If there’s one single thing in the entire world you can do right now to change your life, do this:
Before you start giving yourself excuses as to why you can’t feel good, why you shouldn’t feel good, or why you don’t deserve to feel good, just make the decision. Though you may not realize it, your emotions are within your control. And feeling good – and being happy – is just a choice away.
Do you feel excited? Do you feel happy? Do you feel content? Do you feel blessed, grateful, loved, comfortable, enthusiastic, satisfied? If you can’t answer yes to one of these, chances are you aren’t feeling good at all. You see, there are many different varying levels of positive and negative feelings, but at the end of the day there are really only two emotions you can feel: good or bad.
So, if you aren’t feeling good, you know what that must mean. And the consequences of feeling bad on a consistent basis are much greater than most people realize. They were certainly much greater than I realized the majority of my life. I spent my childhood and adolescent years feeling terrible most of the time, and I can be honest in saying that it started as a way for me to get back to the world for all the wrongdoings I felt had been bestowed on me. Sadly, I didn’t realize that the only person I was truly harming in feeling angry, or sad, or depressed was myself. Myself and my future.
It all changed for me – my entire life changed for me – when I realized something magnificent. After reading Eat, Pray, Love (which I’m still so grateful exists) I discovered something incredible. I realized, with much disbelief at first, that I could control my own emotions. Just like sitting down at a restaurant and ordering a meal, I realized that I had the power to summon up my feelings from simply choosing an item off the emotional menu, if you will. This emotional menu I speak of is my thoughts. As it turns out, there’s an even more accurate saying than “you are what you eat.”
You are what you think.
The first step to taking control of your emotions through your thoughts, of course, is to realize that the power is all yours. This involves accepting that your emotions are all your own responsibility, and 100% a product of your thoughts. This means that you must throw out that old excuse, “you made me upset!” or “you made me feel this way!” and realize that you are the adult and you have the power. Nobody but you has the power to alter your emotions.
The second step is practice. This takes time. When I first started monitoring my thoughts through my emotions, I’d play a little game with myself. I’d know when my thoughts began to turn sour because, out of virtually nowhere, I’d begin to feel awful. I’d get anxiety or I’d start feeling sad and depressed, and then I’d immediately turn my attention to my mind. Each and every time this occurred, I’d find something negative going on inside my head, which only confirmed to me what I already believed to be the case: my thoughts dictate my emotions. There in my head would always be that negative thought, the source of my sorrow. And in these moments of finding the culprit to my perturbed mood, I’d imagine myself reaching into my head with my forefinger and thumb, pinching the negative thought by its tail, and throwing it away. At times it would try to fight, and with all its might attempt to crawl back into my headspace; but I would be alert and diligent to ensure it didn’t sneak back in. I became the guardian of my own heart by battling my own thoughts.
There’s a kicker, though. I think we can all agree that we don’t always know what we’re thinking, and although we may be able to recognize that our thoughts have turned for the worse because of the way we are feeling, we can’t always pinpoint and pinch-out a single negative thought to make ourselves feel better. That could be because we, as humans, have upwards of 50,000 thoughts each day, and obviously don’t have enough brainpower to monitor each one. Sometimes the thoughts aren’t conscious, and so we can’t always skim them off the surface. If you can’t find the thought immediately, this could be a sign that you missed your first indication of negative thinking, and your entire energy has shifted and is now snowballing.
But just because you can’t source the culprit thought doesn’t mean you should give up. In these situations, all you’ll need is some tools to use at your disposal.
This is the third step, and one you shouldn’t roll your eyes at and ignore if you want to feel better and ultimately want to change your life. On the road of change, these tools will assist you in having many opportunities to feel good now, which is an absolutely essential and critical part of changing in the right direction.
The tools are essentially diversion methods to get you out of feeling bad and into feeling good. A few things you can have at your disposal are simple. Sometimes I’ll simply turn on the music in the confines of my own home and start dancing. This might sound stupid, and maybe it is, but who cares if you’re feeling amazing? I dance – alone – almost everyday. You can create an “on-tap” happiness list of memories, people, or things that will give you an immediate source of pleasure, laughter, or happiness each time you think of them. You can begin thinking about your future goals and, as long as you believe you can get them, this will surely make you feel better.
Finally, something each and every person should be practicing on a daily basis is something called appreciation. Gratitude is a great place to start and end your day. Waking in the morning with a simple list of what you feel thankful for is something that will put in a mood of gratitude which is very closely linked to happiness.
And guess what?
As funny as it may seem, the more you put yourself into the mood of gratitude, the more you’ll experience things, people, and events coming into your life that make you feel just that same way.
And if there’s one great way to feel that will surely turn everything around, it’s gratitude.
Try it for yourself, and say it again and again.
I’m so lucky.