I was skimming the book You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought the other day and read about the addictive nature of excitement vs. the pleasing nature of enjoyment. While I sometimes feel we stretch the definition of “addiction” to mean any habitual behavior with negative consequences, it is worth looking at the difference between what most of us seek (excitement) and the more peaceful form of pleasure that comes with enjoyment.
To win, to succeed, is a peak experience. Winning feels really good. You’re at the top. The rush we get with the Big Win is accompanied by a flood of adrenaline and other powerful biochemicals that literally feel great! These chemicals such as endorphins deaden all pain—physical and emotional. Yet, if you look at the cycles of win-lose, succeed-fail, and try-try-again, we get a sense that peak experiences are naturally followed by down time. The body-mind isn’t geared towards maintaining the energy of the peak for very long.
In human evolution, such a drive for the win helped us beat all odds to kill the mammoth, kill the tiger, kill the buffalo, and kill the enemy. Today, the hunt is often different. It is kill the competition, win the contract, make the millions, and win respect. I have no doubt that this innate drive has much to do with how far and fast we’ve advanced technologically and for our generally improved standard of living. The upside is considerable enough (and interesting enough) that we’ve weaved this Winning Attitude into the very fabric of our culture and our DNA.
If you love the kill, if you love the win, and if you feel no strain from being constantly striving towards your next victory… well, you’re rare. Many of my clients are physically and emotionally exhausted from this ongoing battle to prove themselves. Even ones who have made millions, have a couple of nice houses, nice cars, the whole package do not feel like they are thriving.
Excitement is a Burst… Followed By Recovery
Excitement is a part of life. It is a burst, a flash, a reminder of how good we can feel. But have you noticed that not even orgasms last? We get a Big Burst of energy… followed by a refractory period to recover. Even the most multi-orgasmic woman will scream, “ENOUGH!!!” after a surprisingly short number of minutes at the peak of pleasure. It’s well known that most men fall asleep after a single orgasm. If an orgasm lasted for 45 minutes straight, a man would feel such physical pain that he’d be begging to be put out of his misery.
I’ve used sexual pleasure as an example here because the transformation of pleasure into misery does not take very long. I believe the energies that drive us to succeed (and mate indiscriminantly or excessively… even if just in the imaginary world of pornography) are close cousins with the energies of fear. Again, picture the successful person who shortly after the WIN ends up depressed. “Is that all there is?” Imagine the lottery winner who spends spends spends for the thrill of spending, and still feels unfulfilled. “Is that all there is?” Imagine the couple caught up in the heat of new passion, having sex 5-6 times a day, and asking weeks later when the fire dies down, “Is that all there is?”
Is That All There Is?
If you are needing peak experiences to feel good, YES, you have a problem. You can’t hold onto the feeling. The internal chemistry and focus needed just are not available for extended periods of time. Drive drive drive yourself to win at anything, and the ensuing refractory (rest) period that follows may be deeply unsettling to you. Depression is common. And when another win (bigger, of course) does not follow soon… despair and hopelessness can set in. And if not those, an underlying angst that life just isn’t feeling as exciting as you’d like it to be.
Shifting Your Intention to Feeling Good
The peak experience is AWESOME! AMAZING! UNBELIEVABLE! The place of thriving is… feeling good, feeling grateful, feeling appreciation, feeling connected, feeling peaceful, feeling confident, feeling full of joy. These are entirely different vibrations from the peak experience! And these emotions fill us. They leave us satisfied and energized.
It starts with changing your intention. Do you need to feel AWESOME AMAZING UNBELIEVABLE? Do you need to be THE BEST? PERFECT? ACCLAIMED? Or… SAVE THE WORLD!?! If so, you have a core belief that this is what it takes for you to be happy. And no matter HOW amazing life is on any measure, if this is your driving intention, you will have all the strains that go with the constant battle to be the champion, the gladiator… or die trying.
Been there, done that? I have, too. And what I’ve decided is to start by intending to feel good. Rather than seeking excitement for thrill’s sake, I am allowing myself to enjoy what shows up, making the best of it, and putting my heart’s intention behind allowing myself to expand in joy.
Joy is the little girl skipping down the sidewalk singing her song. Joy is noticing the little girl skipping and singing and finding her pleasing.
Joy is holding hands with a friend and appreciating the physical warmth and exchange of appreciative glances.
Joy is feeling gratitude and saying, “Yes, thank you Universe. Send me more.”
If this feels boring, or not juicy enough for you… chances are you have a strong habitual preference (addiction?) to excitement. And chances are that when you don’t have the excitement, you become really hard on yourself. Because… self-hate is cousin to excitement. It drives us… for a time… with the same mix of chemicals. This is a significant and challenging energetic habit to shift.
EFT to Shift to Joy
EFT can help here. First, identify your beliefs about excitement and success. Use them in EFT setup statements. Here are some examples:
Even though I need excitement to be happy, I am open to feeling surprisingly good right here, right now.
Even though I need to be successful, or what good am I?, I have decided to feel good just as I am right now.
Even though I love excitement, I am open to feeling joyful every moment of every day.
You can also start making a gratitude list: a simple list of what you find pleasing each day. If you are needing the big win or juicy excitement, as you make your gratitude list, a series of “Yes, buts” will arise. “Yes, I’m grateful for the $1000 in my bank account, but I really need $1,000,000!” As you notice these, use EFT on them.
Even though I don’t have a million dollars, I choose to feel surprisingly grateful with the $1000 I do have!
This is the kind of energy shift that feels foreign and unnatural at the start. Gratitude is a pleasing vibration… it just isn’t ecstatic. Appreciating the beauty of another being is delicious… it just isn’t orgasmic. Until you experience long-term fulfillment, until you can relax into feeling joy-filled for hours at a time, this shift can be perceived as a loss. Like something is missing. Again, use EFT on those feelings, especially where you feel them in your body right before you engage in any other addictive behaviors.
You might also consider coaching. Coaching can help you get clear on your intentions, clean up the mixed vibrations you are sending out to the Universe, and help you allow yourself to feel good. If this appeals to you, I encourage you to become a Thriving Now Team Member.
Thriving… Peace, Joy, Love, Laughter
Humans are amazing beings. We are capable of such a wide range of emotions and experiences. It is true that culturally we celebrate the gold medals and the heroic efforts. If you can watch those and feel peaceful appreciation, your energy is tuned in a way that you can thrive. If you can participate in lovely co-creations, enjoying every step of the journey, and looking forward to continued bliss… you are tuned into Source Energy in a way that will guide and nourish you for a lifetime. Thriving is in the NOW, the present moment. It is in all the richness you can absorb from your everyday, every breath experience. And I know that what you formerly considered the “peak experience” or the Big Win will pale in comparison to being aware in every cell of your being how connected and loved you truly are.
“Selfishly seek joy, because your joy is the greatest gift you can give to anyone. Unless you are in your joy, you have nothing to give anyway.”