Updated: Mar 3, 2021
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“Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention.”
- Paul Dolan
Happiness is relative, so I don’t claim to know the absolute truth about what makes everyone happy. However, I do want to share with you some of the things in my life that unleashed a sense of richness and happiness, and the role microdosing played on that.
A couple of years back, my life was a different one. I went through life half asleep, with only a vague idea of what kindled my spirit, and a strong need to control the way my life was supposed to turn out. I was desperately trying to fulfill my parents’ vision of a happy and successful life: job stability, a certain income, family, kids.
All the expectations embedded within convinced me that once I would feel happy once I achieved it all. Little did I know that my priorities were skewed as I was living for someone else.
When I found psychedelics, the first thing that struck me was how I felt about the little things - how excited I was about nature, about the human experience in general, about our role as humans in the world’s evolution. But it also showed me just how little I cared about status, people’s opinion about me, or fulfilling my family’s desire for a stable life.
I knew I found a sort of attunement to what truly spoke to me, and I paid attention to it.
To me, happiness is having a sense of purpose in my life, as well as experiencing moments of pleasure on a daily basis. So I started paying attention, to my thoughts and their patterns, to how people and situations resonated in my body, and others around me.
The process of paying attention, being present, and discovering all these little things was enjoyable and fulfilling. It truly blew my mind.
Microdosing and Being Present
Psychedelics facilitate access to our true selves and emotions. It helps us attune to others and the environment around us.
If you were to take a peek at what happens in our brains while on psychedelics, you would see that there is a reduction in activity in neural networks that are in charge of our default unconscious thinking. This allows us to act and think less from our automatic self.
A study published in April 2016 by The Beckley Foundation, shows how LSD decreases communication between the brain regions that make up the Default Mode Network (DMN). The DMN is the network that helps us construct a sense of self and the role we play in the world. It is the main neural network that constructs our ego, as well as the separation between us and the world.
This is a necessary process that encompasses our point of view, our filters, the narratives about ourselves, the way we feel about situations, people, and events. All these processes are happening unconsciously, and they manifest in the way we respond to situations and people around us. While the DMN’s importance is unquestionable in systemizing information and allowing us to be efficient in navigating day-to-day life, it is also what puts us on automatic pilot, and we miss out on things that are happening all around us.
When macrodosing psychedelics, the mind expands. What was already present, but invisible to us, comes to the forefront. We make new connections and have epiphanies about our lives. This happens because the DMN quiets down on psychedelics, and other areas in your brain that were not communicating before, start talking to each other.
The immediate effect is a mental openness to everything and a sense of awe and wonder. On an emotional level, we start feeling all the feelings, the good the bad, and the ugly (if you are having a bad trip), and life becomes richer. We attune to our inner, deeper emotional self.
When microdosing, these insights can be brought into our lives again. We become more aware and attuned when we are no longer on autopilot. We are more present.
Being aware of the life surrounding me, the people passing by, the emotional richness embedded in every second; helped me gain a sense of belonging, of beauty in life’s chaos. It allowed me to let go of my need to control. Paying more attention to myself in relation to others put me in touch with sides of myself I never knew existed. It also helped me attune to my body and the emotions residing within.
Thanks to microdosing, the way I navigate life has changed. I no longer start my day feeling like I’m on default mode, always on the go. I have learned to slow down, to pay attention, and to allow new experiences in my life, even while doing something mundane. For "a wandering mind is not a happy mind" (for more info, see this study).
In the mornings, I take a moment to appreciate the sunrise and see all its colors. I stopped listening to music on my way to work to allow for random, amusing conversations with others on the bus, reveling in the beauty of human interactions. I pay attention to my bodily sensations, like how the wind creeps in under my clothes and gives me goosebumps. I pay attention to how things around me resonate in my body, where I feel the emotions.
Life is full of emotions, full of wonderful things to explore and get curious about. Paying attention and reflecting upon life is a gift humans were given, but so often take for granted. The human experience is rich and sometimes overwhelming, but it is nonetheless exciting.
Whatever you think your purpose is on this Earth, you can’t accomplish it if you shield yourself from it. Dive into the deep end and pay attention to how it feels. It can give you the insights and strength you need to carry on with your life’s mission, and also enjoy the smallest things in life.