Putting more excitement in your life.

The excitement of life.

Excitement.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

What makes your life exciting?

Excitements can contribute a lot to the quality of your life. By excitements here we are not talking about the kind of excitement you might experience watching a close sporting event where what someone else is doing excites you. What I mean by excitement are those times in your life where what you’re doing excites you and you become fully absorbed in the activity. When what you’re doing excites you, time passes before you know it.

Excitement is not the same thing as pleasure. Though experiencing excitement can bring you a great deal of pleasure. Pleasures are consumption, whereas excitements are creation. Creating these excitements is engaging and requires an investment of your time and energy.

The exciting life grows out of a life which is based on meaning and purpose. If you find your meaning in life, find that your life has a purpose, getting up every day can be a joy.

Some psychologists describe engagement as flow.

Flow is that state in which you lose all sense of time. Someone who loves to play music will sit down to practice a piece only to realize that hours have passed. Have you ever engaged in an activity you were so into, that it seemed as if hours had passed in minutes? That’s the state of flow.

What makes a task exciting and creates flow?

Researchers have discovered specific characteristics of activities that create flow when matched with people who were into those activities. If you can design activities that take you into this state, the time you put in will always feel too short. People who regularly engage in activities that create the flow state describe their lives as full of meaning and purpose.

It requires skill and is challenging.

To routine, an activity can become dull over time. An activity that is challenging and requires you to develop ever-increasing skill can quickly put you into the flow state. This activity should not be beyond your abilities but only at the edge or limit of them. Many people rapidly reached the state of flow when playing video games and can become so engaged in them that they lose all sense of time and forget other activities.

When you concentrate you enter a flow state.

While easy tasks may be enjoyable, maintaining a state in which you are excited in a pleasant way requires that the task be challenging enough that you need to concentrate. The more you focus on this preferred task the more the rest of the world seems to disappear.

Tasks with clear goals are more enjoyable.

The more well-defined the goals the more likely you are to feel enjoyment as you accomplish them. This is one reason why video game players become so engrossed in the game. As they play the game, they are able to achieve increasingly difficult goals. Each time they reach a goal the activity there engaging in is reinforced.

Challenging activities provide immediate feedback.

While there are few people who can work for years on a project not knowing if it will be successful, most people are much more motivated when the task before them provides immediate feedback. When the task is set just a little harder in the last thing you’ve accomplished there’s an incentive to continue to learn and practice. The more immediate feedback the more likely you are to continue with that activity.

Exciting, flow state activities provide deep, effortless involvement.

What you get into the activity you get carried along. Your concentration improves as you become more and more focused on the activity. Seems an amazingly simple solution that many people who say they suffer from ADHD find no difficulty in continuing to pay attention to and engaging tasks such as video gaming or a sports activity.

Challenging experiences should include a sense of control.

When an activity feels out of your control when no matter what you do results seem to be dictated by someone else it rapidly moves from being enjoyable to being unpleasant. If you want to achieve that ultimate feeling of engagement look for opportunities to challenge yourself.

Our sense of self vanishes.

When you get really into any activity you lose yourself in what you are doing. As you move along in this exciting and enjoyable activity is stopped being self-conscious or worrying about what others think about what you’re doing. You continue the activity for the pure pleasure of accomplishment.

Time stops when you’re in a flow state.

Once you find an activity that really engages you and provides this level of excitement and passion there never seems to be enough time to engage in this activity. Hours can pass in what seems like only minutes. When you have to stop you feel like you have just barely begun.

I know I’ve interchanged some terminology here. But I’ve come to believe that happiness involves a lot more than not being depressed. I genuinely happy life reaches far beyond temporary bursts of pleasure. Engagement or flow is one of those ways that people reach genuine happiness.

Have you found something which adds excitement to your life? Is your life full of meaning and purpose? How would your life be different if you found your passion?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now! And more are on the way.

For these and my upcoming books, please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

The Paradox of Pleasure.

Pleasure. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

What’s the connection between pleasure and happiness?

Wikipedia defines pleasure as “a mental experience that humans and other conscious animals find enjoyable, positive, or worthy of seeking. It can be a part of other mental states such as happiness, entertainment, enjoyment, ecstasy, and euphoria.” While pleasure is undoubtedly a part of happiness, it’s not the whole thing.

Positive psychology, a relatively new branch of mental health, tells us that being mentally healthy, having a good life is more than merely a lack of mental illness. If you have a mental illness such as depression or anxiety, it needs to be treated. But the elimination of a mental illness doesn’t equate with a life of fulfillment. How do you move from not being depressed to a life full of joy, happiness, contentment, meaning, and purpose? How far along that path will pleasure take you?

When most people think of happiness, they think of pleasure.

Pleasure is unquestionably a part of having a happy life, but it’s not the only part. A genuinely happy life, a life in which people are flourishing and finding meaning and purpose, needs a lot more than just pleasure. While pleasure may take you part of the way to the good life, it doesn’t take you all the way. Let’s look at how pleasure starts you out in the right direction but can get you stuck on the thing we call the hedonic treadmill.

Sometimes pleasure leads to happiness but not always.

The brain craves pleasure. Pleasure is our nervous system’s way of rewarding us for doing things that might benefit us. In small quantities, pleasure can increase your happiness. Pleasures produce the most happiness when they are unexpected. But too much of a good thing, especially on a regular basis, can be bad for you. The human brain is biased towards novel pleasures. So, each successive dose of a particular pleasure adds smaller and smaller amounts to happiness. The first slice of chocolate cake tastes good. Eating the second chocolate cake can impair your health. Eventually, most pleasures turn on you.

Pleasure wears off quickly, and this can lead to an addiction.

In psychology, this phenomenon is called habituation. The first drink can be enjoyable, but subsequent drinks each produce less pleasure. Each subsequent drink creates less subjective pleasure. When the pleasure fades, this can lead to cravings for more. Farther down the road, people find themselves drinking, using drugs, or engaging in behavioral addictions, not for the pleasure it brings them, but to prevent the cravings that come with withdrawal.

Pleasure must be taken in slowly.

Trying to maximize your happiness by consuming pleasure too quickly doesn’t work. You can’t see much of the scenery when you’re driving 100 miles an hour. Taking in pleasure slowly is a technique sometimes called savoring. In our fast-paced society, people are prone to suck in the pleasure as rapidly as possible and then move on to the next pleasurable event. This frantic search for pleasure results in absorbing very little of the pleasure from the things you do.

You can’t enjoy the taste of food when you swallow it whole.

The human brain seems to be biased to remember negative things. The threat circuits in our brain stem warn us of danger. Positive experiences, on the other hand, require effort to recognize. Modern life is moving at a pace that can be overwhelming. If you want more happiness in your life, you need to become a happiness expert. When positive events happen, we need to slow down and savor them. In this era of fast food and instant gratification savoring life’s positive experiences is becoming a lost art.

Throughout this year want to bring you some additional information about the elements of a good life and how to create a life full of joy, meaning, and purpose. If you have found ways to create a life that is flourishing, please share them by leaving a comment in the box below.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Pleasure.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Pleasure

Pleasure.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

“To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

“Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.”

― C.S. Lewis

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. There are an estimated 100,000 words in the English language that are feelings related. Some emotions are pleasant, and some are unpleasant, but all feelings can provide useful information. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Cheerful.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Cheerful picture.

Cheerful.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Cheerfulness.

Mirth, and even cheerfulness, when employed as remedies in low spirits, are like hot water to a frozen limb.

– Benjamin Rush

Cheerfulness, it would appear, is a matter which depends fully as much on the state of things within, as on the state of things without and around us.

– Charlotte Bronte

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer someone else up.”

–  Mark Twain

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Joy.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Joy

Joy.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Joy.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

― Dr. Seuss

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”

― Mark Twain

“A flower blossoms for its own joy.”

― Oscar Wilde

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Feeding Your Happiness Diet

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Happiness Diet

Happiness Diet
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Are you ready for a high-happiness diet?

This time of year resolutions is almost gone. The plans to diet, exercise, and self-improve are almost out of season now. Did you start out saying this was the year you went on a high happiness diet? How are you doing on creating that happy life? Many of the same things that make diets successful will make that happy life project work better also.

Make room for healthy, happy experiences but cutting out the junk stuff.

Cutting out junk food will improve your physical health. What are the junk things you are doing that are keeping you unhappy? Are there activities or people that you need to get out of your life to create a happier you?

If you don’t clean out the garbage in your house your living space becomes unhealthy. There are probably things in all our emotional lives that need tossing out. Get rid of excess anger and ruminations to make room for happy experiences.

You can’t eat all your happiness at one meal.

You need to eat every day. For a happy life take in some happiness each and every day. You need to eat a sensible diet every day. For the maximum happy life, you will need to incorporate small doses of happiness every day.

Do not think that one huge dose of happiness will satisfy you for the rest of your life. Watch for the small things that build your healthy happiness. That good job or new relationship may make you happy for a while but you will need to maintain that relationship and keep up a positive view of that job or soon those things that were supposed to make you happy will fade into extra weight around your emotional middle.

Avoid bingeing on negativity.

Binge eating is bad for your physical health. Bingeing on negative thoughts is bad for both your mental health and your physical health. You can’t load up on negativity and unhappy thinking all day and then expect one positive event to make your day happy.

To build a happy life you need to consume small snacks of happiness all day long. Don’t waste time on negativity. Solve the problems that can be solved and accept the things that are out of your control.

Watch for the little things in life that bring the smiles. Laugh a little at frequent intervals.

Practice healthy happiness skills.

There are those things that can pretend to make you happy, the happiness imposters. Drugs, alcohol, and lots of selfish pursuits try to pretend they will make you happy. Really happiness grows from using positive, safe coping tools each and every day.

If you run by those bursts of happy feelings you will miss them. Do things that make you happy. Appreciate those things. Repeat as needed.

Stay off the happiness scale.

Constant measuring, asking if you are happy enough, can impede the growth of real happiness. Focus on maximizing your happiness not measuring it. Do not dwell on what is missing in your life. Make plans to fill up those shortages and then focus on the journey.

Too much checking the map can keep you from making progress on the journey of life. Take those periodic inventories of your life, but day-to-day keep working on making progress on your goals.

Make being happy part of your daily routine.

Do not put off being happy till later. Spend a few minutes each morning telling yourself that some good things will happen today. Watch for the things that make your day better. Say nice things to yourself.

What things can you do for yourself each day that makes you happy? Pet the dog or cat and tell them that it is nice to see them.

Create happiness rituals.

Work small rituals and routines that increase your happiness into your day. Say an affirmation, make yourself a treat. Schedule time for a cute-cat-video to start your day.

Practice your religious or spiritual tradition. Say Hi to your higher power and expect that you will get a Hi and some love back. Prayers do not need to be long or complicated to keep you in touch with your source of strength and love.

What small thing could you do each day to get your day off to a great start?

To develop maximum happiness make friends with your emotions.

Do not let sad feelings, loneliness, or depression take over control of your life. Do learn to listen to your feelings. If something is not making you happy ask yourself why? Is this about the thing, the job, the relationship, or is it about me?

Unhappy people are unhappy everywhere no matter what happens. Happy people grow that happiness and weed out the things that are sapping the strength from their life.

Develop the skill of being happy.

Being happy is not a result of chance. People win the lottery and still many are not happy. Love comes and it goes. Wherever you go, you are there. Learn the skill of seeing the best in the situation you are in while working towards having the life you want.

Happiness is not a destination; it is a lifetime journey.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel