abstract-rainbow-boxes-wallpaperWe are emotional creatures. In that we are not alone, but where we seem to stand alone, is in our ability to think about our emotions and to work to change them. This turns out to be a useful thing. Unlike most other animals (perhaps all) who seem to accept reality as given, we are busy changing ours, and fall victim to various responses to our efforts–anger, sadness, joy, jealousy, greed, hatred, love, compassion, and so forth.

We recognize that all emotions are not useful, at least when expressed. We are told not to “bottle up” anger, and that we can be eaten up” by jealousy. We cannot and probably should not choose to eliminate some emotions, because they have nasty a way of rearing their heads in full-blown chaos when we do. Yet, life is surely not happy when dominated by anger and jealousy, regret, and worry.

We have to learn how to manage emotions so that they serve us, yet do not dominate our lives in a negative way.

Our gift (evolutionary or spiritual) of introspection, serves as a great tool in learning to handle our emotions. Healthy mature adults have all learned this. It takes some time. I’m not sure too many twenty-year olds are good at it, but no doubt a few are.

Develop the habit of spending some time reviewing your day and the emotions you experienced. Impatience, anger, frustration are some that we all face nearly every day. How do you handle them? What do you think is the root cause (rather than the superficial details of any given incident)? How can you handle things differently next time?

Deep and dark emotions like hatred and extreme jealousy need to be grown out of. Not suppressed. I didn’t suggest that. But whenever you experience deep ugly emotions, something else is going on, and that something else is what needs to be addressed. I can’t tell you when it reaches a level requiring professional help, but the surest signpost is when it begins interfering in your daily life to a point that it hurts you at your job or with relationships.

I’m talking about the more normal issues we all face. Ferret out the reasons behind your jealousy at a friend’s good fortune, and you will be well on your way to enhancing your own life. Most of our negativity seems to come from unhappiness with some part of our lives. When we can address that, the negative feelings drift away.

It is essential that you develop some “me” time each day. You can engage in formalized meditation, take a quiet reflective walk, do yoga, or just sit with some pleasant music and mull the day’s events.

Recall what you said, and how it was received. What jump started your emotional response to some event or statement? Did you respond to a look, or a sound, or a word? Sometimes any of these trigger unpleasant experiences from childhood. Is that the look your mother gave you before she sent you to your room for misbehaving? Did you boss give you that look? Are you afraid of some repercussions at work about your abilities?

It’s truly amazing how much we can learn about what REALLY is going on. Once we know that, we can design a better response. And when that happens enough times, the trigger will be immediately followed by the “corrective” thought.

Beyond that, we need to cultivate our good emotions. You should be sure to find something to laugh about every day. Try to find something several times a day in fact. Visit a website that makes your laugh out loud!  Oh one that makes you feel tender (puppies and kittens and baby animals are great for this). Visit sites that make your heart soar whether it be mountains or oceans or verdant rolling hills.

Read a bit of a book that raising your sense of hope for good outcomes. A life without hope is well, hopeless. Find inspiring writings or videos or a painting, and spend a few moments every day with it.

Smile, often and much. Smile at strangers as you walk in the mall. Smile especially at clerks in stores who may need it! Smile at your pets, and at things that make you happy. Smiles have the weird ability to beget smiles from others, and that is very good.

Some folks believe that our moods and feelings are energy that flows out from us. And they believe that our energy attracts like energy and repels unlike energy. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do believe that when we are happy we attract happy people, or perhaps we just help them turn into happy people. It doesn’t matter, we both are better off!

These emotions of ours are foundational to our existence. We must give them the attention they need. Nurture the good ones, and learn what is behind the bad ones so as to convert them into “better” ones.

It’s all part of the whole that is you.