control. Too often we do our best to deny them or hide them—even from ourselves. •
  • It is that emotions are most typically caused by evaluations - psychologists also call them appraisals - of events in relation to what is important to us: our goals, our concerns, our aspirations. Emotions may include bodily changes such as a glow and smile of happiness, the pounding heart of anxiety, the clenched fist of anger. Indeed, William James argued that an emotion is the perception of any such bodily change. 
  • Emotions are based on what we know, and they include thoughts, sometimes obsessive thoughts, about what has happened or what might happen next. Emotions also often create in us urges to act in an emotional way in relation to someone else: we might feel an urge to hug that person or to stomp out of the room. Emotions give life its urgency. They are, as Nico Frijda has said, states of immediate readiness to act. 
Keith Oatley 
Emotions: A Brief History 

  • Our emotions, according to the classical view, are artifacts of evolution, having long ago been advantageous for survival, and are now a fixed component of our biological nature. As such, they are universal: people of every age, in every culture, … 
  • Even after a century of effort, scientific research has not revealed a consistent, physical fingerprint for even a single emotion.
  •  … a radically different explanation for emotion comes to light. In short, we find that your emotions are not built-in but made from more basic parts. They are not universal but vary from culture to culture. They are not triggered; you create them. 
Lisa Feldman Barrett 
How Emotions Are Made 

 Seems like that our emotions are involved in everything we choose and do! If you don´t feel anything, you belong to a Neurotribe whose members don`t know and don´t feel emotions (or they  are completely numbed out!). That may somehow complicate your dealings with the humans who belong to the more numerous Neurotribe whose members come and function with an embedded software of emotions and/or feelings. And anything and everything may create nice or less nice feelings, depending on your personal preferences! Music is one of these "things" that induce a positive emotional experience (again, depends on the music and your very subjective taste). Just enjoy the emotional experience that different cultural products offer you!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

7 - Happiness (and/or joy)

In search of lost HAPPINESS

1 – Visual example of joy in action

The joy of giving without showing that you are the one who gave freely, no strings attached. A lost art still alive in fairy tales and in magic places, sometimes mentioned in ancient stories and still evoked in modern publicity, but rarely practiced in real life. 

2 – Three flashlights on joy and/or happiness 

The mere sense of living is joy enough. 
Emily Dickson 

 Happiness isn't the reward for a life well-lived,...
It's the mechanism used to control our behaviour.
Paul Kwatz
Conscious robots

Stupidity, selfishness and good health are the three prerequisites of happiness, though if stupidity is lacking the others are useless.
Gustave Flaubert

 3 – One question 
  • What brings you moments of joy or happiness?
Celebrating, singing and dancing with others can give a lot of joy to people, as long as it is limited in time, you are invited as a guest, and you are not one of the many who have to organize before, serve during and clean up afterwards. 

4 – Joy and/or happiness in language games 

We talk about joy and/or happiness saying to us and others: “That's right”, or “That's nice”, “It feels so good!”. What we experience, judge, feel or perceive as right or nice triggers the feeling of joy in us. Just like what we think is beautiful. People with a high energy level of joy or happiness help us to consciously perceive and recognize the tiny graceful things in the world, instead of always concentrating on those items that we don’t like. 

With joy it’s the moment to get a little bit lyrical somehow: With it and/or happiness you are floating in a light element, you are enjoying life in the here and now, you don’t worry anymore about the money you owe and which you don’t have, because you’ve spent it somewhere somehow. 99-Happiness is like a trip in a helium balloon during fine weather, you think you can float very high, and for a while it’s perfect, but the laws of physics (gravity, 2nd law of thermodynamics) and the psychological law of “habituation” catch up with you eventually, the biological law of the “call of nature” will appear eventually, and the happy feeling won’t last as long as imagined beforehand, because in real life there are always things to do, questions to answer and problems to be solved. 

Any kind of feeling won’t last forever, and happiness or joy is no exception, so you have to enjoy the pleasing moments of your life in the here and now, since impermanence is the name of the game for all your enjoyments, and for all your struggles as well! 

Also, when we reach an objective or goal, when we accomplish something important or when good news reach us, our brain produces and releases dopamine and we just start to feel great. As mentioned, the downside is that the effect won’t last for long. Within hours or days we return to our default state of ordinary numbness of not feeling. Evolution hasn’t engineered us to be happy all the time, since it “knew” that if we were happy all the time we wouldn’t get up to go to work in a neon-lighted office or in a machine-oil smelling garage 8 hours a day and for 40 to 50 years. A happy (drunk or enlightened) person would say: “That isn’t life! That’s insane!” 
  • If you want to understand a society, take a good look at the drugs it uses. And what can this tell you about American culture? Well, look at the drugs we use. Except for pharmaceutical poison, there are essentially only two drugs that Western civilization tolerates: Caffeine from Monday to Friday to energize you enough to make you a productive member of society, and alcohol from Friday to Monday to keep you too stupid to figure out the prison that you are living in. 
Bill Hicks 

Humans are essentially social and symbolic animals, who need most of all connection, care and recognition of others, which implies that small acts of kindness, for example a smile or a gesture of recognition, are the building atoms for tiny feel good instants of everyday life. Feeling isolated and lonely is for most humans like taking the bullet train to a station called Depression. 

Coming back to the concept of “happiness”, whenever your read or hear about this word and about joy as well, remember the last sentence of the next quote: 
  • There are thousands of books on happiness, and most of them start by asking what happiness really is. As readers quickly learn, this is approximately equivalent to beginning a pilgrimage by marching directly into the first available tar pit, because happiness really is nothing more or less than a word that we word makers can use to indicate anything we please. 
Daniel Gilbert 
Stumbling on Happiness 

Let’s say that the word happiness is, as all other feeling concepts of the human species, a very extensible term that has vastly disparate meanings for different people. In general human mammals use this word for describing something that feels good to them, which can go from momentary to persistent, from peaceful to ecstatic to blissful and something in between or far above. They also use it in relation to an external event, for example in the meaning of a happy coincidence or a turn of fate (luck, happenstance) that promotes good feelings in life. In the former meaning the term happiness (joy) denotes an internally felt state, in the latter, however, an external favorable event. In any case the meaning of the word happiness isn’t fixed somewhere, it’s just a word we use to indicate to others that life is good, may be in this moment or in life in general, depending on our communicational context and our intentions. 

 Rule of thumb # 3 
  •  For a large class of cases of the employment of the word ‘meaning’—though not for all—this word can be explained in this way: the meaning of a word is its use in the language. 
L. Wittgenstein 
PI 43 

So it seems that the “meaning” of the word happiness is how we use and describe it in everyday language games. 

We celebrate life through happiness, through feeling good. We affirm what suits our needs. When we define something as beautiful or right, it ultimately means nothing more and nothing less than that it is the way we like it. 

With happiness, people might be talking about how they feel in the present moment, or they mean a more general sense of how they feel about life. Some people just use the word “happiness” as state of being where they are experiencing more positive emotions than negative ones. Because of this large semantic extension of “happiness”, psychologists and other mind interpreters prefer to use the term 'subjective well-being' when they talk about states of happiness. 

As happiness is a very personal feeling (as all feelings), here’s your task: 

 • What exactly means happiness for you? 
 • What kind of people (events, things) make you happy? 
 • What are you going to do with that knowledge? 

If you don’t know whether you are happy right now and what makes you happy, don’t worry, you are happy already – you only don’t know it! Just wait until the next tooth ache appears and you will realize that before the onset of this unimaginable pain you were perfectly happy, and now you only want the pain to disappear to be happy again, you only want to come back to that normal state of ordinary homeostasis!  

The surprising science of happiness - Dan Gilbert 

5 - When do we need joy/happiness? 

I say the more the better, but only in secure environments, because it makes you stupid! Happiness is not very helpful in dangerous situations or for solving the pressing problems of everyday life, like working in a job you don’t like, paying bills, dealing with an angry boss, etc. 

Psychology textbooks say that humans have a base line of feelings, that means we have a default mood for normal life events, which can go up (joy) or down (sadness) in relation to certain events, but after a while our feelings will come back to its default setting. 

Again, as with all the other feelings, joy and/or happiness is a very subjective affair, that means the same action or situation may make you happy and another one may feel sad. It depends how each of us interpretes the situation, and that again depends on a lot of other factors (genes, family influences, childhood traumas, social environment, consumption of drugs, etc.), which we don’t control and of which we are not even aware. 

Positive experiences as well as losses can shift your emotional base level, but even when you win big in the lottery of liife, sooner or later you tend to return to your individual emotional base line, that is your day to day mood, which may be somewhere on a spectrum from 0 to 10, like from desperate numbness to exuberant joie de vivre. 

However, with continuous and long-lasting influences, your individual emotional base line can change permanently. But to increase your base line mood, so that you feel more content and happy in life, will take time, energy, and some emotional work. Keep in mind also that the feeling of happiness cannot increase endlessly, since when you are too happy, you’re not aware of all the not so good things that may happen, and being too carefree definitely doesn’t help you in keeping up with your responsibilities in daily life. 

Rule of thumb # 4 

• Feelings of happiness have a natural ceiling or limit. 
Feelings of unhappiness can get from bad to worse to “there’s no bottom!” worst (and maybe ever further!). 

6– Evolutionary aspects 

The primer purpose or mission of your brain is to keep you alive, to help you survive in all kinds of environments and circunstances. That means that your brain is always scanning the environment for things that could endanger you in some way or another. And there are million ways of something might get wrong, but only a few ways that everything works perfectly as planned. Given these facts, joy and happiness are rare and time limited moments of life, since human mammals are programmed by evolution in such a way that they become more aware of what is not working, what is wrong, or the things they don’t like, because these so-called negative circumstances could endanger their survival, so they have to take care of them, contrary to what is right already, which doesn’t need any fixing. 

However, pleasant sensations ensure that all kinds of animals continue doing the things which help them to survive and reproduce: when thirsty, they search something to drink; when hungry, they look for something to eat; when they want a mini-me, they look out for moving bodies somehow resembling their own bodyshape, and preferably (but not always!) of their own species, etc. 

Being thirsty is a sensation that prompts us to drink something so that we feel better. Pleasant sensations say, acording to the not existing plan of evolution, that there is nothing to worry about, that we don’t need anything in the moment, and that there is no reason to do anything, just relax, take it easy and enjoy the present moment. 

Happy: Enjoying life in the here and now, celebrating it with your Higher self who appreciates the tiny things and fleeting moments, while dancing to the spirit of ethereal soundwaves. 

6.1 – Chemicals involved 

If we believe neuro-endocrinologists and similar scientists of our interior communication flows, then joy, happiness and all other feelings are chemically created in the still legal drug factory of our brains and bodies. The main drugs (hormons, neurotransmitters and endorphins) involved in our feelings of joy and/or happiness (and for love as well): Dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin and many others which scientists are still not very sure about. 

Neuroscientists also write and we know from experience that eating sweet food makes us fell good. In this case the brain releases the more dopamine the more calories we consume, especially if these calories come disguised in sweetness, like chocolate, ice-cream, cheese cake and other caloric tsunamis that induce us to eat more and more (even when not feeling hungry). 

By eating these “comfort foods” our primitive brain chills out and enjoys life. Again, it’s a short term happiness, the long term effects on the body are quite visible after a while and in the long run it has serious side effects. But then again, a lot of the things which will make you happy are illegal, forbidden, cost a lot of money or make you fat! 

Some chemical formulas of the CHNO product line inside your body that give you a boost of good feelings: 

Dopamine - C8 H11 N O2 

Serotonin - C10 H12 N2 O 

Oxytocine - C43 H66 N12 O12 S2 

Below some chemical formulas of CHNO products from outside of your body which may give you good and some even better feelings than your base line mood. Some of these products are legal, although they are bad for your health, while others are illegal. 

What is legal and illegal in one region and at one point in time isn’t illegal in another region or in the same country at another point in time, e.g. Laws of Prohibition during the beginning of the 20th century in the US. 

 • In general, the trap of all these products, legal or illegal, is that the stronger their mood improvement in the here and now, the greater the collateral damages in years to come! 

Sugar – Glucose - C6 H12 O6 Sucrose - C12 H22 O11 

Chocolate – C7 H8 N4 O2 

Cheesecake - depends on ingredients 

French fries – C3 H5 N O 

Cola extract - C30 H32 N8 O10 (Ingredient of Coca Cola)  

Alcohol –Ethanol C2 H5 O H 

Cannabis – C21 H30 O2 

Morphine – C17 H19 N O3 

Cocaine -   C17 H21 N O4 

LSD -         C20 H25 N3 O 

Remember, some 'things' are more efficient than others to transport you to a  more pleasant state of being, although not permanently:

For a rat in a box, chocolate increases the basal output of dopamine in the brain by 55 percent, sex by 100 percent, nicotine by 150 percent, and cocaine by 225 percent. Amphetamine, the active ingredient in the street drugs “speed,” “ice,” and “shabu” as well as in medications like Adderall that are used to treat attention deficit disorder, increases the release of dopamine by 1,000 percent. By this accounting, one hit off a meth pipe is equal to ten orgasms.
Anna Lembke
Dopamine Nation

7 – Happiness or Joy is useful for 
  • To enjoy life. 
  • To lknow whom or what you like most. 
  • To appreciate the here and now. 
  • To take things with a pincel of lightness. 
  • To know what you like and what makes u happy (careful, what makes u happy now, doesn’t mean it will make u happy tomorrow!) 
  • To know who you are and what defines u. 
  • To find your path of least frustration in life and to follow it. 
  • To maintain and enjoy relationships. 
  • To have inner peace for a short while. 
  • To be oblivious of the problems in your life. 
  • To be oblivious of the problems of other people. 
  • To be oblivious to the “serious” problems of the environment you inhabit. 
  • To get addicted to that feeling and trying to push it with the help of some chemical friends (artificial mood boosters). 
  • To search for happiness all the time and forgetting that happiness most of the time just happens. That’s why it’s called “happy-ness”. Search for it and you’ve lost it already. 
  • Others: … 


 • The most important “things” in life are not “things”. 

Rule of thumb # 5 
  • Happy moments can turn into pain, given time. 
Matt Haig 
The Midnight Library 

8 – Forms of happiness

Psychologists differentiate (some get paid for this!) between eudaimonic happiness which they connect to a sense of purpose or a meaning in life, and on the other side what they label as hedonic wellbeing or happiness, which we put in action every day when we buy something with the aim of “self-gratificaction” (from chocolate, pizza, oreo buiscuits to a new car and more expensive still). 

For most authors happiness includes different emotions which make us feel content in the moment or also more general in life. So happiness may include emotions of amusement, contentment, serenity, pride, optimism, love, excitement, gratitude, awe, and some more. That looks fine and neat on paper, but you have to identify what your feeling feels like and you have to label these feelings, which in reality is somehow more difficult than explained in theory with lineal words on all too patient paper. 

Still other psychologists write that happiness has different levels, which go from immediate gratifications (think ice-cream), to passion (think your hobby), to purpose (think serving others), up to the ultimate good ( = think of nothing in particular and of the void in general!), a concept invented in Ancient Athens by Plato 2400 years ago. 

Another important aspect of happiness is, mostly written about it in the media, that happy people have fuller hair, better teeth, healthier pets, they earn more money, live longer, have a bigger house and all the good things nice, beautiful and honest people tend to have (in all the movies of Bolly-, Holly-, Lolly- and Nollywood). 

But then again, other stories and researches just say the contrary: the so called successful people aren’t happier than the ones labelled as losers. Happy to read that, since I’m not all too sure to which category I belong! 

To find out what makes other people happy, just look and watch real people in action, see life unfolding before your eyes, watch kids playing and talk to the rich and the poor. Have a look at the statisics: Depression and suicide rates, drug consumption, etc. 

But then again, what seem to make others happy, doesn’t mean it will make you happy as well. So you have to find out for yourself! 

Whenever you read about all the benefits of happiness, organic food and a healthy lifestyle, and also about the dangers of consciouness altering liquids for your body-mind unit, reflect on what the French Renaissance writer Francois Rabelais wrote already in the 16th century: 

  • There are more old drunkards than old physicians. 

Temporary conclusion: 
  • There are a dozen of things, people and situations that can make you happy, and a zillionfold more which can make you unhappy. So choose well!

That question that you ask yourself without answering 
Inside you is the answer to know 
You are the one who decides the path to choose 
There are many good and bad things, choose well 
That your future is formed based on decisions 
And we want to make you happy with this song 

 And there you are, you 
 And there you are, you 

 Some more useless advice: 

1 – Don’t compare yourself and your (un)happiness to others! What makes somebody else happy doesn’t mean it will make you happy. 

2 – Figure out what you enjoy in your life, like events, moments, actions and people. That may take time. In general, the first hundred years are the most difficult, but don’t despair, afterwards it will get easier.  

 Since this video is not available outside of its original platform, here the link for watching it in youtube:

If and when you watch this video, you can observe and learn how our thoughts influence our motor skills and at the same time you see a master of reframing and changing the state of mind of another person: 

First situation, near the door: she wants to quit and is already at the door when he asks: “Is it any fun?” 
 “I wanted it to be!” and she comes back … 

Last situation, rehearsing a tune together: she’s nervous and not in her highest state of internal resources, so he asks some questions which change her mindset from trying too hard consciously to a flow state of mind where she doesn’t think of her action anymore and thinks of something beautiful instead. 

The unfolding process of changing her internal resources from negative to positive goes like this: 
“When you look at the mirror, what do you like best about yourself?” 
“My hair!” 
“Because my father says it reminds him of a sunset.” 
“Play the sunset.” … 

9 - Shadow side of happiness or joy 

In its shadowy expression, joy is self-deception and self-slander. The famous rose-colored glasses lull us into honey-sweet illusions. We imagine we are on pink clouds when actually nothing is beautiful or even right. Here joy becomes a cloak for everything we don't want to see. 

Since anger and criticism have a bad image in nearly all cultures, many people have developed the habit of interpreting things as correct and good which actually are neither. To really lead an authentic life we have to accept our feelings as they come, the happy ones and the sad ones too. We appreciate the sunny weather much more because sometimes it rains and it’s cold. And nature and life in general need all kind of weathers and we need all our feelings to stumble and float through life. 

But still, if we lack happy moments in our life, if we all too seldom interpret “that is right” or “that is beautiful”, life will be almost unbearable. We become disgruntled, lousy, complaining spirits who are a burden for themselves and others. 

10 – How to increase your joy meter

The happiness and joy advice industry is big business, especially in the USA and Western Europe, where people have one of the highest standards of living in the whole world and in all human history. Despite that, depression, legal and illegal drug consumption and suicide rates are also one of the highest in these so called developped countries. It seems that all the books, videos, workshops and talks about happiness only show that there is no much happiness or joy around. Just try to find somebody today with the real, innate or acquired “joie de vivre”. 

Despite all that, here are some rules of thumb for increasing your joy or happiness meter: 

  • First you have to identify what you really like and love in your life, something that gives some meaning to your experience. 
  • Don’t read so many books (I’m talking to myself here), real joy is something you don't know until you've experienced it. Or as somebody said: 
 “Knowledge is learning something everyday. 
Wisdom is letting go of something everyday.” 
  • Lower your expectations in relation to what should happen and what not. When your expactations match or are exceeded by reality, then you may feel happy. 
  • Do things you like doing and which, once finished, leave you in a better and more energetic emotional state than before. 
  • Keep and maintain social contacts with friends, family and other people. Social relations are good for your body and mind, they keep you (nearly) sane (depends heavily on the kind of people you relate to! There are always some people you should avoid!). 
  • Move closer to your work: Studies show that people suffer when they have to commute long distances every day and waste time in traffic jams. 
  • Do something with your body, for example, cook for others, take a walk, exercise, clean the garage, work in the garden, hug somebody you like or love and more, etc. Your body needs movement and the more physical energy you spend the more the brain releases dopamine and you will feel happy. If you don’t feel happy against all odds, at least you will feel tired which makes for a good nights sleep! 
  • Try to maximize moments of the so-called flow: These are moments in which you completely forget time and space around you and get absorbed in what you are doing at that exact moment. Many experience this feeling of happiness while doing something they love to do, they have freely chosen and they are completely immersed in the experience! 
  • New situations and experiences: In general, humans get used to new objects very quickly. So instead of buying an expensive smartphone (a good show-off gadget), an expedition to the outer provinces of the Universe or a painting course can be more stimulating and satisfying for yourself. 
  • Reframe negative thoughts, that means, change your perspective. For example, instead of thinking that you lost all your money in a bad investment, you can be happy that you don’t have to worry anymore of how to spend this money. That saves a lot of time and energy! 
  •  If you like music, just listen to the sounds that improve your mood. There should be zillions of audible airwaves around, and some are just right for you. 
  •  Comparisons: Although for you it seems impossible for you and me (and it surely is!), but there will be always somebody younger, more beautiful or handsome, richer, more creative, etc than you and me. Comparing yourself to other people wont boost much your happiness level, so surfing facebook and other social media platforms aren’t really good for being satisfied with your life, since somehow in social media it looks like that everybody lives in a big mansion with swimming pool in the most expansive avenues of Hollywood, except you and me! 
  • To have a look and taste for the all so obvious absurdities of life is a good source for humor and laughter which will make you feel lighter in a flash. Laughter moves a lot of face muscles and increases the dopamin level as well (or so some scientists say!). 
  • Keep a gratitude diary: before going to sleep write down all the things you can be grateful for, like for life in general and the tiny little things from today in particular. Keep writing everyday and one day in a week you read all the entrances again. It makes you aware of the ephemeral beauty which is all around you. Just look at it and appreciate what you see, becaus where you put your attention, there is your life! And sometimes when you are in a certain situation, your perspective shifts and a magic moment happens, where you see something with a different mindset, as beauty is an interpretation of your mind, and not what your eyes see. 
  •  As we carry her back to the gurney she is calm, no longer shaking, and she grips my arm tightly as the others dress her. ‘Merci!’, she says. She pulls me close and smiles. ‘Merci!’ Her eyes are pale grey. Before I saw only the ugliness of age: wrinkles, fat, wasting muscles, dwindling limbs. Now I see kindness, love, laughter, and I’m struck by her beauty. I wonder who she is, what she has done in her life, who she has known. What it’s like to be so close to death. 
Jo Marchant 

  • Physical exercise every day is ideal for the release of endorphins from your brain, which will make you feel happier than before. The first day is difficult, but if you stay with doing the exercises every and each day during one to two months it will become a habit and then you can’t stop anymore. Start slowly or join a group of people. 
  • Do a Good Deed. When you do something nice for someone else, you feel joyful because you helped someone and that shows you’re a good person. And in general you feel good when your actions in the outside world matches up to your imagined “ideal” of yourself. There is no “cognitive dissonance” anymore. 
  • To resume: Think about the things, situations and people that make you feel happy every day, and try to do them or hang out around them. Think about what made you happy as a kid! 
  • Others for you: 

Most common and mainstream pitfalls while searching desperately for happiness:

  • For those that don’t know, a human is a real bipedal lifeform of mid-range intelligence, living a largely deluded existence on a small water-logged planet in a very lonely corner of the universe. … 
  •  Oh, and let’s not forget The Things They Do To Make Themselves Happy That Actually Make Them Miserable. This is an infinite list. It includes – shopping, watching TV, taking the better job, getting the bigger house, writing a semi-autobiographical novel, educating their young, making their skin look mildly less old, and harbouring a vague desire to believe there might be a meaning to it all. 
  •  Yes, it is all very amusing, in a painful kind of way. 
Matt Haig 
The Humans

But anything they made you dream of
And all the things they made you buy
The whole business with our happiness 
is nothing but a lie
But where do I get, tell me where do I get
What i really need
But where do I get, tell me where do I get
What i really need

Q+A  section: Money can make you happy or not?
  • Some say that money doesn’t make you happy. 
  • Others say that money doesn’t make you happy, but it helps. 
  • Still others suggest that if money doesn’t make you happy, then you probably aren’t spending it right. 

Personal comment: 

In case you are confused and don’t know what’s true for you in relation to money, try to live a week without money in any of the big cities of this world! Good luck! But remember to choose a country where it’s not too cold at night! 

The biggest roadblock to happiness seems to be being trapped, that means being in a situation you don’t want to be in, but there doesn’t seem to be a way out. So avoid being trapped by something or somebody at all costs, and avoid it where and when you can, since it's not a comfortable place to be, as any tiger caged in a zoo might tell you.

Here’s the advice of a more or less trapped mother to her daughter:
  •  After my father passed away, my mother was left to raise three children and spent years simply trying to get by….
  •  My mother understood first-hand how horrible it feels when you’re trapped by your circumstances, basing each decision on what you have to do instead of what you want to do, and she wanted to protect me from such a fate. ‘You always need to have just enough money to say, “Screw you!”’ she advised. That way, I would never have to stay in a job I hated or in a relationship that wasn’t working for me because I didn’t have the financial resources to make a move. 
Susan David 
Emotional Agility 

What also may make some or a lot of us happy but we shouldn’t show it all too obviously

 • Gossip: Talking about others can make you feel better (especially if you find something to criticize!). 

 • Schadenfreude: being happy when somebody more intelligent and beautiful or handsome has bad luck in one or different of her/his actions. From the German language: Schaden (harm) and Freude (joy), which translates as the joy you feel of the bad luck or damage of somebody else. But you feel that way only if the other person has a higher status than you and/or is well known to you or the general public. 

 • Buying luxury goods: Still, an expensive item which is clearly visible and you can carry it around or it carries you around (Rolex, iphone, designer clothes, Ferrari) is a perfect legal way to make others envious, which is one of the hidden pleasures of buying expensive and useless stuff. The same goes for travelling to exotic places, where you get bitten by a zillion mosquitos, but you show your friends in Facebook, Instagram, Snapshot, and all other social media platforms that this vacacion was the best and most wonderful in all your life! That others envy you means that you are very rich or powerful or important! There’s pleasure and happiness in that too! 

 • Doing things which are dangerous and/or forbidden, like parachuting, winggliding, driving too fast, climbing skyscrapers, etc. 

 • Giving orders to others, and knowing that they will obey you. Again, this shows that you are an important and powerful animal of the human species. It seems one of the biggest pleasures for human mammals, sonce nearly everybody tries to become a “leader”, but only a few succed. 

 • Others things u can do or have which may make you happy (write your personal choices): 

11 – Two examples of joy or happiness in literature and/or real life 

  • Although Bertha Young was thirty she still had moments like this when she wanted to run instead of walk, to take dancing steps on and off the pavement, to bowl a hoop, to throw something up in the air and catch it again, or to stand still and laugh at—nothing—at nothing, simply. What can you do if you are thirty and, turning the corner of your own street, you are overcome, suddenly, by a feeling of bliss—absolute bliss!—as though you’d suddenly swallowed a bright piece of that late afternoon sun and it burned in your bosom, sending out a little shower of sparks into every particle, into every finger and toe? Oh, is there no way you can express it without being “drunk and disorderly”? How idiotic civilization is! Why be given a body if you have to keep it shut up in a case like a rare, rare fiddle? 
Katherine Mansfield 
Bliss, and other stories 

  • Just now (but this cannot last, she thought, dissociating herself from the moment while they were all talking about boots) just now she had reached security; she hovered like a hawk suspended; like a flag floated in an element of joy which filled every nerve of her body fully and sweetly, not noisily, solemnly rather, for it arose, she thought, looking at them all eating there, from husband and children and friends; all of which rising in this profound stillness (she was helping William Bankes to one very small piece more, and peered into the depths of the earthenware pot) seemed now for no special reason to stay there like a smoke, like a fume rising upwards, holding them safe together. Nothing need be said; nothing could be said. There it was, all round them. 
Virginia Woolf 
To the Lighthouse 

12 - Coda 
  • Interpretation: That is correct. I like that. I want this moment to last forever. 
  • Mission: Appreciation in the here and now. 
  • Shadow: illusion, denial.
  • Goal: Nirvana, Doksha, Bliss, ... 
  • Energy level: high 

What they sing, “C’est la vie” is not at all the totality of life, it’s just a small and fleeting part of it, and, as you can observe in the clip, being young, healthy and beautiful helps a lot in connecting, singing, flirting and dancing with others. 

Enjoy it while you can, since it will pass by very fast and it will end always much too early: C’est la vie! The passing of happy moments leaves an immense narcistic wound, which impulses us to ask: 
What was that? 
When was it? 
Will it come again? 
If so, when?

PS:  How to simplify life

4 - Emotions 1

1.1 – Visual example of how emotions are evoked   First test: If you don’t sense or feel anything moving in your body-mind unit after having...