If the State of Happiness is a healthy mind, body and spirit then the capital city would be Emotional Well-Being. If your emotional well-being is suffering then chances are your mental, spiritual and physical realms are suffering too. How does one repair damaged emotional well-being? What kind of transformation does that take?
None of us are born emotionally damaged, ill or bankrupt yet that will be how some of us end up. People can feel beaten up emotionally by others, by circumstance, by lack of success, by life. Some people display tremendous hardiness and are resilient. They overcome emotional setbacks without long lasting impact. They may even thrive after an emotional setback.
Others languish and may breakdown mentally, physically, and spiritually because of uninterrupted emotional turmoil. Seemingly unable to turn things around they can become paralyzed by their emotional misery. When you are viewing everything through a corrupted and broken emotional lens, everything around you looks corrupted and broken too.
In the worst instances of emotional trauma, professional assistance may be necessary. If that sounds like you, seek professional help as quickly as possible. Know this, under the right circumstances and with proper care, everyone can heal.
But what is the difference between these two types of people, the ones who can seem to turn things around for themselves under the worst possible circumstances and the people who seemingly can’t?
A 12 year long landmark study be a leading psychologist, Dr. Salvatore R. Maddi, found that those who thrived in spite of ruinous emotional stress possessed three key beliefs or traits that helped them weather adversity and turn it to their advantage.
It all came down to attitude: the commitment attitude that would lead them to act to be involved in ongoing events, the control attitude that would lead them to struggle to try and influence outcomes, and the challenge attitude that would lead them to view stressors, whether positive or negative, as new learning and growth opportunities. Dr. Maddi termed this hardiness. Others refer to it as resilience.
The operative word here is attitude. Is your attitude something that is handed to you by someone else, dictated by circumstance or something you are born with perhaps? No dear reader, like so much else in life, the attitude you have about anything and everything is a personal choice.
Good emotional health doesn’t automatically fall onto you from the sky as you sit and contemplate all that is wrong with your life. Emotional balance is something that can be cultivated and developed. Like anything else in life that is worthwhile, it takes choosing differently for yourself, some effort, some practice, some patience and time.
Some might argue that this is easy to do for people who are successful. It is easy to be happy, hardy and more resilient when you are successful, right? Psychologist Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, Riverside found that chronically happy people turn out to be more successful across many life domains than people that are less happy. Makes sense. The surprise was that their happiness was in large part a direct consequence of their positive emotions and attitudes rather than from their success.
The people were happy before they were successful. They became more successful because they were happy. Here it is in a nutshell: HAPPINESS = SUCCESS.
It is time to state something clearly and unequivocally here. Everyone is entitled to their own emotions. Everyone should own their own emotions and be wholly responsible for them. It is then, and only then, that one is able to change them.
How do you make yourself happy? Well, I know how to do that for myself. I have no idea how to make you, dear reader, or anyone else happy. That is your journey and theirs, not mine.
I have a general sense of what it might take to make happiness easier to obtain for most people who aren’t happy.
Embrace, cling to, and devour the positive aspects of living. Read poetry, uplifting books, inspirational stories. Improve yourself. Learn! Watch comedies. Laugh! Laugh some more. Laugh at yourself.
Are you hardy, resilient and happy? Or, emotionally unbalanced? Are you thriving or in need of emotional transformation?
Avoid negativity. Norman Vincent Peale once said, “Avoid like the plague those who fail to crystallize you to your full potential.” He is saying avoid negative people as you would a suppurative, plague induced bubo draining pus. That’s pretty emphatic. Surround yourself with positive people. Decide to become, at all costs, a positive person. It is but a choice after all.
A positive Transformation requires positive input. Negativity is anathema to positive change. No one would begin a race while tethered to the ground. Negative attitudes, beliefs, outlooks, forecasting, viewpoints, approaches and positions are just binders that keep us stuck. Whether they come from within or from outside ourselves makes no difference.
Make this pledge to yourself – I am going to become a more positive person by surrounding myself with positive and uplifting people, exploring and employing resources for positive thinking and behaviors while avoiding negativity like the plague.
Avoid negativity like the plague because it will poison the wellspring of your soul. This must begin within yourself first. This may take some getting use to if you have trained your brain to think or react negatively to any given situation.
Like any bad behavior which has been learned, negative thinking can be un-learned. It doesn’t just happen by trying to think positively all of the time. It comes from learning to think positively and that means being proactive. Here are three steps to help you accomplish this.
1) Begin to read positive, uplifting, inspiring, challenging and affirming material. In whatever your area of interest, find great books and read them! Go to the websites of people you admire and search their reading list. Most will have one and you will begin to notice the wells from which they draw their experience, strength and hope. Study their sources of inspiration.
If you live your life according to what is presented in the popular press we are supposed to be afraid of something, in dire need of something, or eminently dying from something 24/7. Mainstream news is all about what is deficient, broken or missing. If there is an occasional feel good story it is always used as a hook to get you to watch the gloom and doom forecast and reporting
The internet has greatly expanded out news source horizons. Look for blogs, websites and podcasts full of positive information that will help inspire, motivate and crystallize you to your full potential. Everything else is a distraction and a waste of your time.
2) Surround your self with like-minded, purpose driven, passionate people. Avoid negative individuals wherever possible or at least learn how to filter out their negativity. If some one offers you a negative sentiment or observation don’t waste energy disagreeing with it. Rather, try to rev up your positivity generator by countering their statement with a positive spin or comment.
3) Challenge and then change your attitude. Look for the positive in everything. Notice positive occurrences throughout your day and begin to comment on them out loud to others. Try to go an entire day without making negative or derogatory statements. This does not mean that you are to stop giving or receiving constructive criticism. Honest constructive criticism is positive, good and helpful, not at all negative. You know the difference.
These steps will help you to regain control over any pessimism and cynicism that may be dogging you. Or, maybe your positivistic generator is just in need of a tune-up rather than an overhaul. Either way, taking ownership of this step of your Transformation is sure to brighten your pathway to the future you wish to create for yourself.
Are you a positive person? What additional steps can you think of to increase and accentuate the positive in your life?
~ Excerpts from the book POWERFUL WORDS, pages 206-211.