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Smiley-face TCM - Don't worry, be happy
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There's a famous story about a 50-year-old scholar, Fan Jin in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) who had tried and failed the imperial examination many times. When he finally passed, he was so elated that he became delirious with happiness. His frenzied state persisted. Finally, his father-in-law, a man he feared, had to slap him to shock him and return him to sanity.

Extended grieving, too much sadness for too long, consumes energy in the lungs and can cause shortness of breath.

When people are afraid, kidney energy flows downward.

That explains why some terrified people may become incontinent.

A sudden shock disrupts the flow of energy and the energy becomes unsteady and disordered. People appear panicked and even out of their wits.

Too much thought - dwelling on problems and brooding - and sorrow will cause energy in the spleen to stagnate. This can result in poor appetite and sleeplessness. Over time it can cause the skin to darken.

To treat ailments caused by mood, "mood therapy" is more effective than medicine. The concept of "inter-inhibition" among the five moods is the basic theory of mood therapy.

The Yellow Emperor's TCM classic states: "Happiness inhibits sorrow; sorrow inhibits anger; fear inhibits happiness; anger inhibits thought and worry; thought inhibits fear and shock."

Therefore, the Emperor's classic advises: If you are depressed or sad, thinking about pleasant things and taking part in pleasurable activities can help. Friends help too.

Weeping too much doesn't help. Drinking doesn't really help; you're still sad when you sober up.

Fear is a common response to the unknown. Learning about the unknown event, thing or person you fear can help you overcome that fear.

Similarly, sad news can counteract anger and restore balance. A shock can sometimes revive someone who has lost consciousness because of euphoria. Angering someone who is brooding too much or "thinking too much" can help break the mood by helping dissolve stagnant energy and blood in the spleen.

(Shanghai Daily May 6, 2008)

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