Arts Entertainments

Intoxicated with happiness

Recently, there has been a lot of publicity about the dangers of texting, talking on the phone, posting, and taking selfies while driving. On April 24, 2014, a young woman from North Carolina posted on Twitter how happy she was hearing Happy Song on the radio. A minute later there was an emergency call. He had gotten into the wrong lane while posting and collided head-on with a waste management truck. The car went off the road and caught fire. When help arrived, she was dead.

While everyone wants happiness, sometimes your level of euphoria can become so high that you lose your ability to reason. It creates the same effect as alcohol or drugs, where the brain’s pleasure center is stimulated and the brain’s reasoning centers don’t work as well. Although the effect is much less intense than that of alcohol or drugs, it disrupts reasoning.

The brain has chemicals that make you feel good. Serotonin is the chemical that allows you to feel good even when nothing exciting is happening. Dopamine puts you in a happy stupor when you’ve just received good news. That is not a bad thing. norepinephrine turns you on and makes you happy. Some people who are deficient in these chemicals need antidepressant medications.

When you are very happy and excited, these chemicals are released in greater amounts than usual. It can create a decrease in your reasoning ability. Suddenly, you feel like the laws of nature don’t apply to you. For example, you don’t have to drive properly, study for a test, or do something that is a nuisance. Feelings are addictive, so you don’t want to stop feeling so high and go back to your duties. A basic example would be when you go out to lunch with a friend, you have a great time but then let out a sigh when you switch your thoughts back to the afternoon work schedule.

You might ask, “So I should never be very happy for us to survive, who wants to do that?” No, the trick is to keep thinking and realize that you can return to your euphoria later. When you are doing something that requires concentration, being present in your effort is a form of quiet happiness. Even if you drive on the same road every day, driving on it and concentrating on your driving is not only good sense, but you always feel happy when your mind is in the present moment. You can feel good about your good news again. If you’re happy with a song on the radio, you’ll do well enjoying it now and texting your friends only when you reach your destination. You will live, both literally and figuratively.

When you feel an intense emotion, whether happy or unhappy, your lower brain is activated and your upper brain (cerebral cortex) is not as active. Alcohol and drugs intensify this. That is why it is important to focus and think when doing an activity. Capture the feeling of happiness when the task is done and enjoy it safely.

Finally, in writing this I am not condemning the woman who died in the accident. Everything that happens makes sense. His death is significant in that it may make others aware of the dangers of texting and driving. It can save lives.

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