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OCD 2, Physical Happiness

Updated on December 13, 2011


Sensations from the body affect mood. Here is a list of causes of physical discomfort.

  1. Pain. Muscle pain to somatic pain. Also includes cardiovascular pain.
  2. Lack of flow, inactivity/boredom.
  3. Sleep deprivation states, depressive and bipolar physical symptoms
  4. Low/High blood sugar states, anxiety to lethargy
  5. Anxiety
  6. Depression: generalized aversive physical sensations, lack of pleasure from normally pleasurable sensations
  7. Aversive reactions to repulsive information from the senses, smells, sights, sounds, etc
  8. Hunger/thirst

The way you might use this list is to design your activities and environment so as to avoid these sensations for example by exercising, getting enough sleep, eating right, and even taking pain medications if needed. You might also find other ways of turning pain into pleasure or at least reducing the pain.

Pleasurable sensations include eating, sex, affection, muscular relaxation, flow, using euphoriants and satiety. You would design your day and your environment to get the most out of your pleasures by using them in a way that results in a net gain in happiness. Again, you might imagine yourself playing the happiness game and giving yourself points that indicate how much of a good thing is enough such that bad consequences don’t negate the pleasure.

The reason it is important to consider physical happiness is because there may actually not be any such thing as psychological happiness, i.e. it may be that happiness is always expressed as a conception of your experience of different emotional states which are all no more than the brain’s assessment of your physical states. This is why the happiness of good news is felt as your face muscles tightening into a smile, a giddyness in your muscles, an increased heart rate. Bad news can feel like a tightness in your muscles or a ‘pain in the neck’. There may not be any disembodied emotions. It may be possible to achieve better mood states by attacking the physical symptoms of bad mood states directly, just as pain relievers that reduce physical pain have been found to also reduce depression. The purpose of the mind is ultimately to bias the body into certain physical movements so it should be no surprise that psychological biases are felt in the body.

Take regular time to scan your body and make necessary adjustments to avoid unnecessary pain. You may do this during exercise, meditation, yoga practices or anytime you have a break or notice your mood souring.

Thanks. Feel free to comment.

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