The Happiness Connection  

Move in unison with someone else and boost your self-esteem

Movement and happiness

Do you pause regularly to think about your gallbladder, blood flow, or brain health?

If you do, I applaud you. However, you may be like me and countless others who ignore their body, or at least aspects of it, until something goes wrong.

Rather than waiting for problems to arise, there’s a simple way to care for every aspect of your wellbeing on a daily basis—increase the amount of time you spend moving. Regular movement has long been linked to improved mental and physical health. With daily exercise you can improve your circulation, brain function, metabolism, mental clarity and mood.

It turns out that physical movement has another benefit. Research suggests it can also increase self-esteem. Your self-esteem is how you value and perceive yourself. It’s very subjective and is something many people struggle with.

If you, now or in the past, have been fed a steady diet of disapproval from family, friends, teachers or other significant people in your life, you may have started to believe all the things they’ve been saying. Sometimes it isn’t the words they utter that cause you difficulties, actions can be just as harmful.

Low self-confidence affects your life in many ways, including relationships, academic and professional success, as well as mental health. Boosting your self-esteem can increase your happiness and help you achieve your full potential.

It turns out that by synchronizing your movement with someone else’s, you can also improve how you feel about yourself.

Psychologist Joanne Lumsden and her colleagues asked participants to do a simple activity with another person via video link. The prerecorded video showed a young woman in a similar room to them doing arm curls. The subjects were asked to perform the same exercise. Half were requested to synchronize their movement with the video, while the rest were asked to deliberately keep their arm curls out of synch with the person they were watching.

Each person filled out a mood report before and after they participated in the activity. It included how they felt about themselves and how close they felt to the person they were watching on the video.

The results revealed that when subjects intentionally synchronized their movements with those of the woman on the recording, they felt better about themselves. Those who were out of synch didn’t experience this. Synchronization also increased the level of closeness they felt to the person on the video.

Other studies support these findings. It turns out that synchronizing your movement with others increases cooperation, charitable feelings, and how much you like the other person or people you’re moving with. Additionally, it makes it easier to remember what people say and to recall what they look like.

The way your brain perceives your emotional state affects your movement. Think about the way you go about your day when you’re sad as opposed to when you’re excited. Different emotions result in different types of movement.

But it turns out the path between your body and your brain goes in both directions. Movement also changes the way your brain interprets your emotions and situation. If you feel out of sorts, try going for a walk. If you want to feel better about yourself, engage in an activity where your movement matches that of others. Try line dancing, walking in step (with someone) or dragon boat rowing.

Perhaps school days, board meetings and friendship circles should all start with a few synchronized movements. Coordinated finger snapping, clapping, singing or even chair rocking could be just what’s needed.

After all, feeling good about yourself and the people around you is key to a more harmonious and happy world.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Dealing with conflict is often a difficult task

Head vs. heart

I have a friend who’s very near and dear to my heart, but I suspect I’ve disappointed her over the past few months.

Staying in touch has become more difficult for a variety of reasons. I could list them, but the details don’t really matter. It is what it is. This is a time when I need to prioritize myself. I’m dealing with a few challenges and as things change, I’m having to shift and adapt.

But understanding this doesn’t lessen the way I feel, knowing I’m disappointing this person.

I have a history of being a pleaser. I learned from a young age that pleasing others made me feel good. If another individual thought I was a good person, it must be so, but that isn’t a healthy way to approach life. Self-esteem should be rooted in how you view yourself, not how others do.

I may be aware of this old patterning and work to limit its power over me, but that doesn’t mean it’s vanished. My head tells me I can’t live to please others, but my heart has something different to say.

There is a lot of discussion about what matters more, your head or your heart. You’ll find valid reasons to come down on either side of that particular fence. Your choice is also affected by your personality type. In Myers Briggs terms you’re more naturally a thinker or a feeler.

In truth, it’s important to give both perspectives consideration. When they work together, you can feel that what you think is the right thing for you. That’s kind of a convoluted way of saying you want to feel good about the decisions your brain makes. It doesn’t make situations like mine any easier but understanding what’s going on brings with it a certain sense of peace.

I know that conflicts between head and heart are common. There’s no one right answer. There might not even be a perfect resolution.

There are a wide variety of ways to deal with any problem. Any of them could work. I don’t want to hold out false hope by suggesting if you follow a certain formula, all will be well. What I can offer are some actions to consider.

• Look at all sides of the situation—Rather than trying to justify your position, step into the other person’s shoes. How may they have perceived what happened? Don’t seek judgement; instead strive for understanding of all perspectives.

• Be honest with yourself—It might help to share your plight with a trusted confident who will be truthful in a loving way. Perhaps you’ve overlooked an important aspect of the situation. In any case, don’t let your Ego interfere with the process. This is about wisdom not proclaiming a verdict.

• Take a step towards resolution—The important part of this step is to be conscious about what you decide to do next. You don’t have to actually do something. You may choose to allow time to heal the situation or give yourself or the other person space to gain perspective. One of my favourite actions is to have a good night’s sleep before deciding what to do next.

• Communicate honestly—Regardless of how uncomfortable it is, reach out to the person or persons involved if that feels like the right action. Decide whether this is best done verbally or through written communication. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Don’t let yourself be dragged into drama. Try to share rather than defend or condemn.

When you find your head and your heart involved in a tug-of-war, the key is to take some step towards resolution. The worst thing you can do is to stand still or close your eyes to the situation.

Whatever action you choose will help you step out of what could become a never-ending cycle of frustration and negative emotions.

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.”

John F. Kennedy

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Moving from frustration to calm

Dealing with frustration

I spent more time than I care to think about on the phone with CRA last week.

I didn’t expect it to be easy and it wasn’t. I found myself with a blue fog circling my head from the language that was exploding in my brain.

While I was on hold for the second time, I tried to do something productive by going through my emails. The first one that burst onto my screen included an Aldous Huxley quote.

“Experience is not what happens to you – it’s how you interpret what happens to you.”

Let me be honest, although I totally agree with these words, I wasn’t in the mood to receive them with an open heart. Even happiness mavens have their moments, and that’s OK.

I’m sharing this incident because what I experienced is common. Everyone encounters challenges, although sometimes that’s an easy thing to forget. People are far more eager to share the positive things that happen than the negative ones.

If you ever feel that you’re the only one whose life is frustrating, disappointing or depressing, rest assured that isn’t the case. No one has a life that’s devoid of challenges.

Don’t be fooled by the fact people are slow to share the horrendous parts of life but quick to post all the things they’re grateful for. Practicing happiness doesn’t mean you should ignore your negative emotions. Everyone has experiences of vexation, annoyance and heartache. It won’t serve you to pretend you don’t. Burying negative emotions isn’t healthy.

Huxley was right. You get to interpret what happens to you. You can choose to bath any situation in darkness and gloom or shine a little light on it. It’s another way to say, “Every cloud has a silver lining.”

And it does, but don’t think you have to start hunting for it the minute you sense yourself beginning to melt down. Sometimes it’s important to feel all the emotions that are welling up. Allow yourself a few tears if that feels right.

The key to success is not to pretend that everything is fine, but to avoid sinking into a place of limitless wallowing. Pulling yourself out of self-pity is often the challenge. But that’s the step that allows you to see any situation from a more positive position.

You have to be in a clearer, less emotional headspace if you want to move forward.

1. Set yourself a time limit for venting, crying, or ranting.

2. Indulge in some self-care. Watching a feel-good movie, getting outside for a walk, or having a long soak in the tub are all good options.

3. Do something that will move you towards resolving your challenge.

In my experience, the last step is often the most difficult. Challenges can leave you feeling helpless. Action is the best way to step back into empowerment.

It felt like I’d exhausted everything I could do on my own, so I reached out for help. This is something I’m learning to do more as I get older. For most of my life, I’ve considered this to be my last option. I’d hunt for any alternative before resorting to it. It was as if asking for help was a sign of weakness.

There are many reasons why individuals are reluctant to ask for help. They include:

• Not wanting to be a burden.

• Thinking that getting help means you’re losing control of a situation.

• Believing you aren’t worthy of assistance.

• Shame.

• Not wanting to admit you can’t figure it out on your own.

As with anything, the more you get used to doing something the easier it becomes. If you find yourself hesitant to ask for help, start by making small requests. On the flip side, make sure you’re open to helping others whenever you’re asked for help. As with so many things, the flow goes in both directions.

Did I resolve my frustrating situation? I’m not sure.

The one thing I know is that after reaching out for professional help, my mood lifted. In my world, that’s a win.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Finding wisdom beyond your fears

Don't let fear stop you

Recently, scrolling through Facebook, this statement caught my attention: “We don’t need to be wise beyond our years. All we need is to be wise beyond our fears.”

I’m well acquainted with the assertion of being wise beyond one’s years. Sometimes the same sentient is expressed by saying someone is an “old soul.” But the idea of being wise beyond one’s fears made me stop and think.

As I considered the two statements, the thing that stood out the most was the level of empowerment each one offered. You don’t necessarily have control over whether you’re wise beyond your years. It’s something that’s bestowed on you through circumstance and genetic makeup. Being wise beyond your fears, on the other hand, is about conscious choice.

That idea appeals to me. It moves you from victim energy to liberation, from being chosen to consciously choosing.

Wisdom involves using knowledge and experiences to make good judgements and decisions. What does that have to do with fear? Wisdom also involves having a tolerance for the uncertainties of life.

If you cling to what’s familiar, you may find yourself making decisions that help you avoid the unknown, even if it isn’t a wise choice.

How many people stay in relationships or jobs they don’t feel good about, or vacation in the same place every year? If that sounds like you, rest assured you’re not alone.

What motivates this behaviour? A fear that there might not be anything better than what you currently have. It encourages you to settle rather than reaching for the stars. This is part of what’s known as a “scarcity mindset.” Society has convinced many of us the things we value most, like loving relationships, jobs where we’re valued and happiness are rare. They are limited to a few lucky people and sadly we aren’t the few fortunate ones. This subconscious belief encourages you to hang onto what you’ve got. It doesn’t matter if you’re spending time with people who treat you badly or are in a job that’s slowly killing you, at least you have a friend and a paycheque. It could be worse.

Believing you aren’t worthy of anything better than what you presently have, can keep you stuck in mediocrity. Having a scarcity mentality isn’t only limiting, it can be downright dangerous to your mental health. It’s part of a vicious cycle that involves your self-esteem. Low self-esteem causes mental scarcity, which, in turn, teaches you to think less of yourself.

Breaking this cycle is often easier said than done. At the heart of a scarcity mindset is the belief that you don’t deserve or can’t have more. In order to fight that thought you need to disprove it. In my experience, the best way to do that is to work towards outcome independence. Outcome independence is exactly what it sounds like. It involves becoming liberated from making decisions based on desired outcomes and instead focusing on the experience that results from your choice.

Like scarcity, outcome independence is a mindset. If you believe losing what you have is the worst thing that could happen, you’ll put all your time and energy into hanging on to whatever you’ve got. Your fear of being left with nothing will fuel that fire.

Lots of people are afraid to try something in case they fail to achieve their desired outcome. Dating without finding the person of your dreams may feel like a waste of time, or even embarrassing. But is it really?

Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen? Is still being single after six months or a year of dating the end of the world? Have you actually lost anything? You may have new friends and memories as a result.

Outcome independence involves realizing you can cope without the things you’re afraid of losing. It fosters self-esteem because it helps you realize you can handle whatever comes your way, even if that involves your job or relationships.

The only way to truly understand this is to experience it. You need to fall to prove to yourself that you can get up. Once you accept this belief, an abundance mentality is an inevitable result.

That doesn’t mean the things that happen and the decisions you make won’t be difficult or leave you feeling hurt or upset. But when you know there are other opportunities out there, it’s easier to rebound or change directions.

If you want to live your best life, take a few minutes to consider whether fear is motivating your decisions. If it is, give outcome independence a try. It might be just what you need to find the wisdom that lives beyond your fear.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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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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