The Happiness Connection  

Name your emotions

I consider myself to be a positive person, but that doesn’t mean I am always happy, or that I couldn’t be happier.

I had a situation last week that caused my sense of well being to take a serious dip. As I was driving home feeling far from happy, I decided to take note of how I dealt with my feelings, so I could share my experience with you.

Let’s get real about happiness.

We are programmed to have a range of emotions. Negative emotions help us during moments of threat, and mild to moderately positive ones help us grow and learn. It isn’t wrong to feel unhappy, but it isn’t the best place to spend most of your time.

What did I do to help myself?

Acknowledge how you are feeling.

I began by giving myself time to simply feel negatively. Suppressing your emotions is not healthy. Air them, but don’t focus on them for too long. I found myself thinking about other situations in my life and I noticed the negative spin I was putting on them too. After about 10 minutes I decided I had stewed long enough.

TIP: Set the timer on your phone for 10 minutes. Lean into all those negative feelings, but when the time is up, be willing to let those emotions go.

Put some happiness boosting strategies into action.

Remind yourself that how you view your life is up to you. I wanted to come out of my funk, so I put a few happiness boosting strategies into action.

I was already on a walk with my dog, so getting out into nature was already taken care of. I consciously looked for beauty in my surroundings; the sky was picturesque and the fall colours were amazing. I made myself smile, I’m sure it looked forced, and I thought in detail about three things I was grateful for.

Label the emotions you are feeling.

I was feeling a little better, but I had one more strategy up my sleeve.

I concentrated on my emotions and looked for the best word to describe them. Peeved was the word that felt most accurate, although disgruntled and irritated came close.

Research shows that labelling your negative feelings is an effective way to reduce their intensity.

In one study, participants were shown photos of people with emotional facial expressions. This triggered the amygdala area of their brains causing them to feel similar emotions themselves.

This phenomenon is known as emotional contagion, and is one of the reasons we feel empathy for others. When we look at an unhappy person, we feel unhappy.

The subjects were then asked to name the emotions they were feeling. This simple act reduced the activity in the amygdala, lessen the impact and intensity of how they were feeling.

As I walked down the hill to my house, I continued to try different words to find the one I felt was the best descriptor of my emotions. Was I feeling happy by the time I reached home? No, but I wasn’t feeling so peeved either.

By the time I walked into my kitchen, I was thinking about other things and moving on.

Happy people don’t pretend they are impervious to negativity. They try to choose environments that are positive, and keep their minds focusing on good things, but they have negative emotions too.

What separates positive and negative people is how they choose to deal with unhappy emotions. You can focus on them, or decide to let them go. The choice is yours.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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