What is your emotional baseline? How do you feel most of the time? What emotions do you most commonly experience?
You have the power to deliberately choose whether your emotional baseline is essentially negative or positive. Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you have a glass half full or glass half empty approach to life? Do you habitually look for the silver lining when dark clouds loom or do you worry and upset yourself with everything that is wrong, was wrong or could go wrong?
Many centenarians share a philosophy of deliberately choosing to be happy despite the ups and downs of life. They have learned to go with the flow rather than getting caught up in the suffering of resistance to ‘what is’ or ‘what is not’ going on in their life. They advise ‘if you are given lemons make lemonade.’
Embracing adaptability positively supports your emotional baseline and is a key attribute for happiness, health and longevity.
In a practical sense this means accept what you cannot change and pro-actively endeavour to change what you can change. And gain the wisdom to know the difference. Sound familiar?
The Power Of Self Talk
When an upsetting experience happens it is our thoughts that keep us tied to it, re-evoking the initial upsetting feelings each time we replay the experience. We can develop a habit of tormenting ourselves in this way. Our minds are great at lavishly embellishing the experience or catastrophising it to hand-wringingly, ‘dark tragedy’ proportions. We take a simple criticism from one person and conclude ‘everybody hates me’ or make a small mistake and conclude ‘I’m a total failure’. The only place this kind of self talk can take you is into misery and fear. Negative self talk holds your emotional baseline down the negative end of the continuum and inevitably sets you up for even more of what you don’t want!
Through changing your self talk, your emotional baseline can be nurtured towards the positive end of the continuum where people and events have much less power to ‘disempower’ you or bring you down.
Practice accepting ‘what is’ and focus on ‘what now?’ People with a positive emotional baseline take action to address what can be done or consider how a situation could be improved. If a mistake is made they conclude ‘I made a mistake. What can I learn from this? What could I do differently next time that would feel better or support a better result?’ They talk to themselves in ways that support coping, self acceptance and mastery.
Even if you cannot change the event, you have the power to determine how that event impacts you.
Nurturing Your Emotional Baseline Towards The Positive
Positive feelings like love, joy, appreciation, gratitude and pleasure can all be nurtured and strengthened.
The more you practice positive thoughts and emotions, the easier it is to maintain a more positive emotional baseline through the challenges of daily life.
Making tiny changes often throughout the day, has exciting transformational power. Take more notice of how you talk to yourself. Deliberately begin to practice gratitude and appreciation and plan time for simple pleasures.
Writing a gratitude journal every day has been found to increase happiness by 25% within 10 weeks even if nothing else has changed. A gratitude journal is quite simply writing down everything you can think of for which you are grateful. Rather than keeping it as an intellectual exercise, the key is to truly feel the gratitude. It is an amazing way to start the day. Try it and discover what happens!
Appreciation is a great mood lifter. Focus on and savour for a few moments various sensory experiences in the moment. You could stop and do this at regular times throughout the day. At a stop light, look up and appreciate the ever present beauty of the sky. Close your eyes and fully appreciate the sensations of water massaging your skin in the shower. Drink in the aroma of your favourite smells like freshly brewed coffee or your favourite perfume. Take a few extra minutes to give your children or loved ones your undivided attention and express your love and appreciation with words or hugs. Allow yourself to fully appreciate a compliment. Begin now and enjoy what these simple practices will bring!
You may also like to read Manage Your Feelings.