Getting High is Good For You
“Next time, I’m gonna obliterate your world record on the long jump,” I told my buddy as we were leaving one of our favorite hot spots.
It was Wednesday night and we’d just finished another game of Track and Field at Up-Down—a Minneapolis Arcade Bar that features more than 50 video games, pinball machines, and other retro games from the ‘80s and ‘90s. And with the jukebox cranking out retro music to match your vibe, you’d swear you stepped into a time machine.
Playing retro video games while singing along to old favorite songs always leaves me feeling happy and high as a kite. And each time we leave Up-Down, it can take me hours to come back down to reality.
Know the feeling?
Think back to the last time you saw a really good movie that took you to another galaxy far, far away. Did you walk out of the theater in a different state of mind? Or how about after a really good concert—did you ride that high for hours or days afterwards?
That’s what I’m talking about.
Euphoric experiences can alter our reality and leave us feeling “high” afterwards—elevated, joyful, and even ecstatic. And a large part of this is due to the brain response.
My friend and colleague, Nancy Maxfield-Wilson, gave me more insight:
“Activities like laughter, sex, and breastfeeding stimulate a receptor in the brain to induce oxytocin secretion, called the bonding hormone. Oxytocin positively affects social connection, immune function, and possibly even wound healing. It decreases our sense of danger and relaxes social inhibitions.”
Whether or not oxytocin is being produced, we can be stimulated into an enjoyable state by simply being in environments of high energy, excitement, and fun. Simple activities like birthday parties, playing board games, and watching sports can induce high-flying feelings. Even putting ourselves in (vertically) high places can significantly affect our emotions, like my 2,000+ foot ascent up the Manitou Incline in Colorado—hence the term, “Rocky Mountain High.”
Being high can also affect our relationships with others. When we’re high and happy, our energy can be contagious and cause a ripple effect on those around us. We can tell when someone’s having a good day: They appear cheerful, bubbly, and optimistic—we can literally see it written all over their face.
Feeling low? Here a few tips to help get you high and feeling better more often:
Follow the fun. When was the last time you really had fun? Kids are having fun all the time. Taking time for fun shouldn’t disappear from our schedules when we become adults. We all need to engage in activities that allow us to play and activate different portions of the brain that help us feel better. In fact, having fun is essential to our health.
Pay attention. What gets you high? Enjoy reading a good book? Love scary movies? Crazy about live music? Then do those things more often. Find the activities that get you high and make a commitment to putting them on the calendar. The same applies to people. Being high with someone else is always more fun, so make it a priority to spend more time with people who lift you up.
Get up and get out. While staying at home or in the office can help us stay focused, we also need to leave the comfort of our environments to get fresh air and a new perspective on a regular basis. Simply leaving the house or getting up from our desk and starting to move can have significant health benefits. Plus, getting outside reminds us that Mother Nature is always ready to provide us with a natural high whenever we’re ready.
Try meditation. There is a stream of natural well-being that is always flowing to us and through us. Quieting the mind allows us to reconnect to this natural flow on a more consistent basis, leading to reduced stress and feelings of peace and acceptance. This can significantly lift our spirits. Remember that even something as simple as walking can be a form of meditation. Be creative! Just be quiet and willing to tap into the calm rhythm within.
Look for the laughter. The multiple benefits of laughter have been documented for years. Laughing with friends strengthens connections and builds trust. Along with emotional relief, laughing creates physiological changes in the body. Whether it’s watching a video or laughing with friends, opportunities to laugh more often can always get us higher and happier.
So keep getting high! It helps your body and mind stay happier and healthier. And if you’re still struggling to find your own ways to get high, then link up with others who’ve found theirs. Being around pleasant people who get you high gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Know a guy?”
Actually, yes, I do.
Michael Thomas Sunnarborg gets high helping people maintain balance during transitions in their work, relationships, and life. Learn more at michaelcreative.com
Enjoyed this article? Find more of Michael’s stories, insights, and life lessons in Bald Men Don’t Use Hairspray and Other Assumptions, now available on Amazon. More information at michaelcreative.com/books