Are you in love with your life? Are you fulfilled? We all want to be happy, but happiness often seems so hard to obtain.
Parkinson’s Disease develops in a part of the brain that produces dopamine, and as the disease progresses the brain has less and less dopamine; this chemical contributes to our feelings of happiness and pleasure, so it is not surprising that many people with Parkinson’s are often left with poor mental health and depression. Our brains simply do not produce this much sought after and elusive hormone.
I have therefore had to take matters into my own hands; hence the positivity and optimism that I try to carry with me like a campaign banner. As I wave goodbye to my last molecules of dopamine, I am determined to do whatever I can to create a little boost of the good stuff myself. So, what are you doing to make yourself happy? What can you do to make yourself even happier?
Happiness means different things to different people, but to me it is quite simply good health, inner peace and serenity; it is not connected to status symbols, a pay slip or material goods that my ego drives me towards obtaining. Happiness to me is peace of mind and doing what makes my soul happy; I am happiest when I am doing the things that I am enthusiastic and passionate about, those things that light me up, and I find joy in the little things that we so often take for granted.
I am at my unhappiest when I am busy and overwhelmed, when I haven’t had time to produce dopamine by doing the things that I love; and so, this leads to fatigue, inability to concentrate, hopelessness, mood swings, sleep problems and poor mental health.
Those with low dopamine levels tend to engage in addictive and self-destructive behaviours, they crave sugar, they accumulate more than they need due to feelings of lack and not being enough, they worry constantly and live in a state of fear. Your body will tell you when it’s needs are not being met, mine certainly did!
So, if you are not happy, ask yourself why not? Why are you not fulfilled?
It may be that something in your life needs to go, that may be a person, an addictive behaviour, or something on the to-do list that you feel that you ‘should’ be doing but don’t want to. Let something go so that you can make time for the people and things that bring you joy. If something drains you, then why do it? How is that living? It may be that someone in your life needs to go; we all go through bouts of negativity but if someone is always moaning it ends up sucking your energy. You can still be compassionate but distance yourself kindly for your own happiness and serenity. Let go of people and situations that no longer serve you; it is better to feel guilt than resentment.
Make a vow to yourself to do things every single day to make yourself happy. Be kind to yourself, scale back on things that are standing in the way of your happiness. Surround yourself with people who boost you, nurture these relationships and consciously move away from those who never stop complaining. Stay in the moment and stop making up future scenarios that haven’t happened. Set realistic goals rather than unattainable ones that will make you feel guilty for not achieving. Be grateful throughout the day and know that sometimes problems are gifts, the things that you take for granted now will not always be here. Do things that you love and look forward to. Learn something new, grow and learn every single day. Stop saying yes and people pleasing; this does not make you lazy or selfish, simply say ‘I’d like to, but I don’t have the time’. Spend time in nature, it is one of the best medicines for the mind and it takes you away from the mundane. Finally, and most importantly, laugh!
It’s also important to reflect on whether or not we make others happy. Would people consider you to be a light or a drain? Do people brace themselves for an onslaught of negativity when they see you coming? It’s worth reflecting on the energy that we bring into our workplaces, families and friendship groups…
Finally, remember that unhappiness is a catalyst for change. Release grasp and control and fall into the arms of trust, faith and eternal optimism. Those things that make us unhappy are a mirror showing us what needs to change.
Now it’s over to you…