Happy, sad, glad, mad

Did you know that identifying the emotions you are feeling is a great way to decrease or expand their impact, and that by simply identifying and admitting you are feeling happy, sad, glad or mad you can improve your life?

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Studies show that when we identify and accept our negative emotions or situations – sad/mad – their impact is lessened, especially in times of stress. Positive psychology research has revealed that savoring the good things that happen to us (gratitudes) or identifying when we are feeling good – happy/glad – increases the likelihood we will strive to increase positive situations and emotions.

You can reap the rewards noted in these studies by taking your emotional temperature throughout the day. (Sounds silly, but it works!) To get started, you can pick specific times – 10, 2 and 6 or specific activities – breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are even free apps you can download and use!

But most importantly, make sure to note what you are feeling when you notice your emotional temperature changing. This is the best time to key in and be open and honest with yourself about what you are experiencing. (Try it, it can make a huge difference in your life.)

Admitting to yourself that you are feeling sad or mad is often enough to keep those feelings from escalating and may prevent you from saying or doing things you may later regret. (P.S. Your body and brain already know what you are feeling and have responded to it, you might be fooling yourself, but you’re not fooling them!)

Noting when you are feeling happy or glad, is a great way to savor the moment and is an excellent way to begin creating the life you really want by helping you recognize and include the people, places, things and activities that truly make you feel happy and fulfilled.

Once you get in the habit of noticing when you are happy, sad, glad, or mad, you can expand your awareness by adding emotions such as confident, enthusiastic, optimistic, appreciative and/or jealous, resentful, ashamed and guilty. The better you get at identifying how you are feeling the easier it will be to expand or respond to each emotion.

So how are you feeling right now –  happy, sad, glad, or mad?

I’m feeling happy and snappy, which for me means happy with a twist of enthusiasm and a sprinkle or two of optimism. Here’s hoping you have an equally insightful day!

Find out more about Patrice, and how she can help you create the life you really want.

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How you tell your story matters

Human beings are storytellers and how we describe our lives and weave the pieces and parts together is a reflection of our outlooks and becomes part of the fabric of our personalities. The personal stories we tell not only paint a picture of our past, they color the life we are living today.

“In telling the story of how you became who you are, and of who you’re on your way to becoming, the story itself becomes a part of who you are. . . . a person’s life story is not a Wikipedia biography of the facts and events of a life, but rather the way a person integrates those facts and events internally—picks them apart and weaves them back together to make meaning.” The Atlantic, Julie Beck,

Finding meaning in life’s ups and downs is one of the aspects of life that researchers believe is related to longevity. The more meaning you find along the way, the better able you are to “wobble” or bounce back after adversity, and perhaps the longer and happier life you live.  (For a great story and insights about longevity, click here.)

book-2160539_960_720Growing-up most, if not all of us, engage in “autobiographical reasoning”. We link circumstances and outcomes, we ascribe meaning to events, comments and the behaviors and actions of others. We then create stories about who said what and why, or how and why things happened. Some of those stories are good, but others lead us down darker roads: “Mom always liked Sharon best, no doubt she will prefer her kids over mine.” 

We then tell these stories so often (to ourselves and to others) that they become part of our world view and may even begin directing our actions. I’ve learned to gently examine the stories I create, and I am much better at not predicting negative endings. There truly is no comfort or value in being right about something negative. 

Sad and bad things happen, no doubt about it, but when we consistently create stories that give top-billing to blame and pain, we do a disservice to ourselves and all the folks we tell our stories to.  I truly believe simply saying “I am scared.” or “I am sad.” is much better for our souls and psyche and will help us wobble our way through life.

Your perspective is truly one of the most important parts of your story, and yes, at times creating new or rewriting old stories may be scary and lonely, but the pay-off might just be a longer, healthier and happier life.

Are you ready to create the life your really want? Start today! 

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When bad things have happened

If you have had a traumatic experience, or have avoided dealing with an upsetting topic or situation that has plagued or worried you for years, there is an effective fix that can get you on the road to recovery. It is called expressive writing and works like this:

  1. Commit 20 minutes a day – for 4 consecutive days
  2. Then in a quiet, private place, and write for 20 minutes a day for 4 consecutive days
    • Make it personal and private
    • Ignore grammar and misspellings
    • Be honest – are you happy ,sad, glad, mad or all of the above?
    • Be reflective not corrective (Don’t try to fix what is bothering you but rather write about what is bothering you.)
    • Only write about what you can handle thinking about – sometimes dealing with a fresh hurt or pain is too intense.
  3. Optional step: Write about same topic from the perspective of others involved . . . tricky but helpful, if you choose to do so.

notebook-731212__180Expressive writing is a concrete action, which is a much better way to deal with problems and challenges than ignoring them and ruminating about the dark situations and sides of our lives. For a video about emotional writing, and additional instructions and insights on how to do it, click here.

Research shows that emotional writing may leave you feeling sad immediately after you write (This is similar to how a sad movie might make you feel.), or you may cry while writing; both are normal and okay.  But, if writing  causes you major distress, simply stop and try again at another time when you feel more ready to explore your feelings.

Expressive writing will leave you feeling happier and healthier. Studies show the positive effects can impact immune functions and last for months and maybe even a lifetime, if you continue the writing as needed.

Pick up a pen and paper, find a cozy spot and write to change your life. It’s free, takes very little time, and may reward you with peace of mind and a much more positive perspective on life.

James W Pennebaker, Ph.D., and Professor at University of Texas at Austin is a leader in the research on this topic. Click here to visit his web page and learn more on the topic.

Feeling awareness

“Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.”  Eckhart Tolle

flowers-1184705_960_720Happy, sad, glad, mad.

Knowing how and what you are feeling allows you to both be in the moment and to step back and see a bigger picture.

In that moment you stop being your feelings and become something greater – aware of your feelings, and then and only then can you celebrate and savor the positive ones or explore and deal with the negative ones.

 

Are you ready? Life could be better  . . . Wishful Thinking Works Life Coaching

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Dialing down your fear meter – redux

Something to think about . . . from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now . . .

“The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger.”

Hmm. “The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger.”  How many times are we in real life or death or seriously scary situations and how many times do we create (exaggerate) them in our minds?

“It [fear] comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia, and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now.” The Power of Now

When you catch yourself raising your fear meter by imagining negative or disastrous outcomes . . .

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Note that the situation you are thinking of is scary to you – “Wow, I’m more worried about this than I realized.” (Be honest with yourself; keying in and admitting you are afraid can quickly reduce the stress you are feeling by interrupting your negative thought process.)
  3. Take another deep breath.
  4. Do something physical to switch gears. Move! Get up. Stretch. Rollover. Sit up. Walk away. Turn around or shimmy, shake, hop, skip or jump yourself away from your fear. :-) (Making yourself smile never hurts.)
  5. Repeat as necessary, and don’t be discouraged if you have to repeat these steps often, because that means you are serious about change!

MH900387812Later when you aren’t worrying about the topic, you can review the situation by brainstorming your options, assessing your strengthsrecalling pass successes dealing with tough situations – and why they worked, predicting a positive outcome (Try it; it can work wonders.), and then you can decide how, or if,  you need to deal with the situation.

But for now, learning to interrupt your thought cycle is all you need to do to dial down your fear meter and gain some peace of mind!

Let me know if this works for you! It always makes me feel better – if I remember to do it!

PS This post is updated from its original posting on Wishful Thinking Works in 2013.

Dialing down your fear meter

Something to think about . . . from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now . . .

“The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger.”

Hmm. “The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger.”

How many times are we in real life or death or scary situations, and how many times do we create them in our minds?

“It [fear] comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia, and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now.” (The Power of Now)

When you catch yourself raising your fear meter by imagining negative or disastrous outcomes . . .

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Note that the situation you are thinking of is scary to you – “Wow, I’m more worried about this than I realized.” (Be honest with yourself; keying in and admitting you are afraid can quickly reduce the stress you are feeling by interrupting your negative thought process.)
  3. Take another deep breath.
  4. Do something physical to switch gears. Move! Get up. Stretch. Rollover. Sit up. Walk away. Turn around or shimmy, shake, hop, skip or jump yourself away from your fear. :-) (Making yourself smile, never hurts.)
  5. Repeat as necessary, and don’t be discouraged if you have to repeat these steps often, because that means you are serious about change!

MH900387812Later when you aren’t worrying about the topic, you can review the situation by brainstorming your options, assessing your strengthsrecalling pass successes dealing with tough situations – and why they worked, predicting a positive outcome (Try it, it can work wonders.), and then you can decide how, or if,  you need to deal with the situation.

But for now, learning to interrupt your thought cycle is all you need to do to dial down your fear meter and gain some peace of mind!

Where are you sitting on the tree of life?

Patrice Koerper  Life Coach Wishful Thinking Blob Tree Pip Wilson

Where are you sitting on the tree of life?


Where do you want to be?


You can do it.


Don’t give up!


Other Wishful Thinking Works posts you might enjoy . . .

The Lollipop Effect

The Light Side of Life

Happy, Sad, Glad, Mad

For Wishful Thinking Works services that can help you change your life, click here.

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Don’t be afraid to feel this holiday season, and then breathe! This post is from the talented helobiae’s Word Press blog, click here for one of my posts to help you walk thru your feelings.

helobiae

2.80

 

That morning, after breakfast, Julia opened the box of magical words and took a card out. The card read:

feel

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Penning happiness

 

 

Would you like to make someone you care about happy and increase your happiness in the process? If so, write a gratitude letter to someone special in your life. The effect can leave you and the recipient feeling happier for weeks, even months. 

 

Last year I wrote and shared a gratitude letter with my Dad, who is now 91 and in and out of the hospital weekly. Am I glad I did it, YES!  Was it the easiest thing I ever did? NO! Was it one of the most rewarding, YES!

I’ve been writing retrospective thank you notes for years. I’ve written lots of cards to my aunts and to family friends of my parents for their special acts of kindness to me as a child. One of my younger brother’s god-mothers always brought a few of us close to his age (there are 9 kids in our family) treats on the holidays when she brought him a gift. One of my aunts hosted weekly gatherings at her and my uncle’s rural “resort” each Sunday in the summer; my siblings and I were able to swim, dive, jump, ride, row, fish and enjoy all sorts of other summer fun because my aunt and uncle were willing to put-up with an ongoing stream of guests. Those Sundays were magic to me as a kid, and I wanted her to know. More sweet memories – my godmother and her grown daughter took me shopping and to lunch during the holiday season and let me, within a specific price range, select my gift. I loved those trips.

Those letters and the memories they evoked were wonderful, but a gratitude letter is even a better way to say thank you. Here’s why:

  • It’s longer – shoot for 300 words.
  • It’s read in-person to its intended, making it more of a gratitude visit with the letter as a hostess gift of sorts. The true magic of the visit comes from sharing your letter out loud and face-to-face with its recipient.

Tips for making it work:

  • Write to someone, who did something nice or kind for you, but is someone you’ve never thanked.
  • Be detailed. Write specifically what you are thankful for. Include the whats, the whens, the hows and the whys.
  • Let your recipient know you are up to something good! Dr. Martin P. Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology and one of the first and strongest proponents of gratitude visits notes the ritual is powerful,  ”Everyone cries when you do a gratitude visit,” he says. ”It’s very moving for both people.” A funny thing happened when I read my letter to my Dad. When I finished, he made a timid joke about how I must have the wrong “Dad”, and then he told me he thought I was going to share something about what he’d done wrong – not right. I was nervous about sharing my letter, and he interpreted that as seriousness or sadness. Then when I began reading from a sheet of paper he was sure there was bad news ahead. We laughed about that, but to prevent any confusion, letting your host or hostess know the visit is well-intentioned is probably a good idea.
  • Leave a copy of your letter with your recipient. Don’t worry about making it too fancy, but using special paper or laminating can’t hurt. A frame might seem a bit much – go with your guts. Just don’t make the visit too much about what happens next with the letter; leave that up to your receiver.

Happiness is contagious.

Another interesting facet of this simple and effective gesture is that it tends to grow and reproduce on its own.  Recipients often end-up writing and sharing letters with folks they want to thank, and writers tend to write more letters to share with others. Sometime soon, I will share with you one of the most touching responses I received from a friend with whom I shared a gratitude visit. Just thinking about it makes me happy, and it happened almost a year ago!

Increased happiness for you and someone you care about is just a few pen strokes. Don’t let this free,  foolproof opportunity for joy pass you by – get started on a gratitude letter today!

WTW Dandelion

The 30 second difference

Feeling this good is easier than you think, and can take only 30 seconds.

I truly belive there is no better way to improve your outlook and your life than to learn to capture the feelings of the varied moments of your life. I believe this applies to both the “good” and the “bad” moments.

We spend so much time doing, many of us forget or immediately push past our feelings, afraid that if we – even for a moment – stop and reflect, acknowledge or savor them we will miss something else, become complacent or conceited, delve into despair, embarrass ourselves, spiral out of control or break some unwritten societal behavioral rule. Most of us have devised all sorts of mental gymnastics to avoid being in the moment.

The truth is, it is healthy to acknowledge and label how we are feeling. It is okay to face and embrace the fact that we are happy, glad, sad or mad, and doing so is more beneficial than pushing the feelings aside or rushing to minimize them.

If you are sad, be sad. Note to yourself: “I’m sad.” If you are angry, it is more effective to say to yourself, “I’m angry,” and then to ask yourself a series of follow-up questions such as the ones listed below, than to hide or disguise your feelings under tons of angry or whiny words, reactive or retaliatory actions (including smoking, drinking, or eating everything in sight), or to shut down and slip into situational depression.

  • “Why am I sad/angry/nervous/tense?”
  • “Have I felt this way before?”
  • “If so, when?”
  • “Am I afraid of something?”
  • If so, “What?”
  • “Is it likely the thing I am afraid of will really happen?”
  • If so, “What could I do about it?”
  • Keep coming up with simple, yet, open-ended questions until you get to an “aha” moment or run out of steam, which usually happens sooner than we think it will.
  • And, remember to label each new feeling that arises along the way.

Asking yourself questions can help you get a grip on what is really happening, and then you can let yourself feel and face those feelings, which is much more productive and relaxing than ignoring them.

If you are happy, feel it in every bone of your body – SAVOR it. Allow the experience to seep into your physical being. Hold any pleasant thoughts and pleasurable images, allowing them time to imprint in your brain and release a little dopamine (more on the “powers” of this interesting little neurotransmitter in future posts) and to set the stage for easy recall in the future.

Saying to yourself, “Oooh, this moment feels so good or is so special to me, I want to remember it,” only takes a second or two. Taking the time to close your eyes, breathe deeply and relive the moment in detail, uses-up another 30 seconds that I am sure you can spare! (When you get really good at savoring, you won’t have to close your eyes, instead you can use them to quickly scan all the details of the situation, sort-of like those cool camera shots in movies when a super hero zeroes in on and records every single detail of what is happening around him or her.)

The key is to capture the moment in your mind, storing it for future reference. Think of yourself as the librarian or archivist of all the pleasant moments of your life. We tend to do this automatically when we are on vacation or enjoying other big moments of our lives, but we overlook saving the day-to-day or little stuff that makes us happy or our makes our hearts sing.

Gather all the good stuff. Get in the habit of noticing and recording the perfect cup of coffee – the way it looks, smells and tastes or the sunbeam slipping through the curtains, or the amazing scent of fresh-cut grass. It’s all there for the taking. Storing it can enhance your life. Pulling it back off the bookshelf of your mind to relive, will improve your mood and maybe even your outlook on life.

To learn more about the wonderful art of savoring, check out these past Wishful Thinking Works posts.

Take time to notice when you are happy, glad, sad or mad. Begin feeling, savoring and storing the moments of your life. It’s easy to fill-up the bookshelves of your brain with “best-selling” moments.

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