In the video on “The Brain” we discussed how often our emotions occur in our limbic system of the brain, as does part of our reward pathways that drive cravings and behaviour. That’s all well and good, but why does it matter?
That part of our brain is about driving us to pleasure and taking us away from pain. So the question comes down to “overall, are you happy?”.
Now I have never met a person who is perfectly happy, we are all suffering in some way. But on the balance of things, when you weigh up the positive and negatives – how are you going?
Sometimes life is stressful. Bad things happen, it is inevitable, but it seems more for some than others. Now it comes down to how many ways we have learnt to deal with this stress. Some people have only learnt a few, like eating junk food or drinking alcohol, and of course, they keep doing it because they have no other way to manage it. Therefore, we need to focus on developing new coping skills so we don’t need to rely on these behaviours which I will discuss in the upcoming tips section.
If you feel unhappy then, of course, you are going to seek pleasure, even if it is bad for you in the medium to long-term. What pain are you trying to fix? In a way you are self-medicating – you are giving yourself an upper, a bit of food, or tv show or porn or whatever to make you feel good just for a second, like a hit. You are trying to give yourself a moment’s disconnection, a moment of peace, a moment of pleasure, or a moment of calmness, but is this so short lived and the suffering we are trying to get away from will just come back and then more so because of the consequences of the way we are self-treating is harmful, like too much food or smoking. What will resolve the underlying emotional issues that are causing it? If you feel unloved, unwanted – will it fix those or just delay it?
This may sound a bit soppy, but whether we like it or not humans are emotional beings and we have certain needs. There have been various debate about the hierarchy of those needs since Maslow “hierarchy of needs” in 1943 but the short version is we must fulfil our primal needs in the following areas:
- Physiological needs – food, shelter etc
- Sense of safety
- Love/belonging and connection with others
- Self-Esteem – A sense that we are significant, respected but also independent
- Self-actualization – A sense of self-growth and giving back and contributing
- And we want some variety and fun. No matter what society you look at all human groups have music and games
So let’s cover these in a bit more detail in the next video.