Weed, Happiness and Comfort Foods

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Happy Thursday. We have an update on recreational marijuana and whether happiness is the right goal for you. But before that …

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It’s been over a decade since Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. Now nearly two dozen states and DC have followed suit.

Even if you don’t use cannabis, you probably know people who do. We have some helpful tips to learn more about how smoking, vaping, and eating cannabis affects your health, your brain, and your daily life.

For starters, it helps to know what people are talking about. I learned a few things from this glossary of weed terms. You can learn the difference between cannabis and hemp, different strains of marijuana, and the different methods used to ingest it.

If you are, or know someone who is, a regular user, you might want to take or share our new weed quiz. We spoke with doctors, cannabis experts and addiction specialists to identify behaviors that could signal a growing addiction to marijuana.

As with alcohol, most people who use cannabis recreationally do so responsibly. But if you’re not sure, use these questions to think about how cannabis – whether smoked, vaporized or consumed – fits into your life.

There are no right or wrong answers, but the questions will get you thinking. Are you planning your vacation with marijuana use in mind? Do you relax at the end of the day with an ice cream, wine or an edible? Do you make social decisions based on whether you’ll have a chance of getting high? Do you or someone you know argue with your family or other loved ones about your weed use?

The quiz is not a substitute for medical advice, but it could spark some interesting conversations about the role of substances in your life.

If you’ve thought about using cannabis for insomnia or stress, you’ll also want to read “Does Weed Help You Sleep?” and “Does weed help anxiety? Or cause it? And while laws vary by state, you might be interested to learn that while recreational marijuana is legal where you live, your employer may not be as tolerant as your local government.

Stop trying to be happy. That’s the advice of this week’s On Your Mind columnist, Gregory Scott Brown, psychiatrist and author of “The Self-Healing Mind: An Essential Five-Step Practice for Overcoming Anxiety and Depression, and Revitalizing Your Life.”

Brown’s big idea is that happiness is the wrong goal. He writes:

“As a psychiatrist, I think about happiness and how to achieve it. And thousands of conversations with patients who seek happiness have taught me that it can be a distraction from what’s really needed for a better life – fulfillment.

“The problem with this approach is that happiness is an emotion, not a state of being. Emotions such as happiness and sadness are not meant to last. They come and go.

“Unlike happiness, fulfillment is a state of being. It is achieved when you accept who you are, make the most of what you have, and are optimistic about the future.

To learn more about how to reach a state of fulfillment, read the full story.

Do you have a health question? Send it to Ask a Doctor.

This week, a reader asks: What is fatty liver disease and how do I know if I have it?

About 1 in 5 Americans has non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD. Unlike alcoholic liver disease, it is not associated with increased alcohol consumption. Read more for symptoms and tests your doctor may order to help you know if you have a healthy liver.

Our new Ask a Doctor columnist is Trisha Pasricha, an internal medicine specialist and gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Send him your questions. Nothing is forbidden. Curious to know more about healthy eating, hot flashes or genetic testing? Dr. Pasricha has what you need. Just fill out our Ask a Doctor form and you might see your question answered in a next column.

Ask a doctor: 10 tips to help you live better

Ask a doctor: is it possible to reverse my diabetes?

Please let us know how we are doing. Email me at wellbeing@washpost.com.

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