If you know me, you know I’m certainly no scientist, but I do find human behavior fascinating. Last year I was told about a new study that suggests we can become addicted to the chemicals that our bodies produce. One such self-produced drug is Dopamine, a substance more addictive than Morphine. It acts on the sympathetic nervous system producing effects such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, and, from what I understand, an addictive type of euphoria that makes us want more and more. Now, here’s the kicker, Dopamine is produced by drama. When someone starts to stir up the things around them, the drug is released, causing a temporary high that can only be fueled by more drama. You see how the cycle can feed itself, sometimes resulting in a person simply spiraling out of control.
We all know (or are) that person. They are everywhere. People who have to stretch the truth a little just to prove to themselves that they have power; people who have to raise a ruckus just because there’s not enough going on around them; people who just like to see other people squirm. Heck, I knew someone whose road rage was so severe (producing an embarrassing and constant barrage of screaming, cursing, and flying fists) that one day she actually blew her horn – I kid you not – at a red light! It’s no wonder you see people who have a tendency toward drama mongering… they’re quite possibly at the mercy of a chemical dependency, produced by their own bodies!
As with all dependencies and habits, there’s really only one failsafe way to get rid of them: good old-fashioned will power. If you were to ask any of my former music students who knew me in my teaching days, they’d tell you that the difference between the David Beahm then and now is night and day. I used to think that the more I yelled the more I’d get accomplished – until I realized that I was just impeding the process while physically and mentally wearing myself out.
If ever there were one simple truth, it’s this: there are some things you can control, but there will always be a lot of things you can’t. Part of life is accepting that there will always be frustrations. Drama, anger, hyperbolic emotion – those are all things that you can choose to control. One day I realized I had to make the decision, much like an addict, to say “I don’t need this drug anymore” – to change the internal story that I was telling myself.
There really is a kind of reveling in lack of control – an appreciation for being able to learn and gain valuable feedback from life’s annoyances. I’m reminded of Dr. Robert Shuler’s phrase “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” The tough people stop, re-assess, take a deep breath, and then move on with a clearer, more level head with which to solve their problems (not create more for themselves).
The capacity to stop and breathe and take the impediments in stride has become an invaluable asset to both my peace of mind as well as my business (and that of my staff!) Stopping and breathing clears the path for all kinds of good to come in, through all channels in life.
So, whether you’re prone to road rage, or frustrated with your job, why not re-adjust your point of view and look at those moments of anxiety as the Universe handing you the luxury of a break? A little reminder for a moment to breathe. The next time you get caught at a red light, for heaven’s sake, please don’t honk at it – may I gently suggest that you stop, take a deep breath and say: “Thanks for the break! I needed that!”
The Secret Ingredient: Stop and Breathe.