Friday, February 6, 2009

OCD and Happiness

Happiness, true happiness, has to be self-generated. It has to come from within the spirit. I’m sitting here with the realization that sometimes my OCD has been so severe that I have been unable to generate even one happy feeling that would sustain a good mood. I would get fleeting glimpses of what I believed felt like inner happiness, but then they would flicker away in an instant. I have discovered that I have been great at instantly generating INTENSE feelings of fear, depression, and anger.

This is not the way things should be. I now know that my OCD automatic Intrusive Thoughts have been responsible for most of this. If your OCD is responsible for producing negative moods that are disrupting your life, it is because your thoughts are producing a potent batch of neuro-peptides, which are the brain chemicals responsible for mood. If you can understand this, then you will realize that by practicing to focus on something that is pleasant to you, real or imaginary, you can change your brain chemistry. This won’t happen instantly, but it can be a new beginning.

One of the best things a person can do is to focus their attention on only the good things that are happening in their lives. Looking around the Internet, I came across an article by Rick Hanson PhD - how to trick your brain for happiness. Part of this article says to focus on happy thoughts. I agree with this and hope all your thoughts are happy!...

Just having positive experiences is not enough to promote last well-being. If a person feels grateful for a few seconds, that’s nice. That’s better than feeling resentful or bitter for a few seconds. But in order to really suck that experience into the brain, we need to stay with those experiences for a longer duration of time—we need to take steps, consciously, to keep that spotlight of attention on the positive.
So, how do we actually do this? These are the three steps I recommend for taking in the good. I should note that I did not invent these steps. They are embedded in many good therapies and life practices. But I’ve tried to tease them apart and embed them in an evolutionary understanding of how the brain works.
1. Let a good fact become a good experience. Often we go through life and some good thing happens—a little thing, like we checked off an item on our To Do list, we survived another day at work, the flowers are blooming, and so forth. Hey, this is an opportunity to feel good. Don’t leave money lying on the table: Recognize that this is an opportunity to let yourself truly feel good.
2. Really savor this positive experience. Practice what any school teacher knows: If you want to help people learn something, make it as intense as possible—in this case, as felt in the body as possible—for as long as possible.
3. Finally, as you sink into this experience, sense your intent that this experience is sinking into you. Sometimes people do this through visualization, like by perceiving a golden light coming into themselves or a soothing balm inside themselves. You might imagine a jewel going into the treasure chest in your heart—or just know that this experience is sinking into you, becoming a resource you can take with you wherever you go.

No comments: