This simple, emphatic text was sitting in my WhatsApp box this morning:
No more needed said. A close friend has been working on a massive creative project for the past 3+ years. Blinders-on, head-down mode has been le rigueur since early 2021; behind schedule, under fire, and digging hard. I could almost feel his endorphin flood when tapping that final period of the last sentence of his closing chapter. YES!
Endorphins are hormones in our brains; large molecule neuropeptides that temper pain and lighten our moods when stressed out. Open that valve wide enough and a sense of euphoria sweeps over us like a Hokusai wave. It feels amazing and has a lot of health benefits to boot. Google it.
Exercise can provoke endorphins into action. The runners’ high, yeah, that’s it. So can a burst of laughter or a slow hot bath (or for that matter slow hot sex, reportedly). These activities hit the pleasure buttons hard, which release our peptide friends and make us feel even better. A virtuous up-cycle. Oh yeah, give me more of that!
The easiest avenues to endorphin nirvana come through acts of achievement, ours and with those in our love circle. Parenting offers plenty of moments: opening a near perfect report card or watching your child accept a diploma in her cap and gown (their pride is our joy; I get weepy). Work too can be fertile ground: learning that you just earned a hard-sought promotion or year-end bonus; getting the news that a new client (the one you’ve been jumping through hoops to woo) is coming on board; passing your CPA exam or the state bar after months of study.
At some point post midlife our kids graduate to their own lives, we retire from core careers, and slow hot sex becomes less common (reportedly). The need for regular endorphin boosts remains acutely important for emotional wellbeing, however. What to do, what to do?✓
There are plenty of natural-high options outside of kids and work, of course, but not through the usual pleasure activities associated with retirement: boozy golf outings, vacation cruises, trips to see the grandkids. These things can make us feel happy, but a vitamin E BANG! tends to come from the big moments of achievement as mentioned above.
So how do you catch that buzz? The good news is the opportunities are endless. Flow-inducing activities are prime ground, throwing your natural strengths and passions into projects of real challenge. My brother bought a crumbling french estate and built it into a stunning countryside showcase, mostly through his own labor. My friend Laura joined a sailboat racing crew in the Caribbean. Oh, she also started a school for elementary kids in Haiti, a challenge on an entirely different level!
Artistic endeavors offer all the key conditions for massive endorfic (made up word) release. They demand an intense amount of concentration and effort, then a moment of exhausted, exhilarating completion. Most creatives love the journey but surely look forward to the IT’S DONE! finale. When the last brush stroke is applied, the final period punctuated, or recording production mixed and mastered. These types of moments provide emancipation from a deeply rewarding but all-consuming journey of love.
At my side hustle the Interprize Group we embolden people to pursue audacious life ambitions of deep personal meaning. We’ll get you mainlining the endorphin buzz. Reach out to learn more, or just swing by Provence for week. I’ll get you sorted.