Most of us can buy into the idea that in order to get your body in shape, exercise will be necessary. In order to get stronger, faster, leaner, and lighter, “working out” the body can help you get there. So why isn’t it the same concept for your mind and thoughts when dealing with happiness?
As I was driving from my first client this morning, I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and appreciation for my life. I exercise both my body and my mind.
I’d like to breakdown the simplicity of our emotions. First we observe or think something, next we interpret it. Based on what we think about the situation and what it means to us, we then have a feeling. Thoughts come first, then emotions.
Two people can be looking at the same situation and interpret it very differently. What it means to them will determine how they feel about it. There is no one “right” way to interpret anything.
Most people are so focused on the emotion that they tend not to inquire about the thoughts that created the emotion in the first place. If you want to change your emotions, you have to change your thoughts.
Think back to a time when you were observing a small child cry- probably because they were not getting something they wanted or they had a small trauma of falling. Have you observed a child who then was enticed with something else, or just changed focus, and then immediately seemed happy again within minutes or seconds? Children are a great example of the simplicity of how we all have the power to quickly change our point of focus- it’s really that simple.
Let the children around you this season inspire simplicity, gratitude and focus.
A child hasn’t practiced story telling yet-adults get good at creating “the story” around why something is the way it is which keeps us stuck in “what is” longer. And within our story, there is a message to uncover-our needs.
All negative emotion happens when we feel or perceive a need that is not being met. I have been studying the work of Marshall Rosenberg, author of Non Violent Communication, off and on for a few years and he does a great job of breaking this down into usable tools. First you identify the emotions you are having. Next, you figure out what need(s) is not being met that is helping to evoke these emotions.
Then you create at least one strategy of getting those needs met-none of which require anyone else to do or be different. I will give you a personal example; my husband and I were scheduled to go to a weekend event that evoked negative feelings in me every time I thought about it.
He told me I didn’t have to go but I wanted to support him so I made a point to work through my feelings and transform it into something that could feel better to me. First I observed my physical response to the idea- my body caved in, my shoulders rounded forward and I felt a pit in my stomach. Next, I explored what my feelings were; I was feeling trapped, a lack of freedom, and worry.
For some people, identifying the emotions is enough to create some relief. However, I believe that digging deeper to uncover the need is where the true shift is going to happen. I then asked myself what needs of mine were not being met? The answer was my need for freedom (in a few areas) and connection.
Next I asked myself what could I do to provide myself freedom in this situation and then I provided that for myself. I did the same with connection- I gave myself permission to connect with myself first and then be open to connecting with others but to not be dependent on or expect to get it from anyone else.
This is my emotional and mental “workout” to improve my level of happiness.
My mental/emotion workouts have gotten so good over the years that most of my needs are met all the time, I am a happy person, AND I trust myself to get my needs met when they are not. Self empowerment is my practiced way of being- no victim here. Why I was even more grounded in my appreciation of this today was because of the contrast I have been witnessing with a few clients over the last week.
Many of the people I work with on a regular basis are financially stable and successful-they have more than enough to survive and thrive, more than the average person. And from the outside looking in, most people would think they shouldn’t have a care in the world since they have an abundance of resources to get their needs met in most areas of life. But they still suffer. The learned behavior and thought patterns focus on the doom and gloom and get stuck in the emotion of being a victim to something.
They all have the same level of fear, depression, lack of connection, hopelessness and worry as everyone else. I used to be one of those people who thought if I just had more money, I could get more of my needs met. That’s an illusion.
And I am glad I learned it early in my life.
Becoming self-empowered, problem solving and managing your thoughts and emotions is just like working out. The more you do it, with good tools, the better you are at coping with life’s ups and downs. It is a learned behavior and a daily practice.
The more you exercise your muscles, the easier it is to perform daily tasks like walking up stairs or doing yard work. The more you exercise your mental and emotional muscles, the easier it is to get your needs met and live a happy life.
You have all the answers inside of you right now to transform your experience in your life every day. While you may want to get some more or better tools, all the power you need already exists inside of you. Today I celebrate that within myself. I have all I need to guide my thoughts to create good feelings in my life and for that I am truly grateful.
Do you have a mental/emotional workout that helps you to become stronger and happier?