Little Limbic?

The brain is a marvelous creation like none other. It determines how we react to situations and our environment. Dopamine released at the right time can relax us, while adrenalin can get us pumped up for action. With such an organ controlling everything our body does, one could question if we are really in control.

Taking a closer look at our brain, we can find segments and defined regions. Each region governs different controls. For example, the medulla oblongata controls eye movement, breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. At the lower temporal section, we will find the limbic system. Note: the term “limbic” system is antiquated, but for simplicity, I choose to use it in this blog. 

The limbic system has two horn-like sectors on each temporal side that controls spatial memory. This is the hippocampus. Have you ever revisited a city and remembered how to navigate the roads. That, my friend, is the hippocampus at work. 

The funny thing about the hippocampus is that it can decrease in size when a person is exposed to stress. This will result in the loss of long-term memories. Adults who have experienced abusive childhoods often have considerable gaps in their memories. The size of this region is smaller in Alzheimer’s patients and those with dementia. 

Another exciting find comes in the form of learning. Earlier, we mentioned that the hippocampus controls long-term memories. This means events in the “now” are not correctly stored. Thus, when it’s time to remember that memory is not there. Welcome to the foundation of some learning disabilities. 

It is fundamentally accepted that abused or neglected children suffer academically. I’d like to point out the stress they are placed under and the duration. For most, there is no way out of this abuse. Stockholm’s syndrome may play a part in this, but I believe their refusal to leave exists within the bond between parent and child. 

So is an abused child destined to grow up poor and live a life of crime? We’ll find out more next week as we continue this discussion. 

Until the next blog, live life, be happy and click the like button.  

Found Happiness, Now What.

As an aviation electrician, I work with a lot of test sets. Each box has its use, which means I need to know how to connect and operate these 1970 era relics. That got me thinking about happiness. 

How often do we find happiness then, not know what to do? It’s as though we are always told to “find our happiness” but never told what to do once we find it. Of course, the obvious answer is “Enjoy it.”  But, stopping to smell the roses doesn’t come easy for some of us. 

And just like that, frustration sets in, and we lose the happiness we were searching for. It’s not difficult to comprehend the negative impact of the spiraling domino effect caused by our newfound depression. 

We’ve also heard that we must maintain our happiness to enjoy it for any length of time. True as this may be, how do we keep what we don’t even know how to enjoy? 

If this sounds familiar, then I have one word for you. Stop. Due to my over-analytical thinking, I have found myself fighting to stay happy. The statements above are how happiness feels to me at times. 

Happiness is a state of being, not a state of mind. It’s a product of our actions, not what we manufacture. Thus, there is no such thing as maintaining happiness. There is, however, finding moments that make us smile, bring a warm feeling in our hearts, and lifts our spirits. 

A church building doesn’t bring happiness. It’s just a building. But the experience within the walls, the sermons felt, and the fellowship with friends is what warms our soul. For the record, I don’t attend church. My spiritual studies are done in private. I remember church experiences from my youth. 

Take time each day to search for new experiences. This is a must as we get older. What made us happy in our 20’s will most likely annoy us in our 40’s. Trust me; the club scene is not what it use to be, and forget about staying out all night. If the sun’s down, I’m down. How else could I be up at 3 a.m. writing this blog? 

Anywho, just as we cannot control the scent of a rose, we cannot control what makes us happy. Sure, jumping off of a cliff and catching an updraft in a hang-glider looks fun. But I just can’t see myself doing it. This brings me to another point. Never force happiness. If we try something new and it doesn’t make us happy. Move on. We are not expected to like everything, and our joy is not others’ responsibility.  

We all want to find happiness, and we all want that feeling to stay. Like a sine wave on an oscilloscope, our emotions will go up and down. This is a natural rhythm that everyone experiences. Don’t take the small things in life for granted. Focus on the positive things, count our blessings daily, and relax. These are the things we can do to find our happiness. 

Never think that you do not deserve to be happy. You deserve happiness. There is nothing we can do to change the past. We can dwell on it, go nowhere, or move on. Late-night thoughts can hound us and build a case on why we don’t deserve happiness. Memories of our mistakes get stuck in a loop as we watch our ignorance play over and over. 

Come to terms with these memories. 

Yes, we do stupid things. Welcome to being human. 

Until the next blog, get some rest, stop worrying, and find life’s happiness. 

Be Overly Emotional… Or Not

Why do we love our parents? Come on; this is easy. When we were to young to provide for ourselves they were there. They met our needs and became our childhood heroes. OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the picture. Having our essential needs fulfilled is one reason we cling to our parents. They provided stability.

Then we developed wants. Junk food, toys, TV  are usually the first series in a long list. The gratitude of fulfilling wishes is shorter-lived. Nothing quenches thirst like water, yet people drink less than the daily recommended amount. Why? 

Simply put, we substitute water with sodas because of our addiction to processed sugar, and it tastes better. There’s a reason sugar is called kid-crack. But, processed sugar is a want, and it leaves us wanting more. And if we don’t get it, we get cranky, loud, and irrational. This brings me back to my point. We are all emotional creatures. 

Everyone has something that triggers their emotions, good or bad. The foundation of it all lies within the meeting of needs or wants. This is why people fall in love then fall out of love. The fulfillment isn’t there. We need emotional as much as material support. 

We can’t live on love alone, and we can’t live solely on material things. 

There has to be a balance. 

Everyone, with a sense of humanity, wishes wellbeing for others. No one wants others to suffer. But, there are times when our emotions get the best of us, and we lose control. We raise our voice in a futile effort to get our point across. This is a state of being overly emotional. Note: Raising our voice only makes us less approachable. It solves nothing, aside from raising adrenaline levels, and puts nerves on edge. Trust me when I say they are not “just words”. We can throw some mean verbal punches that hurt. Perhaps, this is one reason why I am overly polite when speaking to others. I don’t want to be that angry sounding guy.

For me, I used my pent up rage as an adrenaline rush. Blood pressure would shoot through the roof. Words would fly at high volume, destroying whoever was in my line of sight. Hey! This isn’t the first time I’ve admitted to being a class-A socially nimrodded person. That was then, this is now. I’ve come to terms with my actions. But that doesn’t mean the memories aren’t there. I just don’t beat myself up over them any more. 

The manner in which we handle each situation is one hundred percent up to us, and we are responsible for our actions. We are the reason why we get mad, sad, or happy. We control our emotions. If not, then we are out of control. Let’s be honest, we all have our moments of losing control. The emotions pertaining to certain situations will overwhelm us. It’s knowing what to do in these situation that make or break the moment. 

Being over emotional is a sign that the situation is more than we can handle a lone. This is why it is good to have a friend or relative that we can confide to. No one is expected to handle every situation a lone.

It’s our choice to be overly emotional… or not.

Until the next blog, live life, be happy, and click the like.

Down But Not Out

No one is immune from a case of “down and out”. It can hit us at any time. A five-minute job is one sheared bolt away from being an all-day project. Aggravation and disappointment can knock anyone off of their high-horse. 

This reminds me of an episode of a competition show I watched last week. Four knowledgeable contestants had to forge a blade. They all we amped and excited to prove their skill. Then, tragedy struck when one contestant made a mistake. He was so disappointed that he frowned with his whole face. This expression never changed. He knew he wasn’t going to win. 

Whether we believe we will win or lose, we are correct. 

The hardest part about getting knocked down is getting back up just to get knocked down again. But most of that is the fear of being knocked down again. When we were toddlers, we learned to walk by falling down a lot. But, we got back up and carried on. As adults, we don’t have someone there cheering us on, saying, “Get up. You can do it.” Nope, we have peers laughing at us. 

I know, I make adulting look fun. But here is the fact. We are our voice of encouragement. How often do we pat ourselves on the back? Every day is the only answer. Sometimes I’m impressed I get out of bed. 

This world is going to be hard on us. People will always point out what we did wrong. Of course, this is after we made a mistake and hindsight is 20/20. This is why it is essential to learn how to be our cheerleading squad. We are our source of encouragement that gets us back on our feet. Don’t listen to nincompoops, who always have something negative to say. They’re nincompoops; that’s what they do. 

We may get down, but we are never out until we admit it. This world will give up on us long before we give up on ourselves. Toddlers have to fall to walk. They also have to learn how to get up. So it is with us. We have to learn to keep our chin up even when we are cold and alone. We have to be our sunshine on a rainy day. 

The voices of others do carry a lot of weight with us. Peer pressure is a “hoo-ha” at times. We like it when others are inline with us. Being in synch with others brings harmony. This is why others want us to change while being less apt to change themselves. Learn to put more weight in our thoughts and deeds. 

We are responsible for our thoughts and actions. The devil didn’t make us do it. We chose to do it. We choose to smile, be happy, frown, be disappointed, or be neutral and apathetic. We choose to be who we are. Life is as good as it is bad. We decide how to see it and how to live it.

I may down, but I am not out.

Until the next blog, live life, be happy, and click the like button. 

Extroversion Trait During A Pandemic

Social Butterflies score high in this trait. After a long week working in a cubicle, or at home watching children, or being a hermit to get the job done, extroverts need social interaction to recharge their batteries. 

With social distancing, one can see where social minglers may have a problem. Once we reach a point where we need to get out and do something, staying in place hinders our happiness. Sure, we could jump on social media or have a virtual group call, but there’s nothing like the real deal. 

Right about now, being an introvert may sound optimal. This may be true up to a certain point. Everyone needs time alone, but isolation for long periods isn’t the answer. Everyone needs human contact; it’s psychologically proven. Some of us need more than others. 

Our list of necessities is unique, but we all have the same basic needs. It comes down to the quality and quantity of fulfilling those needs.  What works for you may not work for me. It is essential to find that happy medium.

So, whether we love snuggling up with a book or going to the park, we need to find what recharges our batteries without breaking any orders. This week of blogs has shown how the COVID-19 pandemic affects each of us differently. 

Our needs are as unique as our perspectives. Thus, the pandemic I experience may differ from the pandemic you experience. This is why it is important not to judge how others handle this crisis. Instead, we should come together as a community and assist those that need it. Or lend an ear to those that want to talk. Together we make this world a better place. 

Until the next blog, live life, be happy, and click the like button.

Post Script: These blogs will return to their regular Friday posting. Thanks for taking the time to pause and read. 

Neurotic Trait During A Pandemic

To those who score high in this department, anxiety is well known. A feeling of dread brings questions. “What will happen? What will become of us?” Our minds flood with fear and fret. Soon we are left with nothing but a hopeless feeling within our soul. 

Our neurotic friends are moody with a side of anxiety, fear, frustration, anger, envy, guilt, and jealousy. What a package, right? Before we judge, let’s take a second to remember that we all have felt these feelings before. It would behoove us to show empathy towards those who experience these feelings every day, or close to that. 

We have experienced a lot in the past year; social distancing, political corruption, and financial burdens. This world of uncertainties is a nightmare for the neurotic. 

Those of us who score low in this trait now would be a perfect time to look down on those who didn’t take the time to plan for this. But, such behavior doesn’t become us. Being human means abstaining from the preceding and listening to those worried about the future. Comfort those who are pissed off but don’t know why.

Together we can take the hot and cold and find warmth. We all have our times of faltering in a  moment of vacillation. When chaos comes our way, it will behoove us to remember the following. 

If we are worrying, then we are not thinking.

If we are not thinking, then we are not planning.

If we are not planning, we will never find a solution.

Stop worrying.

Start thinking.

Start planning.

Find that solution. 

Until the next blog, live life, be happy, and click the like button.

Agreeableness Trait During A Pandemic

The agreeableness trait is, by far, my favorite. This trait’s pros include kindness, empathy, and helpfulness, while the cons consist of caring too much, spread too thin, and self-neglect. People who score high here make fantastic friends.

Low scorers are more self-preserving and tend not to lend a hand. They have a resting “blah” face that makes them look unapproachable. They may love going out and enjoying the town, but they pay their tabs and don’t ask for favors. This trait may reside in someone who has suffered a considerable loss or has been hurt physically and/or emotionally. 

How has the pandemic affected them? First, there is a huge demand for help. Fifty thousand chances to make people smile every day; that’s every single day of every single week of every flippin’ month. Will it ever STOP!? And that’s how we go from “Oh boy!” to “Oh my!”. 

We are human, and there is a part of us that wants to help even if it’s in third-person (referring help) But, we have our limits and have a tendency to get in over our heads. Soon, we are drowning in what we love to do the next thing we know. 

For the conservative side, isolation may bring a bit of comfort but leave us with our thoughts for too long, and depression may follow. Social media has its benefits, but it is no substitute for social events. 

The average person fits in the middle but given the right environment, and we may find ourselves on either end of the spectrum. Take the time to analyze our surroundings. Are we getting in too deep?  Or, are we too isolated? 

As much as I’d like to say things will return to “normal”, that isn’t possible. We will find a new standard, and with it will come new happiness. This is how life works with its ever-changing ways. 

Until the next blog, live life, be happy, and click the like button.

Consciousness Trait During A Pandemic

A place for everything and everything all over the place. Low scorers in the consciousness department may relate to this fragmented sentence. In contrast, a high scorer may find it insulting. 

Consciousness is the trait that points out the deliberate worker. This is the one who makes their bed every day, folds the clothes before they have time to cool down, alphabetize their book collection. Order is supreme. 

This may sound dreamy until chaos ensues. Order is challenging to find amid a pandemic. With everything changing, one can barely keep up. So it is with the conscious-minded. A job loss, illness, acting on misinformation, all are stumbling blocks for the conscious-minding. Disorganization or an unstable future can present a nervous breakdown. No one is bulletproof.

On the flip-side, the person who scores low in this department may have a difficult time. These are the ones who end up in poverty, jail, or homeless. They are not goal-driven, so they tend to take things as they come instead of seizing the moment. 

Without goals or direction, a person will find themselves wandering. They may feel lost. This can bring depression or a sense of hopelessness. Couple this with society looking down at them, and we have a perfect recipe for a criminal. When survival is at hand, we have fewer problems breaking the law. 

Though these two traits have different pandemic approaches, both can have complications just as easy as they can have success. Yes, I know my focus was on the negative side of this trait. And that’s the point. We are all susceptible to bad times. Check on each other, and be honest. If we’re having a bad day, let people who ask know that this is the Mondayest Friday ever. It happens, and we will get through it. 

Until the next blog, live life, be happy, and click the like button. 

Open/Closed-Minded Trait During A Pandemic

After the seven-day trial of 2021, most of us are ready to cancel our subscription. Better times are coming, or for some, they may already be here. This pandemic has hit us all differently. Parents dealt with the school system, workers dealt with employment, and nurses dealt with crowded hospitals. Some of us faced one of these scenarios, while others faced all three. This is one aspect of how the COVID-19 virus has affected us in different manners.

I apologize for not posting last Friday. I wanted to take the time to look at how the big five traits are dealing with the pandemic. I intend to keep this week’s daily blog short and sweet. But, as writers, we know how that goes. 

Open-minded/Closed-minded

Here, a high scorer is not afraid of trying new things, while the low scorer tends to stick with traditional values. So which one will be more willing to shelter-in-place? 

Change comes easier for an open person rather than a closed person. Wearing a mask daily everywhere is a new norm. Adapting to children’s new schedules is never easy, but one can tackle this problem efficiently with an open mind. 

It sounds like open-minded is the way to go, right? Slow your roll turbo, a closed person may not be open to new things, but they have a higher risk assessment. They are cautious and make very deliberate changes. There are research and studies and reading to complete. After all, one does not jump willy-nilly into a pandemic.

Both traits can survive. One is faster at accepting the change while the other understands the reason for the change and can apply that reasoning to upcoming scenarios. 

End the end; we are all human. Our approach to this pandemic is as unique as we are. Yes, some of us are open-minded, while others are tightly closed-minded. We are neither right nor wrong, so long as we are working towards a common goal. There are some among us who believe there is no pandemic. Perhaps they are so open-minded to this idea that it is easy to accept. Or maybe they are closed-minded and clenching to how things used to be. Either way, both have their strength and weaknesses. This is why it is wise not to judge them.

Until the next blog, live life, be happy, and click the like button. 

Welcome to 2021

I’m sure this is not what they meant by saying hindsight is 2020, but here we are on the flipside. This pandemic has everyone unsure and cautious of everything around us. And who can blame us? The media is blasting awful news to the point I’m sure Bruce Willis and a group of his friends launched last week to blow up an Earthbound asteroid. 

No one has a magic 8-ball forecasting the future, so until we do find such a thing, we may as well set back and enjoy the ride. Bad things are going to happen just as well as good. But for some odd reason, we are compelled to point everything that is not right with the world. Perhaps we should simmer down for a bit. But, in this capitalistic world, good news doesn’t pay as much as gossip.

As bad as 2020 may have been, it wasn’t voted as the worst year ever. Historians believe that title belongs to 1348, which was the height of the Black Plague. 1944 came in second, followed by 1816. 1816 was when a volcano erupted, blocked out the sun, and sent millions into starvation. But if you are curious as I am, 2020 ranked sixth. So, yeah, 2020 wasn’t our best year. This is strictly going off a 30 second Google search of “Was 2020 the worst year?” Hey, this is technical and scientifically opinionated stuff here. 

Will 2021 be better? It only has five spots ahead of this year to be counted as worse on the bright side. Perhaps a quick search of what Hollywood thought 2021 would be like will bring a smile to our faces. After all, the Jetson’s supposed to be in 2062. (100 years from the 1962 debut) Forty-one years until I buy my first flying car. It could happen. 

But whatever comes our way, our attitude will affect our perception. We are the reason we choose to get mad or decide to smile. We are in control of our emotions; no one else. So here’s to not only having a great year but a great time as well.

Happy New Year.

Until the next blog, live life, be happy and don’t forget to like.