Author: Dr. Gary Huber

What colors you decide to paint your experience with will decide your happiness and your health.

Do you remember the movie starring Jim Carrey called "Liar, liar" ? In the movie the character was a compulsive liar incapable of telling the truth. I think he must have worked for one of the commercial airlines. I don't want to make light of any one airline but there is one that begins with a "D" and ends with an "elta" that seems to have little or no understanding of open communication. It literally took this particular airline a full 24 hours to get me from Las Vegas back home to Cincinnati. I am telling this story not to vent (well maybe a little) but to illustrate a point about stress.


A scientist by the name of Hans Selye did the original studies in the 1940’s on stress and the body's stress response. We secrete more cortisol, the stress hormone, under times of distress. He found that if he wanted to drive the strongest cortisol response in his test animals he had to put them in a situation where there was "no hope". For example swimming in a tank of water where there are only 2 options - keeping swimming or drown. Now that is real stress.


All too often though we generate stress when there doesn't need to be any or at least not as much. Yesterday when I was trapped in an airplane sitting on the tarmac for 2 hours I felt "stuck" and certainly did not feel much hope. The announcements kept coming every 15 minutes that we would be taking off in just 15 minutes. And then at the 15 minute mark another message would state "we will be getting ready to taxi in 15 minutes", followed by nothing. This went on for 2 hours, feeling trapped and lied to and feeling no sense of hope.


But that's really kind of silly isn't it? I mean, I really didn't expect to starve to death or waste away to nothing on the tarmac of a Las Vegas airport. Surely a Vegas showgirl would magically appear with a large feathered fan and a cocktail and rescue me. But isn't it all too common that we elevate the nature of a simple frustration and multiply it into a cataclysmal event that is a near death experience? We are the authors of our own destiny and not just the destiny that awaits us 10 years from now but our current minute by minute destiny. We have the power to define or redefine what any set of circumstances truly mean.


My situation although inconvenient was not REALLY a big deal. I had an opportunity to see it as a huge imposition or I could, if I wanted to, take it as an opportunity to sit back and relax with no expectations and simply enjoy the free time to do nothing. Or read a book, or even meditate. I could choose to send my cortisol thru the roof and elevate my blood pressure accomplishing nothing, or I could choose to see it as an unexpected detour into a little quiet time.


I only share this because on a daily basis we all make choices and decisions about what something "means". We get the luxury of choosing or as I like to say color what any set of circumstances means to us. Depending on the crayons we select to color that picture we are either driving our cortisol up and our lives out of control or maybe just perhaps we choose to color our picture with lighter more happy colors and find the peace in any situation and drive our physiology in a better direction.


I spent 20 years working as an Emergency Room physician and so I truly know what an emergency looks like. I have stood bedside and watched death and trauma change lives. But 99.9999% of the stuff you and I deal with on a daily basis does not have the right to be called an emergency. It doesn't have the right to cause us stress or elevate our cortisol unless we give it permission. It's our choices and our crayons that will decide our health. So as you go thru the day and you find yourself with that familiar sense of frustration or anger STOP. Just stop and ask yourself a simple question. Is there a lighter, kinder, gentler interpretation that I might assign to this current set of circumstances? Could I choose to see this differently if I really wanted to? Is there benefit to me and others if I could find a calmer path?


Tick tick my friends, our lives are spilling out and each day is precious. Far too precious to waste feeling upset. Make your goal to have a ready smile grace your face most of the day and you will find more peace and satisfaction in each moment. Add all of those moments up and you will have the life you always wanted, one full of peace and joy.


I have my pinks and yellows out and my laptop has never looked prettier.