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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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May 14, 2014

How to Get High on Life: 10 Natural Ways to Feel on Top of the World

By Mark Sisson
93 Comments

TranscendenceMany of society’s favorite psychoactive compounds, both legal and illegal, work by hijacking our own neurotransmitters and brain receptor sites. In other words, they aren’t creating something out of nothing nor are they necessarily imposing an alien influence. They only work because our brains are set up to get high and feel pleasure.

Why does pleasure exist? Pleasure is the carrot dangled by the body to get us to do the things we need to survive and prosper. It helps us reach important survival goals. But we’re not ascetics. Experiencing and appreciating pleasure as its own entity is necessary for true happiness and life contentment. Our genes expect us to feel good, not just do the tasks that feeling good compels us to complete.

So today I’m going to tell you how to get high and hit these pleasure centers, Primal style. If that sounds like it involves a shaman, some cactus cuttings, and monotonous chanting over a fire, I don’t blame you. That’s absolutely one way to get high and it’s probably similar to how Grok did it, but this isn’t an ayahuasca recipe post, a review of peyote churches, or a guide to “Choosing the Right Fat-Busting Entheogen For Your Body Type.” This is a post discussing the ways our bodies can naturally achieve mind-blowing, consciousness-expanding levels of elation and euphoria.

Exercise

It’s popularly known as the runner’s high, but you don’t have to run to feel high from exercise. The best known, mother of all natural highs can have you skimming the clouds. Its soaring yet soothing effects are some of the reasons I stuck with endurance training for so long despite the other negative effects it was having. The latest research indicates that the high is probably mediated by two endogenous chemicals: beta-endorphin, an endogenous opioid involved in pain reduction and relaxation; and anandamide, an endocannabinoid responsible for pain reduction and euphoria.

The exercise high probably influenced human evolution, helping promote the highly active lifestyle necessary to dominate the environment. When the going got tough (like when a saber tooth tiger was right on their heels or when they were chasing down dinner), euphoria and pain reduction would have been invaluable.

Studies indicate that it takes about an hour of endurance training for beta-endorphins to release, whereas short-term anaerobic training produces significant levels of the opioid (the more intense the better). In another study, an acute bout of Olympic weightlifting caused elevations in beta-endorphin. This was low-volume resistance training, no more than ten or fifteen seconds of actual honest work, but the intensity was high enough to provoke the exercise high. Overall, it’s high intensity anaerobic work that produces the biggest endorphin rush. As for the endocannabinoids, intensity is key there, too.

Group Workouts

Just as exercise itself can spur a euphoric state, exercising with others may offer a different and arguably better high. One study found that rowers’ pain thresholds were greater after training as a team than after working out alone. Since pain sensitivity is a marker of endorphin release, the group workouts produced more of a high. In another study, players engaged in a high-pressure soccer shootout enjoyed bursts of oxytocin, the “love hormone,” after celebrating. Not only that, but the oxytocin surges were contagious across teammates, bringing them closer to each other and strengthening bonds.

The more our ancestors enjoyed working together, the better their chances of surviving. This may be why CrossFit is so popular, and it’s one more reason to take up Ultimate Frisbee (my personal favorite of course), join that basketball league, or convince a buddy to do some sprint competitions. Check back tomorrow for more on group workouts.

Extreme Sports

Whether it’s bungee jumping, mountain climbing, snowboarding, cliff diving, sky diving, or base jumping, some of us flock to extreme sports like moths to the flame. The appeal is obvious (even if you don’t personally subscribe to it): extreme sports place the body into remarkably stressful situations. It’s physical exercise, yes, but it’s also mental exercise. When you’re leaping from a cliff or plane, your lizard brain thinks you very well may die. The result is a rush of powerful hormones, including adrenaline, dopamine, and beta-endorphins (which correlate closely with reports of euphoria). Your heart works harder and faster, sending more blood, more quickly to the muscles as well as the brain. Your senses are heightened. Time slows down. Moments linger longer than ever before. It’s all a stop-gap mechanism to help you survive the situation.

Even if you’re not a mindfulness practitioner, extreme sports will force you to savor the moment. Dangerous situations – perceived or real – tend to have that effect. There’s the afterglow, too. After the hormonal explosion has abated and you’re back on solid ground, you’ll feel calm and accomplished and carefree. Stress melts and stays away, because what can compare with flinging oneself off a mountain into open air?

You hear talk of “adrenaline junkies,” as if snowboarders and base jumpers and free climbers are little more than healthy meth addicts – and I think that’s the wrong way to describe what we’re doing out there. What we’re drawn to is the intense, hyper-real focus and awareness that our body produces as a response to the incredible insanity of the situation. It’s not about the risk itself as much as a testing of skill against the very immediate, potent backdrop of survival.

You’re somehow never as in touch with life as you are when you’re walking the edge of it. Was that a Bon Jovi lyric? It should have been.

Spicy Food

Think of the spiciest food you ever ate. I’m not talking Tapatio, Tabasco, or Cholula here. I mean the kind of hot that makes you anxious and queasy and regretful.

The kind of spicy that would make a WAPFer chug the nearest glass of ultra-pasteurized A1 beta-casein skim milk to quell the burn. Maybe it was a lamb curry or a Jamaican jerk sauce. Maybe you got caught up in a chile-eating contest in Tijuana. Whatever it was, you never forget what it felt like or how much you wanted to take a fire hose to your insides. And I bet you felt something else when you ate it, not just the heat on your tongue. Didn’t you?

Although the more sensitive among us might have simply been scarred for life by the heat, others who have ventured deep into that hot terrain tell tales of a much mellower after effect, a uniquely pleasurable calm. Chili heads, as they’re known, are experts in this spice-induced serenity. They’ve grown to love the heat from start to finish.

There’s no strong, incontrovertible evidence that eating hot food has psychoactive effects in humans, though some animal evidence suggests that capsaicin (the main spicy component in peppers) can release beta-endorphins and adrenaline. It also has analgesic properties which may be mediated by activation of the central opioid system. Still, there’s usually a physiological justification for odd human behavior. If people are happily eating food that literally burns their mouths and insides, there’s a good chance there’s something in it for them. I suspect that the pain gives way to pleasure, and that cool pool of biochemical pleasure afterward is indeed the result of endorphin release. After the pain/danger has dissipated, an intense calm pervades.

I’m a believer. One morning in Thailand, I met a young backpacker staying at the same place we were. I was in the common area looking for coffee. He was dumping a sack of red powder into a small glass of water. He mixed it together and tossed it back, making a face reminiscent of a teen trying cheap gin for the first time. Turns out he was taking shots of powdered Thai chiles. Said it was better than coffee and offered me a shot. I accepted, of course. It was about two teaspoons of powdered chile (about as hot as cayenne; not to be confused with chili powder) in a couple ounces of water. I took it, shot it, and probably made the same face he did, but it woke me up. It may have been placebo (though I wasn’t expecting much), but I swear I felt buzzed, really calm yet energized for an hour or two after. I’m a longtime fan of spicy food and can take it pretty hot, so your mileage may vary. Exercise caution.

Love

Falling in love is the ultimate high in most people’s book. You’re at times an utter (albeit blissful) fool who’s checked half his/her brain at the door or the pinnacle of confidence and contentment skimming along life, undeterred by any burden or barrier.

And damn, does it feel good. A review of studies demonstrates that no less than twelve different brain regions are activated by the cascade of chemicals like dopamine, adrenaline, vasopression, serotonin, and oxytocin when we fall in love. Endorphins and PEA (the chocolate/love drug) also play a big role in the neurochemistry of love. As a result, we feel happy and dopey. Confused and excited. Anxious and confident. We’re a mess, basically, a hastily thrown together assortment of neurochemicals all vying for agency. But you can’t wipe that grin off your face when you’re in the thick of it, can you?

What if you’re already settled down with someone? What if that heady blast of new love has long since passed?

Value your relationship. Nurture it, feed it. Spoil your partner, act like it is the early days. Experience them in the fullest possible way. Recall those initial romantic days and do it over again. Relish good memories. Make new ones. In a couple words: be present.

Nature

Most of us are so divorced from our ancestral home – the natural outdoor environment – that leaving the city and going where the cell towers don’t reach feels like entering an altered state of consciousness. Probably because our consciousness has changed. I know when I’m out there, whether it’s at a secluded beach, deep in the redwoods, or alone on a snowy mountaintop, I feel different. I notice new things. My brain works better. I’m high by virtue of eliminating the extraneous sensory clutter of the city.

Sex

Having sex releases a torrent of endogenous drugs, hormones and neurotransmitters so expansive that Hunter S. Thompson and William Burroughs would raise an eyebrow. During arousal, your body secretes the powerful stimulants adrenaline and noradrenaline. Your heart is racing, your blood pressure rises, all in the service of delivering extra blood to various important body parts. Upon climax, your bloodstream is treated to an intoxicating cocktail of prolactin, oxytocin (a.k.a. cuddle time), phenethylamine (levels of this love and chocolate chemical peak at orgasm), and dopamine (care of primal reward system for all around opiate-induced bliss). During male ejaculation, the (male’s) brain apparently lights up like a heroin user’s right after shooting up, indicating a major role for opioids. Neuroimaging studies on women during orgasm also reveal significant activation of the brain’s pleasure centers.

One more thing: everyone focuses on the orgasm, but don’t forget to savor the journey. Take your time with the foreplay and the actual act of sex. You’ll arrive eventually, no need to rush it.

Music

We’ve all heard – or performed – music that has left us with goose bumps and chills. We’re utterly struck by it, held by it, entranced and touched in such a deep way that we feel moved physically and spiritually. I always think of a concert Carrie and I took in some years ago – a choral performance that ended with a piece so piercing and transcendent that it took my breath away. The hairs on my neck and arms stood up and I was swept up in some collective out of body experience. To this day, listening to the piece catapults me back in time and I feel it in my gut.

Science has confirmed the existence of the euphoric music-induced “chills.” Researchers asked participants to choose music that gave them the “chills” each time they heard or played it. Then they allowed subjects to listen to the music while they monitored their brain activity with PET imaging. (In other parts of the experiment, they listened to other peoples’ musical selections or general noise.) Each participant’s chosen music, the researchers found, exclusively produced activity in brain areas associated with “euphoria-inducing stimuli, such as food, sex, and drugs of abuse.” 

The researchers suggest that as humans evolved they developed the ability to experience euphoria from more abstract activities like music. Although unnecessary for hard scrabble survival, music likely contributed to social bonding and the cohesion of human communities, which in turn aided survival. Music is also a way to tap into the rhythm underlying life itself. You won’t find any clinical trials, but there’s real music happening right under our noses every single day. Musicians just reveal it.

Dream

Remember how you’d hang out at night with your friends, looking up at the stars, just thinking and talking about how immense and crazy and impossible and possible everything is? Remember when you were filled with wonder? Dreaming is one thing that still gets to me and makes me feel like a kid again. Best of all, we have direct access to it. It’s the great mystery that we get to explore every single night of our lives.

Every night, we enter a fantastical world of our own creation. In this world, time is relative; we can live out entire lifetimes in the span of a single sleep cycle. We become artists, novelists, world-builders and storytellers that put Tolkien, Spielberg, George RR Martin, and Salvador Dali to shame. And we get to live and breathe and act in those worlds as if they were real. It’s amazing.

What’s going on here, chemically? Some researchers think that our brains release very small amounts of dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a powerful psychedelic compound, during sleep. That certainly seems plausible.

Humor

Laughter’s a funny thing. It’s contagious. The very act of producing the muscular contractions responsible for laughter release beta-endorphins. And there’s nothing like a belly laugh. The weirdest part of all is that it has a mind of its own and cannot be tamed. If something is really, truly funny, you’re going to laugh and there’s not a thing you can do about it. You know how it is – we all have that memory that makes us laugh just thinking of it. Or that friend in class who could get you to laugh just by glancing at you? Or how about the uncontrollable ten minute laughing fit that turns into an ab workout and feels like you’re possessed by a surprisingly lighthearted demon? It’s insane, in a good way.

Laughter yoga shows that laughter can be consciously performed without anything funny happening and it will still have a positive impact. You can in effect fake it till you make it. But that’s not very funny and I’d suggest going for the real deal. Head out on the town with your funniest friend or kick back with the movie or TV show that makes you laugh until your face hurts.

Thanks for reading today, everybody. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Additions, thoughts, amusing anecdotes? What are your favorite Primal highs?

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93 Comments on "How to Get High on Life: 10 Natural Ways to Feel on Top of the World"

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Naomi
2 years 4 months ago

I LOVE this list!!!! Never thought about spicy food in this way before. Maybe I should incorporate more into my life!? 😉

Stevemid
Stevemid
2 years 4 months ago

My wife loves laughter yoga – I attempt yoga and she laughs.

Sean
Sean
2 years 4 months ago

LOLd!!

Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
2 years 4 months ago

With or without the yoga pants?

Groktimus Primal
2 years 4 months ago

This post is a reminder that we suppose to be connected to and high on life rather than numbed by it or high on synthetic substances and experiences as so many seem to be.

Vince G
Vince G
2 years 4 months ago

A serious post by Groktimus? How sobering!

tom LI
tom LI
2 years 4 months ago
You fail to realize that many people, are genetically predisposed to seeking those substances, once exposed to them. I may be one of them, and while all the above suggestions as to how to get a Life High are on the top of my list of Must Do’s- the lure of those other substances never leaves me, and many timesthose listed in this posting never get me there…most especially exercise. Being very fit means the endorphin dump can be hard to reach…and if a workout goes off the rails for whatever reason, too many clueless people on the track, walkers… Read more »
barbara
barbara
2 years 4 months ago
Interesting post. Very, for me. I would love to know if you felt better without any craft beer over a period of several days? I always thought I was one of that substance people, and I used to drink too much wine over years. Slightly depressive I was, too, don’t know if the egg was first or the hen. With the paleo30 in November I stopped alcohol for a month. After some days it was like a 24/7 high, waking up happy at four am (in wintertime) and not knowin what to do with all that energy. I even started… Read more »
Pdawg
Pdawg
2 years 4 months ago

Currently doing a whole 30 and I am amazed at how good I feel. Guess it was that last bit of sugar (dairy and dark chocolate for me) that needed to go. I really miss my kerrygold butter. Ghee isn’t the same. It’s a catch 22 because I’m glad I am feeling better but I sure liked being primal as opposed to paleo. Think this is a new way of life for me.

tom LI
tom LI
2 years 4 months ago
I can go a week or more without the beer, and the other, and all I might notice when picked up again is a headache from the beer. Part of the relaxation effect is likely placebo-like…and a lot of it is ritualistic. When I know I will partake, the anticipation, the choosing the brand, the opening, the pour, and the first glass and taste…all combine to “create” the relaxing effect. I try not to be mindless about it, and just reach into the fridge and start swilling cold beer. But to look at it like a treat. I’m not a… Read more »
EnglishRose
EnglishRose
2 years 4 months ago
This is the thing. Those of us who have come off sugar (which also gives a temporary high) and then a crash are a bit reluctant to seek new highs as they come with lows. I am not saying don’t exercise but some people need more and more (just as you need more and more cacao or sugar or heroine or alcohol to achieve the same effects over time) and a good few women in particular get hooked and become obsessive with exercise. So I would suggest people integrate it into their lives, walk or run in forests, run for… Read more »
Rich
Rich
2 years 4 months ago
I understand what you mean about the substances that produce a high. I’ve tripped out more times than I care to count. The problem is the negatives of some of these substances, if used too much. The mind becomes “tolerant” and needs more and more. That’s the problem. Natural highs do not seem to be tolerated anywhere near as quickly as the “substance induced” highs. I was really messed up for a long time after a mind-shattering trip. It’s things like ego-death, the dissolution of time, and all the solid things melting that upset me greatly. So now I avoid… Read more »
tom LI
tom LI
2 years 4 months ago
Agreed, too much – of a lot things mind altering is not good. I try and use temperance in how I make my choices. Never tripped more’n twice, not my thing, and pharmaceuticals always scared me. Instinct kept me away, and some bad bone breaks and the morphine drips. Aye! I wish I was so optimistic about the future. Its a fascinating topic, too big and “deep” for this thread. But IMO, we’re the last vestigaes of the Clean, healthy food, and behavior Culture…maybe we got another ten decent years…the industry can’t sustain itself in these downward income economies, where… Read more »
Sebastijan Veselic
2 years 4 months ago

This is an excellent post. You’ve really hit the nail with this one as far as the psycho-social components of a healthy life go

Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
2 years 4 months ago

Re; spicy food and wanting to take a hose to your insides–to cool the fire (if you should ever want to), water is THE LEAST effective thing you can use. FAT is what does the job–cheese, full-fat milk products, coconut oil, meat fat, MCT oil, mayo, etc.

Don’t believe me? Try it yourself next time you’re inclined to down some ultra-hot peppers, out-of-control hot sauce, or curry that makes you blurry.

2Rae
2Rae
2 years 4 months ago

I will try it, thank you. Nothing is like the roller coaster ride of Wasabi, you spend nanoseconds wondering if you were absolutely mad at that big of a bite of it to only think “I gotta do THAT again” right afterwards..

Vanessa
Vanessa
2 years 4 months ago

I love wasabi, especially when followed up with a swig of soda, when all those bubble pop in my nose. Cheap thrills, I know.

Carl
Carl
2 years 4 months ago

Spicy food can definitely trip you out – on my first date with my now wife we had curry and I inadvertently ate a whole chilli, and felt very spaced out. In her words I was “acting strangely”…probably a combination of nerves and unusual stimulus. But overall not a bad experience and all turned out well

Stephen
2 years 4 months ago

Most people think that music performers crave the applause or attention afterwards. Many musicians, though, are just as excited about the feeling they get while performing than the audience’s response. There’s something about being in a state of flow and being in the moment that makes music performance a natural high.

Vince G
Vince G
2 years 4 months ago

Indeed. I would say it is the act of creating tangible emotion… and, in most cases, the interaction with other musicians. Once that first note happens, it’s just a whole new world. However, the reciprocal nature of the energy between the crowd and band has a lot to do with it as well. I know we ALWAYS play better when the crowd is into it.

meepster
meepster
2 years 4 months ago

Yes, same here. Something about the audience’s energy, mixing with your own energy. I especially love watching people dance to our music. To me, making good music is about giving something to the audience – not just playing for yourself.

As a solo performer, too, I really feel the audience’s energy and feed off of that in my own performance. I put in so much more emotion and feeling and meaning when the audience is into it.

tom LI
tom LI
2 years 4 months ago

So true. A few of my good musician friends often tell me that they barely notice the audience when the band is in the groove. As a super music fan, when a band hits that groove, and I’m there to witness it…its transcending. Its just me and the band the groove.

C L Deards
2 years 4 months ago

Yep, making the music is the high. I remember that from my cello-playing days.

I think most creative arts are the same way. When you’re in the groove a natural high seems to accompany the act. That’s been my experience with creative writing.

granny gibson
granny gibson
2 years 4 months ago

I agree that jamming with friends and being so totally in sync that we’re one person is the drug that makes us drop everything and get together. It’s not simply that we like to see each other, but the music we’re making.

Rich
Rich
2 years 4 months ago

Hi Steven,

Yes, quite true.

I worked as a radio operator back in the Morse Code days. I can tell you I got high as a kite sending and receiving long messages in Morse Code!

I was a commercial shipboard operator and could not get enough of it.

To this day, if I’m down, receiving high-speed Morse really relaxes me. Gets you in the zone where you have no negative thoughts.

It’s an art form, and it’s all about reveling in your art. Whatever that might be.

Jon
Jon
2 years 4 months ago

Hey Mark, out of curiosity, what was the piece of music you were talking about that makes you feel breathless?

Margaret
Margaret
2 years 4 months ago

I can’t believe meditation is not listed here…

basil cronus
basil cronus
2 years 4 months ago

meditation is inherent in all of these things…

Margaret
Margaret
2 years 4 months ago

I guess we have different definitions of meditation

Michele
2 years 4 months ago

Agree with everything except I don’t know if I can handle enough spice to get the benefits from that one, interesting concept! Exercise, humor, and music are big in my life and have always been.

john c. akers
john c. akers
2 years 4 months ago
Hi All, For me, one of the wonderful benefits of Qigong is the wonderful flow of endorphins through most of my body–and it’s a nice as my runner’s high ever was. I began practicing basic Qigong over six years ago and have kept practicing daily, if only for a short while each and every day. With this i have become capable of the almost at-will releasing of endorphins. Do try it, keep at it daily, enjoy, laugh, feel, and expect the wonderful tingling feelings of endorphins moving through you. This is well being at its best! (Aren’t the immune cells… Read more »
Kelda
2 years 4 months ago

Ditto!

Qigong (literally ‘energy work’) rocks!

Kathy Uccello
Kathy Uccello
2 years 4 months ago

Yes! I love qigong so much I started teaching it. I have even heard the term “chi-bong” used to describe the alternate “qigong state”!

Jon
Jon
2 years 4 months ago

Talking of great music, I saw this last night – this is pretty epic! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0nDhQEIdSQ

To add to Marks comments I think a key is getting outside and having some sun on your face 🙂

A great group workout I love is Cardio Tennis – Music, sun (hopefully), plenty of sprints and a enough basic hand/eye coordination challenges to make it interesting. http://www.lta.org.uk/players-parents/Cardio-Tennis/Home/

Kevin
Kevin
2 years 4 months ago

Mark, I too would like to know the name of the piece of music you were talking about that makes you feel breathless.

Jon
Jon
2 years 4 months ago

I took Mark’s advice last Fall on taking up an instrument. My instrument turned out to be a digital synthesizer. Creating music is an absolute joy. I sculpt new sounds or just use the pre-programmed sounds. There is an immense satisfaction to music.

KariVery
KariVery
2 years 4 months ago

…”in a word, be present.” I know Mark was talking specifically about relationships, but this jumped out at me.

Just Be. Participate. Listen. Be observant. You’ll be surprised at what the world reveals – and it does make you feel high on life much of the time. As corny as that sounds… it’s true!

jake
jake
2 years 4 months ago

just reading this list made me feel high. i set my life up around a lot of the aforementioned activities.

Michael
Michael
2 years 4 months ago

Your WAPF remark literally had me cracking up!

Gym Queen
2 years 4 months ago
Hey, this was a beautiful post! The things you mentioned really do make me happy, even on my worst days. Today I caught the wrong bus and had to walk through an area of much lower buildings, and the fact that I could see the horizon and the rising sun really really cheered me up and changed a bad day into a good day! Dreams are amazing too. Whoever said you dream less as you grow out of childhood obviously wasn’t talking for everyone! My dreams are just as amazing, if not better, as when I was 5. I look… Read more »
Smileyprimaljulie
Smileyprimaljulie
2 years 4 months ago

I find I get a particularly strong “high” from volunteer work or otherwise helping others. It also lasts quite a while after the good deed is over.

David
David
2 years 4 months ago

Thanks Mark. I think cold water showers needs to be on any list of natural high-inducing behaviors. After exercise, a cold water shower keeps me feeling great for hours.

patrick
patrick
2 years 4 months ago

Great article. My extreme sport is swimming in cold water. No wet suit just a hat to stop the brain freeze. This gives a great buzz and also keeps me in touch with nature. Also have switched to extra hot chilli sauce lately and am enjoying the heat.

Pastor dave Deppisch
2 years 4 months ago

Sex and Humor— but not in the same bedroom!

Rich
Rich
2 years 4 months ago

I don’t know about that, Dave. Just ask Ron Jeremy!

Dave
2 years 4 months ago

Whoops! LOL

Carrol Anne
2 years 4 months ago

I had the opportunity to hear the Three Tenors live in Vancouver many moons ago, I don’t even remember the particular song shamefully; however when they hit their notes together, I swear it was like the space shuttle taking off, I’ve never imagined anything like that possible, was SO truly AWEsome, and it comes back (flashback?) almost as strongly whenever I hear the soaring of these combined voices precisly tuned. If you find your ‘awesome’ sound never let it go. Wallow in it!

Tom B-D
Tom B-D
2 years 4 months ago

vincero….vin-CEEEEEEEEEEh-roooooooooo
Nessun Dorma, perhaps?
Those guys are/were amazing.

Whitedaisy
Whitedaisy
2 years 4 months ago

YES! Even seeing the song title in writing made my arm hairs perk up.

Tom B-D
Tom B-D
2 years 4 months ago

🙂
As an amateur operatic tenor, nailing that high B was the dream. Not my fach though…so I stuck with the day job!

Rick
Rick
2 years 4 months ago

I’m tired of chasing highs. A high means a low will follow.

patrick
patrick
2 years 4 months ago

Not necessarily. Natural highs are fine but drug induced highs are definitely followed by lows. Stick mainly to natural highs and moderation in any other type.

Rick
Rick
2 years 4 months ago

It’s a law of the universe, if you will. Just as you cannot know light without darkness. The whole premise of reaching a high, natural or not, implies you as starting from “below” that place–a low. The instant you desire it you have created its opposite.

Shaun
Shaun
2 years 4 months ago

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt

I think the ‘gray twilight’ sums up that sort of mediocre life.
What is so bad about lows anyway? I agree that you must know lows to experience highs but intrinsically is it such a bad thing? Getting to know yourself a little better?

SumoFit
2 years 4 months ago

Try one of Bill Kipp’s FAST Defense classes (Fear Adrenal Stress Training). You will be as high as a kite for the next 24 hours (or longer). Be forewarned, one class may lead to a serious addiction!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AkLu4DgL8o

Miranda Crochet
Miranda Crochet
2 years 4 months ago
My husband is one of the happiest, most positive people I know. He is a firefighter, a dirt bike rider, and did recreational skydiving for several years. All of this leaves me a ball of nerves.. but seeing how happy and fulfilled he is in life, makes it all worth it! I don’t think I’ll be trying any extreme sports anytime soon (I’ll just stick with intense work-outs) but I can continue to get the contact high through his activities too! Also, being present in long-term relationships is totally key.. choose your love and love your choice to the fullest.… Read more »
jamie
2 years 4 months ago

Great list Mark, I wonder if this is why I crave spicy things under times of stress, that endorphin release is what the body craves!

Dr. Anthony Gustin
2 years 4 months ago

Another undervalued one here is just human contact – sex works, I suppose. People are generally not very touchy feely any more and I think that disconnect messes with us.

Amy B.
2 years 4 months ago
I couldn’t agree more. Simple human contact — it’s a rare thing, these days. I’ve been on my own (no significant other) for a very, VERY long time. For a long while, I was focused on other things and it was completely off the radar. Lately, it’s come back, and now that I *realize* how lonely I feel, I long for that simple human touch in a way I really never have before. It’s kind of amazing what a really good, long, warm hug from someone you care about can do when you haven’t had one in ages. And you’re… Read more »
CT
CT
2 years 4 months ago

So…. slam some chili water, after crossfit and a long run, before having sex, with someone you love, somewhere beautiful outdoors, ethereal music in the background, you dream and laugh together afterwards, then run, hand-in-hand, to the cliff, and jump together, scearming to the heavens, as you plunge to the water, far below… yes?

Tom B-D
Tom B-D
2 years 4 months ago

bucket list

Erin
Erin
2 years 4 months ago

damn you painted a pretty picture there

Linda
Linda
2 years 4 months ago
Getting body piercings has given me some amazing highs. I remember being happy that there was someone with me to walk me home once, because I felt like a drunk person and would have staggered into the street. And another time I went to get pierced when I was rather stressed out, and went home with the most incredible feeling of calm and peace which lasted for two weeks (!). Just from that second or two of pain from a very sharp needle going through some skin. It’s easy to understand why pretty much every single culture ever has practiced… Read more »
Linda
Linda
2 years 4 months ago
Within the body modification community, it isn’t always. It is a hotly debated question whether or not there even is a distinction between “healthy” body modification and “unhealthy” self harm. Although generally I think the distinction is one of intent: body modification is supposed to come from a good place, with respect for the body, even to celebrate it, make it more beautiful, or maybe to have a spiritual experience. And self harm is thought to come from a place of pain and darkness and destruction, without respect for the body. Although in the end, I suppose the effect can… Read more »
Evan Brand
2 years 4 months ago

Nice post Mark. This sounds very similar to my post called 10 Primal Instructions for Life. http://notjustpaleo.com/10primalinstructions/

Music can be detrimental to your well-being, think about all the horrible mainstream music blared at shopping locations, coffeeshops etc. Be aware of ALL of your musical inputs! They do affect you.

As you mentioned, it’s not a post about psychedelic recipes, but if someone does want to hear about some of the inner workings of these plant medicines, Daniel Vitalis and I had a conversation about this on my podcast a few weeks back.

Jackie
Jackie
2 years 4 months ago

Fascinating. I was reading this on my way home from a theme park where I rode loads of thrill rides and yes, I feel just great!
Now I know why- my ‘lizard’ brain had no way to know I was safe really!

Susan
Susan
2 years 4 months ago

Good list, but childbirth is the biggest one for me.
An incredible high for hours and a feel of super human strength.
All just minutes after thinking you can’t survive another minute.
🙂

Paleo-curious
2 years 4 months ago

True, but I have to say, I wouldn’t want to do it very often!!! (I had twins, once was enough for me.) 😛

jenny rose
jenny rose
2 years 4 months ago

yes, that IS an amazing one. i always had trouble sleeping after giving birth, despite exhaustion. it was such a surreal feeling that this tiny person is out, and there beside me, breathing.

della
2 years 4 months ago

Giving birth is seriously the biggest high I have experienced, all sixteen times. Exercising, eating chocolate, and feeling the sun on my skin are also biggies.

Tom B-D
Tom B-D
2 years 4 months ago

Having not been doing endurance training, I forgot how good the endorphin thing could be–until I did a Spartan Race with some friends a few weeks ago–it was a great rush, but doing it with friends was really the key, getting through (self-imposed) adversity together.

The Way We Were
The Way We Were
2 years 4 months ago

I did bungee jump when I was really young…I felt dead afterward…I swear I will never do that again~ LOL

tom LI
tom LI
2 years 4 months ago

Always a favorite Primal High is working on a project, with my hands and mind, building, repairing, doing heavy maintenance work around the house, etc, and then you forget all sense of time. Your body and brain is in full sync, the project starts to unfold, move toward completion…you can’t stop, breaks are heresy! It can be cleansing. Not only have I zoned out for a few hours, but there’s a completed task in front of me. Maybe a real thing, a dreamed up, sketched, planned and now completed object.

bobby
bobby
2 years 4 months ago
Interesting list… Rather than music, I’d include it as a subset of Art that would include film, TV, literature, paintings and music. And rather than just music or any of the above art-forms, I’d go with “Sturgeon’s Law” – that 95% of most of those are junk and 5% that stuff that dreams are made of. Watching films ‘Citizen Kane’, ‘Vertigo’, ‘The Godfather Part 2″, “Magnolia”, “The General” (1925), “Rashmoon”, “The Gold Rush”, ect, ect had the same effect as music did for you. These and the very best TV shows: “Breaking Bad”, “Hill Street Blues”, “The Wire”, “The Twilight… Read more »
JT
JT
2 years 4 months ago

Weed didn’t make the list this year? Hmm…

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
2 years 4 months ago

PrimalCon Denver! lol

meepster
meepster
2 years 4 months ago

Another one – jumping around barefoot in the snow. Or going outside in a swimsuit on a snowy day and rolling around in the snow or rubbing snow all over yourself. That’s a great natural high. I miss it now that I don’t live in a snowy climate anymore.

And making music is a great one – especially improvising with other people. I always have an involuntary grin on my face after doing a solo with the band that I’m in. Even if the solo completely sucked.

Paleo-curious
2 years 4 months ago

Perfect timing, as I just came home from hoop jam to read this! Hoop dance is my favorite natural high (aside from art-making)– it combines exercise, music, rhythm &, on hoop jam nights, companionship & unison with other flow addicts! And depending on the groove it can be quite sensual too.

Tonight we had the most amazing golden glowing full moon to top off the evening. I guess all I need now is something spicy to eat &… 😉

jenny rose
jenny rose
2 years 4 months ago

what a great post! i particularly enjoyed reading about music, dream, and humor, transcendent things I’d like more of in my life!

Donovan
2 years 4 months ago
I think that maybe as we engage in natural highs more and more, we actually change. I’ve been a meditator 15 years now and a teacher said once that it is good to spend longer and longer times in higher states, because we’re getting to know who we are in those states; what the world looks like, what’s important to us, we’re literally becoming that high. I like to think we’re made to progress forward into ever more enjoyable existence, even unto Bliss..and that maybe we do that by engaging all or most of these things *together*. A big key… Read more »
Donovan
2 years 4 months ago

Synchronicity: my roomie yesterday recommended I put cayenne into gel caps and do it that way – a bigger dose of the hot stuff! I’m soo going to try it now!

Anna
Anna
2 years 4 months ago
another awesome post.. leaves me speechless for the agreement of every single sentence. Thanks Mark.. Another priceless blog post for the history records. This is good stuff.. Someone should shoot a copy of it over to the Positive Psychology people if no-one is hooked up with them already. (will send over a link today :P) yay for community too. I think it may be the most overlooked aspect in today’s society perhaps. The sense of joy from communal sports.. I think we achieve this high also from giving and receiving in general – perhaps an overlooked point for the list… Read more »
Drumroll
Drumroll
2 years 4 months ago

Yerba mate, l-theanine taken together with optional a few teaspoons of cacao powder taken on the side.

I became a calm, blissful, productivity machine the first time I tried this. >_>;;

Herbs are… A wonderful thing. 😉

Charlie
Charlie
2 years 4 months ago
Great post Mark! I teach High School Health, and I assign my students to write out “50 Natural Highs” in descriptive sentence form. I get “naturally high” reading their natural highs! I also make sure they understand the difference between the artificial high caused by drugs triggering their brain to produce large amounts of the “feel good” neurotransmitters and how heavy drug use over a period of time can wear out the mechanisms that produce the “feel good” neurotransmitters (dopamine, seratonin etc) I give examples of my own friends who have been substance abused over many years and now they… Read more »
John D
John D
2 years 4 months ago
This is a fantastic list but there is one thing I would add to it, which recently I became a huge believer in – a niacin / sauna flush. The regiment I use is: 100-200mg of niacin , 20 minutes of intense exercise in intervals, then 45 minutes of a sauna at 180 F or higher. This practice twice a week is a high I just cannot describe!! It flushes toxic chemicals out of your fat cells and brain. And while we all strive in the primal world to avoid toxins , we live in a toxic world, and their… Read more »
Mike L
Mike L
2 years 4 months ago
One glaring omission than even a non-believer like myself can see: attend a religious congregation. It obviously works for many people so why not consider it? Did this not make the list because it’s not “natural.” Well, if worship isn’t natural for humans, and group activities like playing soccer are, then I don’t know what passes for natural here. Can you elevate the discussion above the purely biological functions so that I don’t lump in my “natural ways of feeling on top of the world” with my daily poo which, granted, is a life-sustaining activity but not the kind of… Read more »
Dave B.
Dave B.
2 years 4 months ago

Reading the Humor section made me laugh 😀

Amy B.
2 years 4 months ago
Wow. Posts like *this one* are the reasons why I really feel like Mark (and the whole MDA community) has the most comprehensive, most down-to-earth perspective on all this stuff. We might have to replace “vitamin J” with “vitamin H” (for high). Some of these look awfully familiar. 😉 Great list — and yet another reminder of how so many things besides diet factor into enjoying one’s life and feeling ALIVE. Does the amount of sugar or n-6 we do or do not consume really matter that much if we feel lifeless inside? There’s so much more to the game… Read more »
Erin
Erin
2 years 4 months ago

I read this as I listened to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” Amazing.

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