Happiness and Life

         No matter how far down we are in the doldrums, we inevitably find ourselves back on the path to the pursuit of happiness. Most of what we experience includes all sorts of emotions that evoke either bliss or misery. One doesn’t have to be the richest person in the world to garner all the positive feelings possible because money, for the most part, can’t buy happiness; but where one has been and where one envisions going can play a major part in salvaging any type of happiness. That is, happiness is relative; there’s no absolute equation for creating feelings of jubilation. We all seek happiness in every endeavor. Whether consciously or unconsciously, rapture leads to a better society. Utilitarianism, presented by John Stuart Mill, argues that happiness is the backbone of a morally righteous civilization insofar that it motivates us to seek pleasure over pain. But in my estimation, adversity has a profound effect on how we recover and put a perspective on happiness. Biologically, happiness is certain chemicals released in your brain and those feelings may be expedited by sufficient rest and exercise. As 50 Cent puts it, “Joy wouldn’t feel so good if it wasn’t for pain,” and I think a little grief can make us stronger to face upheavals, but ultimately, leads us to a greater understanding about what we have and to be grateful for the things others may not ever possess.

          We are invariably unfocused on the actual present moment, fretting about what’s to come. Being mindful of what’s happening brings a sense of ease that begets an appreciation of what you have. Worrying about things too much only creates a life that will never be fulfilled, and unfortunately, a life that speeds by without ever noticing what happened; incessantly asking yourself, “Where’d time go?” That being said, experiences are crucial; we learn about ourselves and develop memories that guide us to better feelings. For example, a person in a barbaric tribe with no access to electronics or electricity may be more satisfied than, say, a person who has technology at his behest 24/7. All this connectivity we’re thrown into the fray with now only gives rise to more problems and discontent. Less is more and those primitive people are fully conscious of what they possess, thus they don’t seem to ruminate as frequently as we do in the First World. Happiness is the result of the realization of where one’s been and where one is now; you create your own happiness. Perspectives vary. Imagine a zombie apocalypse has transpired. Being a survivor, you’d suddenly find happiness in ways you’d never thought were possible; perhaps finding other humans who also survived and were thinking of innovative ways to cook foods that you wouldn’t normally eat. Then your happiness simply shifts from what it once was, pre-apocalypse.

          In general, money doesn’t buy happiness. Actually, it plateaus after a certain amount (an income of $75k/year). Of course it’s better to be wealthy than to be impoverished, and money may indeed amplify happiness for a materialistic person, but that sort of contentment is superficial. That’s not to say we should not strive for affluence and success. But, happiness is the secret to success, not vice versa. Implementing meaning & purpose in your life gives you something to wake up for every single day. In Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, he eloquently states, “the satiation level beyond which experienced well-being no longer increases was a household income of about $75,000 in high-cost areas. The average increase of experienced well-being associated with incomes beyond that level was precisely zero . . . A plausible interpretation is that higher income is associated with a reduced ability to enjoy the small pleasures in life.“ Many Lotto winners aren’t happier than people who lose on every ticket because of the hedonic treadmill, where as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise in unison, which results in no permanent gain in happiness; you adapt to what you have then you’ll want more. I believe happiness is transient and can come and go so expeditiously it’s hard to put a yardstick on it. Anybody who’s read or seen The Great Gatsby knows there’s a multitude of themes about how money doesn’t influence things such as love and loneliness, at least overtly.

        Renown theoretical physicist & cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, who was left paralyzed by a motor neuron disease at the age of 21, claims to be happier now (while debilitated) than when he was perfectly healthy. He declares, “it taught me not to pity myself because others were worse off, and to get on with what I could still do.” which gives credence to the fact that people acclimate and turn their dials toward happiness no matter how unfortunate the situation may be, naturally; and plenty of handicap people are just as, or even more happy than a normal salubrious person. Everyone has an equal chance to make the best of the position they’re in.

          To overcome the obstacle of unhappiness, we must flood our minds with what’s going on and how it could be much worse. Doing what you love and sharing experiences with people who have the same even temperament as yourself will only lead to euphoric feelings. Overusing hyperbole to describe unfortunate events doesn’t bring solace to one’s well-being. Brushing yourself off and trying again is a proper axiom to live by, and noticing your shortcomings and consolidating your emotions for the betterment as a person will only show you the way to a more respectable lifestyle. Through mindful meditation, you grant yourself serenity by inspecting the present-moment at its roots. This practice has been linked to increasing happiness and decreasing stress; it’s the brain’s way of unwinding. It’s also been proven that giving is better than receiving; i.e., more dopamine is released when bestowing something on someone rather than receiving something. In conclusion, we don’t live long enough to constantly be envious and unsure about what’s to come. However you devise your happiness, just remember: it creates a better planet. Stop worrying,  go out there, and do what makes you happy, because it’s within our control.

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4 Ways To Enjoy Valentine’s Day Single

The covetous Valentine’s Day has served as a staple for affection with your partner for many years. To those who can’t attest to this hallmark holiday, you may find solace in different ways than others. Here’s 4 ideas to conquer this year’s Valentine’s Day as a single person…

 

1. Go Party

Fortunately, this year’s Valentine’s Day lands on a desirable Saturday. So, gather some friends  and tie one on for the night; you’ll instantly bond with your family or peers in a calming environment that’ll defuse any stress you’ve accumulated entering the night. Cool out and enjoy yourself by basking in the rarefied air of singledom.

2. Surprise Someone

Whether it’s a family member, friend, or a person you’ve been recently pitching woo at —surprise them with a gift. The gift doesn’t have to be extravagant, just something that’ll subtly get the point across; preferably being a card or candy. Any platonic relationship you have with a person over many years would be a delightful bolt from the blue for their well-being. Sweeping someone off their feet never hurt anybody, but does leave a lasting impact on their appreciation of you in their life.

3. Exercise

Exercise is a boon on any day, this day should not be any different. You can channel some of your tempestuous emotions into a form of working out. By freeing your mind of unnecessary ruminations all day, you’ll unquestionably grow a little more confident by the mere fact that you’ve done some self-reform!

4. Disconnect

Unplug yourself from social media for the day. The breath of fresh air that you will endure is ineffable. Of course, seeing all the lovely gifts everybody receives on Facebook and Instagram can be endearing, but unfortunately, it can also naturally evoke envy. Many of the enviable presents that males or females bestow upon one another will be illuminated on Valentine’s day, thus engendering a sense of uncertainty about where you are in your path to love. Why not nip this in the bud & avoid all the frenzy?

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The Ultimate Duel: Dexter Morgan vs. Walter White

          Having just finished “Dexter,” I think the show is an instant favorite; it runs the gamut of entertainment and suspense. Michael C. Hall, who plays the character Dexter, is tailor made for the enigmatic, sinister role. On the other hand, “Breaking Bad’s” Walter White—played by the brilliant Bryan Cranston—seems to be in the same echelon as Dexter in terms of brilliance and canniness. Both actors are remarkable in their depiction of unpredictable specimens who seem wholly concerned with themselves. This extreme amount of egocentricity and self-aggrandizement is why shows like “Dexter” and “Breaking Bad” have been wildly successful by keeping audiences engrossed through their elaborate plots. These two masterminds have their strengths and weaknesses, but if the two faced off given a fixed circumstance, it would be interesting to see who comes out on top. Here’s the objective: Each assailant has a week to prepare using whatever resources he can marshal, then he must kill the other person. The mental and physical status will be mid-series form (Season 3 for Walt, season 4 for Dexter.) Here’s how I think it plays out…

          Dexter catches wind of Walt’s mischievous behavior and immoral doings by using his department’s resources and understands that Walt perfectly matches Harry’s code. Dexter begins to stealthily hunt behind his chameleon-like guise. Walt, conversely, has a keen intuition that he’s being followed and notices Dexter’s car has been lingering by his house for the past two nights. By becoming cognizant of Dexter’s vigilance, Walt decides to plan a sneak attack by manipulating Skyler into thinking Dexter is actually a henchman working for Gus, who has interest in causing strife to the family. When Skyler approaches Dexter’s vehicle as a diversion, Walt surprises Dexter with a gun at close range, leaving Dexter flabbergasted. Walt gets in the car and tells Dexter to drive, with the roscoe still pointed at his head. Unbeknownst to Walt, Dexter has an M-99 syringe in his cup holder; he uses his supreme hand-to-hand combat skills to knock the gun away, then swiftly injects the Etorphine in the syringe into Walt’s neck.

         Walt—drowsy from the analgesic—comes to, only to realize he is lying on the dishonorable table, wrapped in plastic. But, oddly enough, Walt is extremely poised, as if he’s been through this before. He and Dexter begin to bicker and reprimand each other about how they’re both doing equally bad and unpardonable things. Walt’s persistence and sincerity begins to befuddle Dexter. Walt then begins to launch into a diatribe about Dexter’s sister, Debra. He tells him, “Are you willing to kill the man who holds the key to your sister’s life?” Dexter, taking Walt’s word with only a grain of salt, suddenly pulls out his blade and slowly incisions Walt’s facial epidermal layers as he’s done to all of his previous victims. Dexter profoundly states, “Any scum who poisons little kids (Brock) doesn’t deserve to exist on this planet.”

          Then Dexter, hysterical with laughter, grabs a meat cleaver and says, “It’s time to accelerate your death process” while Walt smiles, then he cocks back and gashes Walt’s neck. But, surprisingly, immediately after Dexter ends Walt’s life, a phone begins ringing beneath Walt’s corpse. Dexter, extremely perturbed, answers and hears Debra shout, “I don’t want to die!”after which Dexter hears a faint ticking sound, which leads to a loud explosion. Dexter screams, “NOOO…” and slowly plays out the scenario in his head, only to glean that Walt had calibrated a bomb to go off when his heart stopped beating. Dexter, overwrought by his sister’s death, is unthinkably shaken up. In the final scene, as the camera pans out from Debra’s grave, Dexter’s voiceover says: “The life not worth taking.”

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Sleep Is Everything

For about one-third of our lives, we are lost in the sea of oblivion. Sleep is one of the most fundamental features of human nature. Nowadays, it seems as if we intentionally deprive ourselves of it; whether it is from an unrelenting work habit, cellphone addiction, partying too much, disorders, or a bad sleeping environment, we are always at the mercy of our brain and how much rest it actually gets. You can mask your exhaustion through energy drinks and such, but the truth is: we all incur a sleep debt, and this debt has to be amortized in some sort of effective way or else we pay the price of being eternally fatigued and worn-down. Adequate sleep qualities can lead to a healthier life. In modern society, sleep studies are being conducted every day; long-term and short-term studies are orchestrated to determine how sleep affects our lives and how it can be deleterious to our wellbeing, granted being devoid of it. The five stages of sleep contribute to the sufficient restoration of not only our physical body, but our cognitive faculties.

For the past month, I have been dutifully using the sleep-cycle application, which monitors sleep phases and duration, in order to wake you at the appropriate time at which you are not groggy. My average night’s sleep is a morbid 5 hours and 54 minutes a night. However, my sleep is entirely reliant on everything I have done in the day, leading up to the night’s rest. If I had an early-evening coffee or decide to partake in a later-than-usual (9pm) workout, then I will find myself wallowing in bed for numerous hours, beset by the unending thought of wondering why I can’t fall asleep. My haphazard schedule of sleep has affected me in many different ways. Any night when I do not reach the optimal amount of sleep (7-8 hours) for a person in my age bracket, I automatically pay the piper. For instance, when I get less than 5 hours of sleep, I feel disoriented and less sharp. Here’s the caveat: ironically, I’m typing this on 4 hours of sleep, so my exposition may be less transparent. Everything is fleeting; my memory is like a perforated plastic bag full of water, leaking out all of the essential things I took heed of the prior day. Also, my weight fluctuation seems to tip the scales more than usual with a precarious appetite, leading me to crave high-calorie foods. However, the nights when I get the ideal amount of slumber, I feel ebullient; my brain is fast-witted, and my weight is stabilized and properly managed. Now that I’ve learned that satisfactory sleep can reverse the effects of aging, I am painstakingly aware of how many hours I obtain a night because we all want to look younger.

The vaunted rapid eye movement (REM) sleep can be disrupted by drinking alcohol. After a night of imbibing excessively, you will ineluctably be beleaguered by lethargy and laziness. This empty feeling that we have all been victims of, puts our bodies and minds in a state of fluster. REM, the most restorative stage in sleep, is thrown off-kilter and reduced because of the body’s way to combat the effects of alcohol leading to a light-sleep repose, in which you are easily awakened. When a person is constantly overwhelmed by unsound sleep, this creates other effects. These effects include: gravitation towards unhealthy foods, lack of motor skills, attention deficit, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, weakened immune system, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc.

The distractions that we battle everyday flies in the face of proper somnolence. All of the artificial light and gadgets that stand in the way of bedtime are arm-wrestling with 100,000 years of evolution. Our circadian rhythm, a process that regulates our sleep-wake cycles in respect to a 24-hour interval, has been tampered with by the new technologies and varying work hours. Melatonin, a hormone in the pineal gland that is responsible for determining the times to sleep and wake, has been inhibited by all of the aforementioned interruptions. No matter how many coffees and Red Bulls we drink, nature has a way of telling us that we need time to unwind before something unpleasant happens. Thousands of car accidents a year are due to sleep deprivation; this is something that can be easily avoided with a routine sleep schedule. Sleep–as we know it–essentially discards the unnecessary information and keeps the important lessons we’ve gained from the preceding day. Even a 15-30 minute nap can provide you with more alertness. In the book Dreamland by David K. Randall, he writes, “Naps are even being used to provide a competitive advantage in the workplace. Companies such as Google, Nike, Procter & Gamble, and Cisco Systems have installed designated napping areas in their offices. The idea is that naps may allow engineers and designers to arrive at creative solutions more quickly than they would by staying awake all day.” People who remain faithful to a regimented sleep agenda tend to live longer than those who do not. Sleep itself is basic; try not to get caught up in all of the hoopla before your bedtime. Overtime, you will slowly notice your body going in the direction that you desire.

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