You are the catalyst of your own happiness. The results you receive in life, romantically, financially, physically and emotionally, are all determined by your actions and your actions alone. When you live by this notion, you gain power over every curveball life throws at you.
No other person, place or thing can permanently change the way you feel deep inside. They may distract you from your feelings temporarily, but they cannot affect the true core of your soul.
As we can choose to pity ourselves in the case of an unfortunate event, we can just as easily make a conscious decision not to. Optimism is a choice and, while it’s not always the easiest one to make, it certainly is the most fulfilling.
I consider myself an overall optimistic person, and I often find myself saying the same thing to those who ask me how I remain this way: “Life is what you make of it.”
While we may not always feel in charge of our own emotions, we all hold the required tools to take control. Mindfulness plays a large role. With these six tips, you can decide your emotional response to any given event.
1. Imagine life as a test you’re determined to pass
While it’s easy to resent the world for its tragedies, its annoyances and tiny mishaps, it’s actually not that difficult to accept them instead.
Every event and every obstacle we face can be considered a test of our character and good will. Each day we are given the chance to prove ourselves, to prove our true nature. We should embrace these opportunities. Challenge yourself to accept what cannot be changed.
Sitting in traffic can be a horrible, hellish experience or it can be the best part of your day. If you stopped huffing and puffing so much, you’d realise that this is the only hour you have solely for yourself. Take the time to decompress. Listen to some good music. Practice singing, or that dreaded presentation you have to make at work. Catch up with an old friend over the phone.
Or just smile at the miserable person in the car beside you. Laugh at their misery. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll laugh along with you.
2. Take a moment to digest
Why are you supposed to wait 30 minutes to go swimming after you’ve eaten? Because your body needs time to digest, or so your mother says. Well, the same thing goes with our emotions.
Remember the saying when you were a kid, “Think before you speak”? Well, it’s even more relevant as an adult. Taking a few extra minutes, or even a whole day, to react to an unsettling event might seem like a waste of time, but it’s probably worth it. Not only will digesting help you process your own feelings, it will eliminate the risk of overreacting, and later regretting your response.
3. Surround yourself with rational, positive people
Neuroscientist Giacomo Rizzolatti explores a theory involving “mirror neurons.” He has found that neurons in the human brain actually mirror what their eyes perceive, which explains why we cringe when we witness someone getting hurt.
“Every time I see you smiling,” Jonah says, “my own brain lights up as if I’m smiling.” Our emotions are influenced by the emotions of those around us. Have you ever smiled or giggled at a crying baby and seen their face suddenly mimic yours? This is a perfect example of the theory.
We feel what we see, even if it is unconscious or involuntary. It’s important to surround yourself with people who will influence you to make reasonable choices, and to respond rationally.
4. React out of love, not fear
Another theory states that there are only two basic emotions we all experience: love and fear. All other emotions are variations of these. Anxiety, anger, loneliness, depression, inadequacy, confusion and shame are all fear-based emotions, while joy, trust, compassion, truth and satisfaction are based on love.
It is important to understand the core of your emotional response to any given event. What’s driving your reaction? If you’re experiencing resentment, are you responding out of fear? How can you eliminate your distress?
Answering these questions will not only help you control your reaction, it will enhance your self-awareness and hopefully, make you tolerate or, better yet, accept the situation.
5. Switch roles
A good tactic for responding out of love, instead of fear, is to look at the situation from a different point of view. Usually, this means putting yourself in your “opponent’s” shoes.
Can you see things in a different light? Remember that this person can only act out of fear or love as well, so they must be doing the former. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Rather than arguing, try to find a way out of fear or anger and into the realm of mutual understanding.
6. Don’t underestimate your own integrity
Integrity is defined as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.” We often neglect the importance of this virtue. We let ourselves off too easily when we react poorly to a difficult situation. “But, I was pissed,” we say, brushing off the absurd mental breakdown we had in line for our morning coffee.
We believe that it’s human nature to get irritated, to overreact or to misunderstand. We therefore think it’s OK to behave in ludicrous ways. We forget about the importance of integrity, whose alternative definition is described as “the state of being whole and undivided.”
Balance is a key factor in choosing our own mood and accomplishing the contentment we all seek in life. Our own integrity can help us make better decisions and ultimately feel fulfilled.
To read more articles by Sarah Williams visit http://get-a-wingman.com/
This was first published in the February 2016 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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