We all have our ups and downs. Sometimes you hunt the bear, and sometimes the bear hunts you. It’s all part of this crazy thing we call life. If you’ve been on this planet for more than a minute, you know that the only constant is change. If you’re doing well right now and things are looking good, you must actively strive to keep them that way. There is no such thing as standing still. And the kicker is that striving for happiness (much less euphoria) in these turbulent times seems less likely than ever before.is

Managing our moods has become more or less a full time job. We feel tired, so we drink some coffee. We feel lonely, so we hop on social media to feel connected. We feel stressed out, so we pour a glass of wine to relax. We can’t go to sleep, so we pop a couple pills. We do whatever we can to try and stay positive and upbeat. We are obsessed with feeling happy all the time, and yet few of us seem to achieve it for long. This isn’t possible because happiness has become synonymous with a state of euphoria. Which begs the question:  what is euphoria?

What is Euphoria?

Most people would say that euphoria is experiencing intense happiness. Few people expect to feel euphoric all the time, but many people seem to think that there is something wrong with their lives if they aren’t intensely happy more often than not. This feeling of not “measuring up” to others stems from all the “happy” people we see on social media. If we don’t have fabulous pictures of exotic vacations, beautiful grandchildren, or extravagant meals to share, we somehow feel we are falling behind. But remember, there is a gigantic difference between actually being obnoxiously happy, and just pretending that you are on social media.

What if the problem is not with our lives, but with our definition of euphoria? We seem to be constantly running around seeking new things to create our next “high.” This futile attempt to find exhilaration every waking moment leaves us exhausted, and less happy than when we started.

What Makes You Feel Euphoric?

There are lots of things that can make people feel that rush of euphoria. Yes, of course, there are chemical substances, known as euphorica, that alter the mind to produce a euphoric state. In short, they can give you that feeling of being “on top of the world.” But let’s get real for a moment. That type of “high” never lasts. A lasting sense of joy generally comes from your own personal efforts, such as setting personal goals and striving to reach them. And the more we actively take part in trying to reach those goals, the more we will feel that “rush” of exhilaration when we achieve them.

Of course, there are many kinds of goals that you can set in life. Some people want to become rich. Others strive to be famous. Still, others want to be both rich and famous. And then there are those of us with more modest pursuits, such as staying healthy and keeping the refrigerator stocked. These are the people who are grateful for what they have and aren’t worried about what they don’t have. These are the people, in short, who have reasonable expectations about what life can and should be.

A New Definition of Euphoria

What if we start with a new definition of euphoria? One that involves leading a purposeful life, where we feel joy and gratitude for the things we have. When we find bliss in the absence of pain and the presence of a tranquil mind, we will be much better off. The essence of true happiness is in having reasonable expectations and the ability to remain present and undistracted. So when we value the euphoria that comes with satisfaction with one’s work, close friendships, good social relationships, a romantic partner, and opportunities for spiritual reflection and personal growth, we can be happy every day.

Money, Money, Money

If you’ve been watching the economy of late, there is cause for celebration. The stock market has enhanced the 401K plans and retirement accounts of many Americans. When it comes to people’s finances, the collective consciousness is about as optimistic it has been in a decade. But merely watching your portfolio grow or buying more and more stuff isn’t going to give you the satisfaction of going out there and experiencing life. Work on personal growth and development, learn something new, and try something you’ve never tried before. There’s nothing like the euphoria that comes from the accomplishment of a meaningful personal goal.

Trust In What You Can Control

Let me give you a personal example. I remember it like it was yesterday. My husband and I had worked for months putting together a survey that was part of his dissertation research. We had checked and double-checked the questions and email addresses, and had finally sent it out to the world. If it worked, and there were enough responses to complete his research, we were home free. If not, we would have to start all over again. That would mean possibly delaying the project by weeks or even months, if not killing it altogether.

Moments after pressing “send,” there it was:  the first email response. Within minutes, we had several responses. The number of replies that came back within the first day let us know that we were in the clear. There were hours of analysis ahead, but the Universe had decided to cooperate with us. It felt like Christmas morning when you not only have received all the gifts you wanted, but the ones you gave were appreciated as well. We were over the moon. It was truly a feeling of euphoria, and it came from the accomplishment of a meaningful goal, not in acquiring more “stuff.”

What About You?

What are you grateful for? What would give your life meaning? What inspires you? How can you live contentedly and meaningfully? These are the questions you need to answer if you want to find true happiness, and perhaps someday a lasting feeling of euphoria.

I am a lifelong learner, musician, author, world traveler, truth enthusiast, life optimizer, and all around bon vivant. After graduating from college as a music major, I quickly found that I would need a “real” job if I wanted to move out on my own and get married. I found one with Southern California Gas Company. Of my 32 years there, I spent over 20 years in Human Resources, specializing in workforce training, instructional design, and performance improvement, as well as competency-based job skills training and behavior-based safety courses. I also earned several profession certifications and a Master’s Degree in Management from the University of Redlands.

In additional to my professional interests, I am a multifarious musician who started my music studies early in life, playing piano at age three. By the time I reached High School I had added clarinet, saxophone, and flute to my list of favorite instruments, and was very active in the music program. I won numerous awards at Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association (SCSBOA) festivals, played twice in the All State Honor Band, and was awarded a music scholarship from the Burbank Women’s Chorus Club. Even while working at SoCalGas, I found time to participate in several musical groups on my own time.

After early retirement (at age 55), I started a new career as a freelance author and contract instructional designer. My early writing efforts were around my professional interests and expertise, which resulted in my first published book, “Instructional Design is NOT Obsolete.” I recently published my second book, “Procrastinators Unite! Tomorrow.” I’m currently working on a novel (who isn’t?), and have started to branch out to include a wider range of topics, from politics to weight loss.

Starting over is not new to me. On a personal note, my husband of 28 years died suddenly and tragically of a massive heart attack, leaving me a widow at the tender age of 50. Never having been one to feel sorry for myself (at least not for long), I started over in my private life as well. Today I have a wonderful new family, and I’m building a new house in a state halfway across the country from where I spent most of my life. I have joined some local music groups, and travel at least three times a year. Every day is an adventure. Sometimes I need to demonstrate my problem solving skills a little more than I would like, but there’s never a dull moment!

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