The world is full of things that can be debated for hours and still barely be touched by our minds. Words, thoughts and events so vast and deep that even the most mindful of us tend to find themselves just scratching the surface of the subject, no matter how much effort is put into the process.
Perhaps, happiness is a good example of such things.
What is happiness? How is it achieved? Can happiness be a solid constant in our lives? If we put logic aside and lose ourselves in this moment of reflection, we will find that the answers were always inside our hearts, just waiting there to be seized by our will and determination.
And when that is done – all of our problems suddenly just fade away. Either because they become subjectively unimportant compared to our happiness, or because they resolve themselves overtime. As an example to illustrate this, I want to take the problem of obesity.
Excess weight is the pathological state of having more body fat than optimal for your height and overall constitution.
Many factors contribute to the development of weight gain. Some of the most important of them are sedentary lifestyle and uncontrolled eating regime. Even food allergies are known to add fat to the body.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health consequences of overweight and obesity are raised BMI levels, which is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and musculoskeletal disorders.
The question is why did this become an issue from the very beginning? For instance, the majority of people with excess weight do not have any morphological changes in their bodies that could explain their obesity. No hormonal disturbances, no significant metabolic aberrations – nothing that could be seen as the primary cause of their state.
Their obesity is of the behavioral type, meaning that it results from regular pattern-like overeating.
But what is the reason behind this?
In terms of physiology, all of our pleasant emotions are based on the effects of specific hormones in the human body – endorphins, often referred to as “happiness hormones” in popular science resources. The word itself is composed of two parts: endo- and -orphine, short for “endogenous morphine”. Simply speaking, endorphins are substances resembling morphine that are produced in your body (brain, specifically).
The interesting part is that morphine is a powerful and highly addictive drug – and endorphins are as well. Both morphine and endorphins have potent analgesic (painkiller) properties and cause euphoria. The latter one, when “stretched” over the canvas of time, is perceived as happiness.
Endorphins are produced in our bodies and released into our blood under numerous conditions and in many circumstances. For example, during significant aerobic exercises and laughter. But, perhaps, the two most widely used sources of endorphins are sex and food.
Both of these drastically increase the production and release of endorphins. In a sense, this may be an evolutionary trick that assured that the human body receives enough pleasure from eating and procreating in order to indulge in these activities regularly, promoting the survival of the species.
But in terms of availability, food is usually far ahead of sex. After all, it’s always easier to buy yourself a chocolate bar and catch that glimpse of happiness right away. So, what happens when sexual intercourse becomes unavailable for a significant time or if it becomes impossible due to moral, religious or health-related issues?
When that happens, all we’re left with is a good meal: our foolproof source of endorphins. Every human being is always unconsciously driven towards pleasure and happiness, and every person chooses his own means and ways to achieve this. One way or another, food is one of those “universal” options.
How is it triggered?
Behavioral obesity takes place when people indulge in eating in order to cope with everyday problems, bad mood and other similar issues. The endorphins produced this way work as an antidepressant, helping to carry on with the routine, but never actually solving any problem. Thus, a vicious circle is formed.
Food intake increases in order to feel better during hard times, the eater manages to endure them at the cost of an additional extra weight, the unsolved problems return, the process repeats itself, gradually increasing the person’s overall weight, but not resolving the reason behind such a tendency.
Ultimately, we eat to feel happy. And, when our happiness is scarce, we tend to eat a lot more than we need.
But in fact, it works the other way around too. When we’re happy enough, our body produces plenty of endorphins to keep us moving without thinking about that extra snack throughout the day.
We don’t need any other source of joy – for example, junk food, alcohol, nicotine or similar addictions. When we’re happy, we find delight in the world itself, and by the fact that we’re part of it, connected with all the others into one magnificent system, one beautiful scheme.
How to check?
In fact, many modern weight-loss courses rely on this peculiar effect of good mood and happiness on your appetite; for instance, modern hcg diet drops, that usually have at least one or two ingredients that are believed to improve mood.
Or, for instance, there’s a whole cluster of diets called “antidepressant diets” that primarily aims to help the dieter fight inner emotional problems, thus correcting the behavioral factor of their overeating.
But it is absolutely possible to successfully lose weight through happiness without any specific courses and weight loss programs. The trick here is to really achieve happiness and let you get lost in that feeling.
One of the most straightforward ways of doing that is to find a hobby. Something you’d be genuinely passionate about, something you’d want to explore and research in as many details as possible.
Besides that, happy people tend to be more active in general, visiting numerous places and doing all sorts of activities. This leads to an increased calorie usage, leaving less substrate to build fat. This isn’t different for sex. Being happy can make your sex life happy and active.
Keep in mind, that this logic is viable mostly regarding behavioral obesity. It won’t sort out any bodily dysfunctions besides that, because they need an additional approach, suggested by a professional healthcare practitioner. Be sure to talk the matter through with your physician in order to outline a detailed course of action.
Of course, even this single example is one that can be researched in much more details, but the basis remains as said. Happiness is not only a “goal”, but also a solution for many of our problems: physical, spiritual and emotional. Excess weight included.
Somehow, in my opinion, happiness resembles a tuning fork – the vibrant source of a clear tune, a reference point that helps us to put everything else in their respective places, in order for our life to start playing the beautiful melody that it was always meant to.