Smile and the World Smiles With You?
It might just be in my imagination. A lot of things are.
But I’m starting to wonder, is my ADHD seasonal? Do the symptoms abate in the warm, long days of summer?
Then grow worse during February’s cold, grey?
Certainly my mood improves at this time of year.
A combination of the sun, warmth, being outdoors, and some kind of primal echo from my childhood… “School’s out for summer! Not more recess, no more books! No more teacher’s dirty looks.”
Alice Cooper never snarled truer words.
Clearly I prefer summer.
But does my mood impact the severity of my ADHD symptoms?
Can unhappiness make my ADHD symptoms worse?
Well, women with ADHD are often misdiagnosed with Depression. (Or properly diagnosed with Depression, but their accompanying ADHD is missed.)
How Do You Measure Mood?
Tying my ‘mood’ to my ADHD symptoms strikes me as a bit new-agey.
Yet the Anti-Depressant medications that target Serotonin in the brain have proven helpful to people with ADHD.
Since Dr. Martin Seligman pioneered the term Positive Psychology in 1988, the amount of hard scientific research on ‘happiness’ has soared.
The same real-time brain imaging machines that have revealed the neurological differences in people with ADHD, have also showed the dramatic differences between people who are very happy, versus those who are struggling with Depression.
Happiness is a Warm Puppy
Isn’t happiness a profound state of being? Yes. And yet, apparently, you can ‘Fake it till you make it?’
I won’t go into all the research, but there are a lot of ways to elevate your mood, and feel better.
Being outdoors, Mindfulness, helping others, consciously practicing gratitude, walking in nature, exercising, walking, being with other people, (and it doesn’t have to be a huge crowd) impact our mood.
Research is showing these ‘Holistic Solutions’ will raise your spirits. (Whereas raising a glass of spirits does not.)
Gratitude is hugely powerful. I’ll write more about that at another time, but there is a reason saying grace, giving thanks, and expressing gratitude are central to all the world’s major religions.
I’d suggest it’s why they became major religions.
Happiness is Good! Who Knew?
This is important because happiness is not fleeting. Or rather, the impact is not fleeting. Happiness (or sadness) affects your whole body.
Everything from protecting your heart, increasing your immunity, and even improving your peripheral vision.
(So when searching for my phone, if I’m in a snit, I’ll walk right by it. The term blind-rage is based on our physiology. Incredible, right?)
Where am I going with this? Until I started to understand my mindset and deal with it, I was not a happy person.
I made people laugh. But that’s different.
I was fun to be around. But I wasn’t feeling ‘fun.’
After all, your personal trainer might have you looking fabulous, and still be overweight themselves. (Okay, that was a weird analogy. You’re welcome to suggest a better one.)
Stay Calm and Find Your Keys
Research has proved that ‘positivity’ is more than a surface thing. You can tell the points in my life when I’ve been unhappy. It’s in every photo.
The emotional burden shows in my face, my body, I’m heavier. Tired looking. My smiles are forced. I look tired, worn. It’s there.
When I’ve been happy, you can see that too. No wonder. I’m better emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Is Laughter the Best Medicine?
The best medicine? I’ll leave that to the researchers, but the evidence is growing that it’s good medicine.
Happiness must be key to success, health, productivity, and creating a life that matters. How could you not be happy?
You could argue that happiness is not the cause of health, but it’s the result of living a life that matters.
For me, the happiness doesn’t come from succeeding, but in taking on a challenge that is engaging and rewarding. Fighting the good fight.
And the opposite is true.
If you’ve ever been in Depression, you know it’s a whole-body experience: stomach aches, pains, headaches, and more. Your view of life narrows.
Your ability to imagine dries up. You can’t focus. Become forgetful. Unmotivated. Trouble remembering…
In fact, you start to look like you have ADHD.
Will a Smile Cure My ADHD?
No. Nothing will ‘cure’ you. (Not yet.)
It takes a holistic approach, multiple tools and strategies, to minimize the impact.
But ADHD can make you miserable.
Once your thoughts start running away on you, rushing to the dark side, swirling from self-deprecating to self-destructive, and sending your body into overdrive, you’re no longer control.
All it takes to gain control?
Just notice that you’re in a state of anxiety. That’s the first step.
And as dumb as it sounds, it’s actually a profound, existential shift.
You’ve moved, in an instant, from a state of anxiety to a state of ‘noticing.’ You’re operating at a higher level of self-awareness.
I used to dismiss my upset. Or minimize it. Or think, “Boy, what an idiot I am for getting so upset,” because that’s just more of the same negative crap.
I’ve been focusing on Habits over the last few Blogs. And negative thinking, fear, pessimism, assuming the worst… those were all habitual ways of thinking for me.
The only way to break the habit was to see it. To recognize what was going on.
Now, You Have Choice
By interrupting the negatives you prevent damage to your mind and your body.
Want to know a secret?
When someone else is anxious, or angry, or afraid, don’t try and talk them out of it.
If they’re having a meltdown about school, their love life, or Donald Trump, just notice it, acknowledge it.
“I get that you are really afraid about this.” Done without judgment, it allows them to pause, and check in… and they’ve shifted too.
So for me, knowing what ADHD is, knowing it’s there and probably always will be, gives me the ability to stop, interrupt, and reframe what’s going on.
Then, all that energy I used to squander, stewing in anger, frustration, blame, and shame? I get to save that energy and use it for something that makes me happy.
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