(Breather) Have you ever wondered just how much physical stress and emotions affect your body? Referencing back to a previous show with Dr. Ron Sinha, who has worked largely in the affluent Silicon Valley area, I talk about how psychological conditions can have a serious impact on your health, regardless of how “big” or “small” whatever problems you’re dealing with might seem. The point is: stress is stress, regardless of the source of that stress – the impact on your health is the same.

Which brings me to the related concept of the hedonic treadmill. The hedonic treadmill (or hamster wheel) is a preset thermostat for your own intrinsic level of happiness.  So let’s say someone was wired to be generally unhappy from childhood. If that person wins the lottery and becomes instantly rich, there would be a momentary rush of happiness or a thrill, which over time would return back to your preset thermostat level of happiness.  Studies of lottery winners show that they don’t respond to ordinary situations or everyday events with an inflated level of bliss. The treadmill refers to how individuals are constantly spinning on a wheel where they seek outside pleasures, hoping that will somehow reset their thermostat to a higher level of happiness. “Maybe if I leave this job and join a start-up, run my own business, make more money, get a nicer car, or push my kids harder so I can live through their success, then I’ll be happier…” Angry, dissatisfied, unhappy, selfish people don’t all of a sudden become peaceful, happy, selfless individuals as a result of positive changes in their financial or personal situation.

The converse is also true: If you are wired to be happy and more resilient, then sudden adverse changes in your health or your finances may temporarily move your happiness levels lower, but then you snap back closer to your pre-programmed levels. Again, in my neck of the woods, there is a tremendous focus on constantly driving towards external goals to hopefully reset the thermostat.  This rarely ever works. As a matter of fact, it just creates sequentially greater and greater expectations that result in temporary highs, but then you’re back to your preset level of dissatisfaction. “All these years of hard work and sacrifice, yet I still feel like this.” Sound familiar? I’m by no means encouraging you to demotivate yourself or your kids, but for every moment you set a high goal, take time to appreciate all the surrounding moments, achievements, and gifts you take for granted. If you are pushing yourself or your loved ones towards external goals and setting higher and higher expectations while consistently sacrificing nutrition, exercise, sleep, social connection, nature connection, and mindfulness, then you are chaining yourself to the hedonic treadmill and not making progress towards a more fulfilling life.

I deliberately have learned to set really low expectations for most events and personal interactions in my life, and it really has made a huge difference for me.  If expectations are not met, no worries, and if they’re met or exceeded, then I feel joy and gratitude. Here are some tips that are seriously helpful when you find yourself faced with this issue:

1) Identify. Label rumination when it happens… “There I go ruminating again.”

2) Categorize. Be familiar with the common rumination movie themes you replay in your head like if-then, great expectations, and social comparisons.

3) Externalize. Grab some popcorn (a handful of nuts would be healthier!) and watch ruminating thoughts like a movie.

4) Detach and Distract. Rumination is sticky and it will pin you to your office chair, your couch or your bed, so you feel helpless and paralyzed.  You literally become a victim or prisoner of your own thoughts. Immediately detach yourself from your rumination environment and then positively distract yourself with exercise, reach out to a friend, read a book you enjoy, do something creative, get out into nature, etc.  Mondays are days I’m most susceptible to rumination and the simple act of working in a public place like a coffee house rather than in my solitary office makes a huge difference.

5) Be Present. Remember I said that ruminating about the past is linked to depression, while ruminations about the future are tied to anxiety.  The space in between is the present and mindfulness practices like meditation help bring you back to your center.

6) Pause and Reflect. Become the wise elder every now and then.  Ask yourself if you’re constantly running on the hedonic treadmill and forcing your family down a similar path.  Prioritize your mind and body and encourage those you love to do the same. Remember, you cannot reset your thermostat through incessant material pursuits and external goal achievements.

7) Get Help. For many, the rumination movies continue to dominate their lives despite using some of the above techniques.  There are past experiences and traumas that have become strongly embedded into our psyche and need to be addressed by a mental health professional.  Unfortunately, seeking help is often considered taboo to the very individuals and cultures that need it the most.

However, it’s a necessary step if you want to be able to break free from the things that no longer serve you, and the truth is, we ourselves are often to blame for the cages we find ourselves locked in. Usually, we are the ones who got ourselves there – so, therefore, we are also fully capable of getting ourselves out of whatever restraints and constraints that we’re currently facing.

TIMESTAMPS:

FOMO is fear of keeping up, fear of missing out. These conditions impact our health. [02:53]

Biochemical effects of the brain’s functioning show that all the cells of your body are affected by your thoughts.  [04:38]

Studies of lottery winners show that they don’t respond to ordinary situations with an inflated level of bliss. [05:32]

Individuals are constantly spinning on a wheel. [07:40]

People are striving to reset their happiness thermostat. [11:39]

Brad’s tips on overcoming the dangerous adverse consequences of FOMO are listed.  (1) is Identify. (2) categorize; (3) externalize; (4) detach and distract; (5) be present; (6) pause and reflect; [14:22]

Set an example for your kids with a healthy mindset. [17:58]

Social behaviors are contagious. [18:48]

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Get Over Yourself Podcast

Brad (00:00):
Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is author, an athlete, Brad Kearns, discovering ways to be healthy, fit, and happy in hectic, high-stress, modern life. So let’s slow down and take a deep breath. Take a cold plunge, and expertly balance that competitive intensity with an appreciation of the journey. That’s the theme of the show. Here we go.

Brad (02:53):
Here’s a Breather honoring the great work and the great show I did with Dr. Ron Sinha on a couple of his favorite topics. Remember, he’s the internal medicine physician working with the highly affluent population group employees of large Silicon Valley companies, and has been compelled to kind of expand his awareness, the nature of his practice beyond the, uh, blood pressure and the blood results to identify the destructive effects of rumination of FOMO, folk you fear of keeping up, fear of missing out, and how these psychological conditions impact actual physical health from a medical perspective. So he’s had to kind of, uh, change the way he works with his patients and address these things head on. Even in a, one of the most affluent work populations in the world, really, uh, employees in Silicon Valley make an average of 2.5 times the United States average.

Brad (03:59):
Uh, they live in million dollar homes, just routine starter homes. Uh, your basic, uh, is very expensive. Everything’s blown up. Uh, the explosion of wealth there makes even people who are doing really well and comfortable by any standard, uh, succumb to FOMO. So he has some great writing on his blog and I want to, uh, read some of this stuff and offer little commentary, some food for thought. Uh, his first concept that he discusses is called the hedonic treadmill, the hedonic treadmill, or you can call it a hamster wheel, is a preset thermostat for your own intrinsic level of happiness.

Brad (04:38):
And there’s some research suggesting that we have sort of a preset thermostat. Maybe we can work through it and change it, uh, but generally speaking, uh, some people might be wired to be unhappy, uh, dating back to childhood. Dr. Bruce Lipton, Biology of Belief suggests that our programming, most of all of our programming comes between the ages of zero and six. And this is when we’re an open book, a sponge. We learned about how to live our lives and how to behave and the example that are our peers or our parents set, and we’ve experienced trauma or difficulties during that time. Those things get hardwired in and they’re very difficult to escape these patterns, these thought patterns and these behavior patterns. So if you had a tough childhood, maybe you’re going to wire up for unhappiness and struggle for the rest of your days.

Brad (05:32):
Uh, noting that again, insight from Dr Lipton that we spend 93 to 97% of our time, uh, operating from the subconscious, replaying a flawed subconscious behavior patterns and thoughts, especially thoughts. Uh, 80% of our thoughts are the same as yesterday and 85% of those are negative. I’m not exactly on with those stats, but they’re extremely disturbing to think of that. And, uh, we have a whole show on that. So go, uh, listen to the insights from Biology of Belief. Uh, but back to Dr. Sinha’s work. Let’s say somebody was wired to be generally unhappy from childhood. If this person wins the lottery and becomes instantly rich, there would be a momentary rush of happiness or a thrill, but over time, predictably the person would return back to the preset thermostat level of happiness. Studies of lottery winners show that they don’t respond to ordinary situations or everyday events with an inflated level of bliss. Uh, we did some of the research for that and Keto for Life and Oh my gosh, the, uh, the data on lottery winners is very disturbing. So be careful what you wish for if you’re talking about if I won the lottery, this, if I won the lottery, that uh, they lose their friends very quickly, uh, they immersed into a different socioeconomic group that they’re not comfortable with or prepared for.

Brad (07:00):
So they feel isolated. Uh, there’s problems with the family. Obviously you can imagine sort of the mooch concept where all of a sudden you’re, uh, vastly, uh, you have vastly superior wealth to everyone around you, including close family members and they’re, Oh man. The, the, the things you have to navigate. Uh, there’s a high rate of divorce in the aftermath of winning the lottery. All kinds of stuff, disturbing the normal everyday happy, peaceful, routine life that we wish we could get out of. But maybe we should pause and reflect on the richness of the various experiences that we get to participate in.

Brad (07:40):
Anyway, the treadmill, the hedonic treadmill refers, this is back to dr [inaudible] quoting a refers to how individuals are constantly spinning on a wheel where they seek outside pleasures, hoping that will somehow reset their thermostat to a higher level of happiness. Oh my gosh. What does this remind you of? That’s right. My show on Dr Lustig’s work in his book, The Hacking of the American Mind. While we are just drawn to pursue these dopamine hits in daily life to the, uh, compromise of our ability to, uh, experience happiness and contentment and fulfillment, which are the serotonin pathways. And when you flood the dopamine pathways with instant gratification pleasures, you cut yourself off from the ability to experience that, the true most meaningful life of persevering through challenge and struggle and feeling good about yourself. We kind of just hijacked that. So this is a very aligned with the message that Dr. Sinha’s trying to convey here, uh, with hedonic treadmill quote from his article. Hey, maybe if I leave this job and join a startup, run my own business, make more money, get a nicer car, push my kids harder so I can live my life through their successes, then I’ll be happier.

Brad (09:00):
Doesn’t quite work out too well. Uh, angry, dissatisfied, unhappy, selfish people don’t all of a sudden become peaceful, happy, selfless individuals as a result of positive changes in their financial or personal situation. The converse is also true. If you’re wired to be happy and more resilient than sudden adverse changes in your health or your finances may temporarily move your happiness levels lower, but then you snap back closer to your pre-program levels. Interesting. Can any of us reference things in our own personal life? Uh, that light up here? Ah, personal, financial situation. I can definitely reference things if I start back in college when I lived on X amount per month and then probably, uh, lived on, uh, 10 times that, uh, what a couple of decades later and then maybe even increase that a decade after that. But guess what, if my mindset was the same, my financial worries and stresses were the same. Nothing changed.

Brad (10:04):
It just, there was a zero added on to the number, but I still pretty much had everything I wanted or needed, right? Most of us do. Uh, but also pretty much injected, uh, stress, anxiety, scarcity, all these emotions into the picture because I was trying to make ends meet. How f…ed up is that when you think about it? Right? And can we rewind the clock and go back and live on $600 a month instead of 6,000? Not too easy. No one would raise their hand and volunteer for that role. But is there something we can do with our mindset? Be grateful for what we have, no matter what it is or where we are today, and then work from that starting point. That’s a great insight that I got from Luke Story when he was talking about the, uh, the manifesting question, the process of manifesting and how to understand that properly.

Brad (10:55):
And he said, look, you hear these people talk about calling in the one and they envision a guy with a nice trim beard and he’s six one and he travels in a private jet and you’re going to call that person into your life and then you’re going to be happy. He goes, that’s not how it works. If that’s where you’re at, you’re going to get cut off from the forest, from the power that the manifestors believe to be true. Uh, so you want to be grateful for where you are right now and that’s your starting point. And then with great specificity and clarity, you can, uh, proceed to manifest other things in your life that you’re, uh, you’re clear about, right? But only when you’re happy and grateful from that starting point, if you think something outside of you is going to make you happy, you are going to suck at manifesting.

Brad (11:39):
Okay. So back to Dr. Sinha’s article, and he’s talking about in my neck of the woods in the wonderful Silicon Valley, there’s a tremendous focus on constantly driving towards external goals to hopefully reset this happiness thermostat. This rarely ever works. Remember people, this is the doctor that’s seeing these real people come into his office with adverse blood values and disease patterns, mainly because of their mindset. As a matter of fact, it just creates sequentially greater and greater expectations that result in temporary highs, but then you’re back to your preset level of dissatisfaction. Quote, all these years of hard work and sacrifice, yet I still feel like this end quote, does that sound familiar to anyone? Ah, look, I’m by no means encouraging you to de motivate yourself or your kids, but for every moment that you set a high goal, take time to appreciate all the surrounding moments, achievements and gifts you take for granted.

Brad (12:43):
And here’s a highlight quote that Ron thinks is super important. If you’re pushing yourself or your loved ones toward external goals and setting higher and higher expectations while consistently sacrificing nutrition, exercise, sleep, social connection, nature connection and mindfulness, then you are chaining yourself to the hedonic treadmill and not making progress toward a more fulfilling life. Here’s Dr. Sinha’s tip and trick in this area. He has learned to set really low expectations for most events and personal interactions in his life. And it has made a big difference. He says, if expectations are not met, no worries. And if they’re met or exceeded, then he feels the joy and gratitude. Oh man, love that stuff. And then sort of as a package to keep on the same show, uh, he gives these wonderful bullet point tips to overcome the negative health aspects of rumination. So I think rumination and FOMO I was going to say FOMO, rumination and FOMO are directly correlated. So this fear of missing out is usually coming through your mind and the associations that you make a comparisons to other people, things like that as you go through daily life trying to fricking enjoy yourself. But rumination keeps coming up, uh, re again, uh, replaying the past as a source of depression or, uh, stressing about the future as a source of anxiety.

Brad (14:22):
So here are some tips to overcome the dangerous adverse consequences of FOMO. Number one is identify. So when you experience rumination, you say you can even say out loud. Dr. Sinha Says, there I go. Ruminating again. Oh, there you go. Brad Pitt. Wishing you won the Oscar instead of someone else. Oh, you did win the Oscar. Congratulations. Okay, so label it.

Brad (14:52):
Number two, categorize. Be familiar with the common rumination movie themes you replay in your head. Like if then great expectations and social comparisons. Ah, so he’s labeled them, categorizing them. If then get it. If I could get that promotion, then I’d be happy. Great expectations. Hmm. So I guess we’re, uh, envisioning, uh, you being the life of the party at the upcoming gathering. And then, uh, it’s kind of not going out that well. So you get down on yourself, whatever. Okay. So those are the great expectations category. And then social comparisons. So simple and easy to transcend. If you just check yourself, forget that nonsense. Choose out, man. Choose a different, choose a different thought. Really? Huh? Okay.

Brad (15:42):
Third externalize. Grab some popcorn or a handful. And that’s would be healthier according to Dr Ron. And watch ruminating thoughts. Like you’re watching a movie. This was a beautiful insight that I first heard from a new age author, Dan Millman, author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. He said, to live your life as if you were watching a fantastic movie where it’s eliciting all this emotion, you’re crying, tears of sadness, tears of joy. You’re scared, you’re afraid, you’re excited. And then when the movie ends, you get up and walk out of the theater and go on with your life. And so if you can live your life in that same manner where maybe you are having a difficult emotional period, a personal or family crisis, you’ve got to deal with it. You’re watching the movie, you’re all in. Of course, you’re not denying or anything, but you wake up the next day, grateful to be alive, move on with your life. Don’t go back into rumination. Uh, the source of depression, ruminating about the past and don’t be anxious about the future. Okay? So that was externalized. Live your life like you’re watching a movie.

Brad (16:50):
Next, detach and distract. Rumination is sticky and it will pin you to your office chair, your couch, or your bed. To the extent that you feel helpless and paralyzed, you literally become a victim or a prisoner of your own thoughts. Immediately detach yourself from your rumination environment and then positively distract yourself with exercise, reaching out to a friend, reading a book you enjoy doing something creative, getting out into nature. What a great advice. Just get up and get moving. Man. Mondays, in Dr. Sinha’s example, are the days that he’s most susceptible to rumination. And so the simple act of working in a public place like a coffee house rather than a solitary office can make a huge difference. Oh, right. I love that. Take action.

Brad (17:42):
Next, be present. Recall that ruminating about the past is linked to depression. Ruminations about the future are tied to anxiety. The space in between is the present and mindfulness practices like meditation can help bring you back to your center.

Brad (17:58):
Next, pause and reflect. Become the wise elder every now and then. Ask yourself if you’re constantly running on the hedonic treadmill and forcing your family down a similar path. And in our podcast and in his writing, Dr Sinha does a great job conveying the very, very disturbing insight that we pass this shit on to our offspring people. So if we are ruminators and sufferers of FOMO and folk Q, our kids will internalize this stuff and become their little FOMO and folk Q people. Also. We don’t want that. We want to cut the ties and move on from that stuff. So be a role model. Set an example with your behavior as well as your mindset and your own thoughts knowing that people are watching. If you’re in that parenting role, Oh my gosh.

Brad (18:48):
And if not, if you’re talking about, uh, your peers as an adult, you can be a positive impact on your social circle or you can be a negative impact. Remember the Framingham study, the greatest, uh, the longest and most respected longitudinal study of health practices ever known. And the tracking of the residents of Framingham, Massachusetts, uh, thousands of medical research papers have come out of the Framingham study and they’ve also done some sociological stuff, uh, including, uh, discovering the idea that, uh, social behaviors are contagious, including things like happiness, including things like obesity. Uh, you could also speculate that things like rumination, FOMO and folk Q are socially contagious. After all, if social comparison is one of the categories, then Oh my gosh, when we’re interacting with our peers, maybe we can choose out of that, support each other in that goal rather than, uh, these nitpicks and these digs and these, uh, subversive competitiveness and all the things that we engage in, uh, to try to feel superior, to try to bring other people down.

Brad (19:57):
None of that stuff no more. Let’s go move on. So, uh, pausing and reflecting, being the wise elder, uh, you’re going to bring your family down a similar path and your friends. I’m going to add, uh, prioritize your mind and body and encourage those you love to do the same. Remember, you cannot reset your thermostat, your happiness thermostat through incessant material pursuits and external goal achievements. And the final bullet in Dr Sinha suggestions to overcome. Rumination is to get help for many the rumination movies continue to dominate their lives despite using some of the above techniques. These are past experiences and traumas that have become strongly embedded into our psyche and need to be addressed by a mental health professional member. Uh, Bruce Lipton, uh, conveys a few ways to kind of unwind the flawed, uh, subconscious programming and childhood traumas. And one of them was hypnosis.

Brad (20:56):
I think another one was, uh, mindfulness exercises. So you can do something about it even though these things are hugely embedded. So go see a mental health professional. Uh, unfortunately Dr. Sinha Says seeking help is often considered taboo to the very individuals and cultures that need it most. All right, so just take a step forward, advocate for yourself, do something about it, honor these tips. Again, it’s identify, categorize, externalize. That’s like watching the movie, detach and distract. Get up and move. Go somewhere else. Be present, right? That’s the cure for rumination. Really pause and reflect. Become the wise elder every now and then realize that you’re going to bring this shit to your family if you’re not careful and then finally get help.

Brad (21:42):
What a great show. Thank you so much for listening and go listen to my show with Dr Ron Sinha or look at his website, cultural health solutions.com Dodo, dah, dah, dah, dah.

Brad (21:57):
Thank you for listening to the show. We would love your feedback at getoveryourselfpodcast@gmail.com and we would also love if you could leave a rating and a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. I know it’s a hassle. You have to go to desktop, iTunes, click on the tab that says ratings and reviews, and then click to rate the show anywhere from five to five stars. And it really helps spread the word so more people can find the show and get over themselves cause they need to. Thanks for doing it.

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