The concept is straightforward and the salience great. Our brains are physiologically organized to react through the neurotransmitters and neural circuits that chemically and electrically drive mental operations, including how we feel and think. The stronger the stimulus, in the form of a powerful exogenous substance, the bigger the neural bang. Substances such as cocaine, nicotine, and methamphetamine stimulate dopamine release, especially in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a region in each hemisphere of the brain that has a role in feelings of aversion, pleasure, reward, and certain forms of learning associated with drug seeking. All addictive substances produce dopamine release in the NAc, presumably because the receptors they directly target (cannabinoid, opioid, nicotinic, etc.) are all connected to the brain reward system. The dopamine release produces the pleasurable high that characterizes the drug experience, at least early on. This is why the specific triggering causes of anxiety or panic episodes tend to change over time. In many cases, a person may first experience anxiety symptoms or a panic attack in a situation they associate with a specific fear - shortly before going on stage to deliver a public speech, for example; shortly before flying or riding in an elevator; before a party or having to ride a bus with strangers. After experiencing the discomfort and distress of a panic event, people will seek to avoid the situation that first triggered the episode. Again, this is a fully understandable and rational response. Any of us would wish to avoid having to even go through such an experience again. In the meantime, however, living with the fear of panic attacks is no easy task. No one should ever dismiss or downplay how frightening it can be to experience anxiety - let alone the acute panic episodes that we describe as "panic attacks." To suffer from a "fear of panic" can also be an isolating experience, however, as mentioned above. The idea that someone might be afraid of having a panic attack - in other words, that they might be afraid of being afraid - can often strike those who do not suffer from anxiety or panic disorders as a strange, even "irrational" idea. This can lead to a feeling in the patient that there must be something wrong with them. 97% of us are unaware, dependent, and concerned with fun rather than having our act together. As a result, we're broke and in debt, lazy, making excuses and acting like victims, egotistical, and addicted to time-wasting things like our phones and social media. 2% of us are waking up, seeing how off track the other 97% is, and we're learning, improving, and doing our best to take steps in the right direction. 1% of us are not about nonsense and we're doing what has to be done to have the life we want and deserve. We're focused, driven, taking action, getting our money right, and getting it done every day.

Everything you think, feel, and do is either a good use of time or a waste. The people you choose to associate with are either wasting your time or a good use of your time. There is no in-between. Those who don't have their act together waste 80% of their day being unproductive and counter-productive. They're sleeping in, playing on their phones, abusing social media, watching TV, addicted to listening to music, and just "hanging out" because they're bored. Indeed, when told that it is unreasonable to be afraid of panic, many people with anxiety respond that they "know" this to be the case, at an intellectual level, but that they do not experience a feeling of control over these emotions. This can lead to a sense that one's emotions are getting away from one, and maybe even that one's life is spinning out of control. This can lead to a still further related fear. Many people with panic symptoms are afraid that they may "lose their minds." This fear that one might "go insane" can further fuel anxiety, and leads to the sort of avoidant behavioral patterns that - as we saw above - actually strengthen anxiety symptoms in the very effort to evade them. 24 hours a day, sand is falling in the hour glass of your life and it doesn't stop for your feelings and discomforts. As long as the sand is falling, you have to be getting after it, getting things done, and making progress. There's no time to waste being unproductive and counter-productive. In other cases, panic symptoms can become associated with different, originally distinct fears and anxiety disorders. For example, people may be afraid of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), open or public spaces (agoraphobia), public speaking, or feelings of public embarrassment or of humiliating oneself in front of others, which is often referred to as Social Anxiety. In many cases, however, what people with anxiety or panic disorders come to fear most is simply the panic attack itself. The reason why is easy to understand, and we have already noted it above: A panic attack is scary! For those who have experienced a full-on panic attack, it is something they do not wish ever to repeat. In many cases, it may seem like the most painful or frightening moment of their lives. Cliched phrases like "white-hot terror" often take on a new and vivid meaning for people who have been through a panic event. Old-school media can influence your well-being in important ways.

The effects of watching TV are very different from listening to the radio or reading a newspaper. In the United States, people spend around five hours per day watching TV; in Europe, around three hours. Both would probably do well to cut down. In Europe, people who watch more than half an hour of TV a day report that they are less satisfied with their lives than those who watch less or none. No such result was reported for listening to the radio. In fact, listening to the radio for more than two hours a day makes people happier than not listening at all. Reading newspapers has been found to have a similar, and even greater, positive effect to people's happiness as listening to the radio. Those who read newspapers are much happier than those who do not, and the more time they spend with newspapers, the happier they are. Listen to a podcast or the radio for thirty minutes more than you usually do, and watch TV for thirty minutes less. Too much television is not generally good for your happiness level--unless you watch it with a spouse or significant other. Shared media experiences--reading the same books, sharing a movie night together, or watching the same TV shows--have been found to create stronger connections in couples. Researchers conducted a pair of studies and found that while sharing real social worlds (i.e., having living, breathing mutual friends) predicted a greater quality of relationships in couples, in cases where members of a couple lacked mutual friends, a shared media world could promote a better relationship between the two. Netflix and chill with your significant other--unless you have real friends to hang out with. So far, we've focused mostly on what makes a person happy, but here we briefly broaden things out. What makes a city happy? Or a country? Urban planners, economists, psychologists, and many others have looked into these questions over decades, finding a wide range of variables that shape the general well-being of a population. Of course, it's difficult to precisely say what makes a perfect place for widespread happiness, considering the wide range of preferences and motivators that drive those who live there or might want to move there. Quality healthcare and a pleasant climate might be priorities for elderly citizens, but a great nightlife and plenty of job opportunities are the more likely attractions for twentysomethings. Drawing on socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic data along with population-wide surveys and more, researchers have been able to isolate certain things that make a place more appealing, livable, and conducive to generating happiness in the population at large.

Here we look at what researchers have determined to be the happiest countries in the world, and what it takes to become a place of widespread happiness--what makes a happy place, and how you can go about finding it. Of the 25,915 days we have to make something happen in life, 5,840 are used growing up into a young adult and 9,125 are spent sleeping. That leaves us with only 10,950 days to get our head on straight, take action, and do things right. Our time is too limited to waste. Make each second, minute, hour, day, month, and year count. Two people are late for an appointment due to an unexpected traffic holdup. One might recognize that there is nothing that can be done, uses his hands-free mobile to phone the people he needs to inform about the delay, and then switches on the radio to listen to his favourite radio station. The other gets nervous, starts to tell himself that this is awful and that others will think badly of him. He becomes so upset he does not think about using his mobile. Both men experience the same situation but the way they think about it either helps them or hinders. Ingested opioids act on u-opioid (pronounced mu) receptors in the brain and intestinal tract and can reduce pain and produce euphoria and narcosis (sedation), as well as cause reduced libido and constipation. Cannabinoid receptors are more widely located and exist throughout the body and brain. They are instrumental to mood, memory, pain, and appetite. Marijuana specifically targets these receptors. Marijuana began its ascent to popularity with musicians and artists well before the 1960s, when the youth culture of the Western world discovered its sweet effects on our mood and its capacity to open many a door of perception. Now eight US states and the District of Columbia have legalized its recreational use, and more than half the states have some form of legal medicinal marijuana. Huge policy issues face this country (and other nation-states) on whether to decriminalize or legalize; on how to grow and ensure quality control for safety and dose; on what regulations, taxes, and distribution channels are needed and at what cost; and more. Drugs such as marijuana, which are used by so many (and greater access will likely increase their use), may have medicinal utility and can produce fewer problems than alcohol or opioids, but they too have negative consequences, especially for the developing brain of adolescents (and fetuses in utero) and when used in high doses over long periods. In the years ahead we will need to observe and record carefully how greater access to cannabis may affect its use and abuse, and what ill health it may deliver. We have, in effect, a national, natural experiment about marijuana going on in the United States.

If we systematically study it, with science not ideology, we will be able to enlighten future policy decisions about this drug. Faulty thinking relates to the way in which we interpret situations, and the following considers the ways in which we can change our thinking to that which is likely to be more effective in dealing with anxiety. There is a model used in Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy called the ABC model. The following describes how situations trigger thoughts, how thoughts trigger feelings and how feelings lead to actions. Much of our thinking is in the form of automatic thoughts. We use the term automatic as we are often not conscious of such thinking. These thoughts simply seem to `pop' into our head. In a way it is rather like shop music - something in the background of which we are not really aware. Negative automatic thoughts are often referred to as NATs. In many ways this is a good description for such thoughts as, rather like the insects, they are irritating. Although you do not often see them, their bites can irritate for days. These kinds of thoughts are usually distorted - that is to say they do not match the facts. They are involuntary and therefore it can be difficult to switch them off. As we have had many years to perfect our thinking styles it can be hard to change the way we think. If you have ever tried to break a habit you will appreciate how hard it can be. The 2 - 3 hours you spend hitting the snooze button in the morning could be used to make progress on your goals. The 2 - 3 hours you use staying up past, what should be, your bedtime could be used getting quality rest instead of watching TV and playing on social media. Whatever the drug, its effects are often linearly correlated with the amount taken--which means that a person's response is in part determined by taking more or using a more potent concoction, or both. Think of "proof" for alcoholic beverages, a measure of the percentage of ethanol in a type of alcoholic beverage: 80-proof vodka, for example, has 40 percent alcohol; beers typically have 3-10 percent, and wines 4-13 percent. A person has to drink far less vodka than beer to raise his or her blood alcohol level and get the brain intoxicated.