If you ask people what they want out of life, most will have one of two responses: I just want to be happy, or, I just want to be rich. If you ask the latter group why they want to be rich, almost 100% of the time it’s because they believe money will bring them happiness.
Happiness, unfortunately, is not something you scratch off your Bucket List, like learning Spanish or buying your first home. And though I would like to say it’s easy, the fact is, much like a healthy body, happiness is a daily commitment that takes training to experience as a regular occurrence. The emotional state of happiness lives in your perspective of the world. It’s a moment by moment choice that can be exercised independent of circumstances, most of the time. It not something we get to – rather, it’s what we bring to an experience.
To maintain or return to your Zen state, here are a few tools to support your happy self.
Use positive expression
The English language consists of approximately half a million words. Of those half a million there are just over 3,000 to articulate emotions. Twothirds of those 3,000 words express negative emotions, leaving somewhere around 1,000 words for happiness and positive expression. It’s little wonder people use negative words far more often than positive ones. By sheer volume our language is set up to better articulate that which is not working in life.
Recognize your choice of words influence how you feel about a situation and subsequently have the capacity to shape an outcome. Next time you find yourself feeling a little down, why not label your mood as disenchanted - instead of depressed? Something unwelcome may be unfavourable – rather than awful. Be conscientious about choosing to support and align with creating that which you DO want.
Get back to neutral
What’s your dominant emotion? Are you often angry, frustrated, resigned, confused or overwhelmed? Scientists have discovered we have emotional addictions. As such, we create circumstances and situations to fulfill the biochemical needs of the cells of the body. This is an unconscious process that may feel as though it’s real and happening to you – and in a way it is.
Pay close attention and you’ll soon become aware of the intricate chemical rollercoaster that you are. So how do you know it’s happening? Let’s say your dominant emotion is anger. When your body is craving anger it will search your immediate environment to justify the anger. It may sound something like this: “I am angry because my partner doesn’t do enough or because that other driver just cut me off and my boss was disrespectful!” In the event you cannot find something to blame your emotions on, that may be the moment you stub your toe or spill coffee on your brand new jacket.
Bang, just like that – there’s the reason for your pissy mood! Yes, you are that complicated! Tune in and interrupt the urge to justify that emotion.
Emotional hangovers and remedies
An emotional hangover is similar to post traumatic stress disorder. Emotional experiences can get stuck in the cells of the body and can wreak havoc on our well-being. Chinese traditional medicine traces this emotional imbalance to the creation of disease. Too much energy (yang) or not enough energy flow (yin) to particular areas and complications arise.
After a highly emotional experience, take therapeutic action to get your body back in balance. Write your feelings down, or seek out acupressure remedies. Go for a massage, reflexology or therapeutic treatment. There are so many amazing cathartic techniques available when you commit to healing.
Recognize the wakeup call
If you’re suffering in any area of life, find the courage to recognize this as your wake-up call. Waking up after being numb or unconscious for any length of time can be difficult, even painful… but what’s more painful is continuing to live the same way once you’re aware and silently observing yourself. It’s a call for change – so accept it.
The moment you tell the truth to people in your environment about what’s really going on with you, your emotional load will immediately lighten. Be straight, declare your new way of being and share your commitment with the people that love you. Most importantly, take action… your future starts where your comfort zone ends.
Here’s an interesting fact that can have a dramatic impact on your life. Have you ever noticed how wonderful it feels to have a great big laugh? When we laugh, our hypothalamus and pituitary glands release endorphins. Endorphins resemble opiates in their ability to provide pain relief to the body, creating a sense of calm and well-being.
I know, you may be thinking: “That’s nice but how often do I have a really good laugh like that?” Well, the good news is that scientists have discovered that regardless of whether the laugh is authentic or not, your body automatically sends out the happy juice. Essentially, pretending to laugh has the same biochemical impact on the body as actual laughter.
Give it a go, with someone or alone. The funny thing is, when people do this they often end up laughing at the pretend laugh – generating true laughter. W
• Robin H-C is a life coach and author of Thinking Your Way to Happy! (available at Chapters). For more information, visit www.thinkingyourwaytohappy.com.