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Identifying Your Emotions is the Key to Exponential Happiness

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In the weeks and months following the heinous terror attacks of September 11, millions of Americans decreased their domestic air travel. As domestic flying decreased, car travel increased where a study found that people opted to drive longer distances rather than fly. Not taking into account 9/11, there were 331 airplane crash fatalities in the U.S from 1751 crash events. What’s interesting is there were 42,000 driving-related deaths in that same year. The number of deaths in air travel and road travel remained relatively consistent in subsequent years.

Statistics imply that post 9/11, Americans were more willing to risk mortality of long-distance car travel rather than adopt the minimal risk of air travel, presumably due to the perception of risk involved from terrorism threats. We can believe that the September 11 terrorist attacks may have resulted in a secondary toll of deaths as people made poor choices to avoid scenarios of risk. What has been made clear, is any large-scale threat to public safety affects our emotions and the decisions we make

Our Emotional Responses

Our emotional responses are a reaction to the world around us. We’re supposed to smile at babies because it’s our evolutionary advantage to give infants positive emotions. We’re supposed to react with a fight or flight response under perceived danger because self-preservation is part of our DNA. What we don’t often think about is the thousands of micro reactions we face every day. The waiter at the restaurant is polite, so we respond with kindness. 

The car next to us cuts us off in traffic, so we abuse them. While many emotional expressions are universal, sociocultural norms can dictate how we respond when coming across an intense emotion. For example, in Japan, people tend to hide their display of fear or disapproval when an authoritative figure is present. Conversely, in western culture like the United States, people are more likely to express their negative emotions in their presence and with others.   

We can come across an intense emotion, not ignore it, control it, and use it to make the world a better place. Climate change, domestic abuse and human trafficking are all relevant examples in today’s world. Even protests of racial injustice become fueled by emotion. The adverse reaction we may feel about these issues can be used more positively by donating our time, helping others, or educating ourselves and those around us to become more aware. 

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” – Dale Carnegie

Emotion is our human way of putting a meaningful stamp on our experiences. They are a key driver in our behaviour and shape our responses to what’s around us. Emotions enable us to make decisions, take action, connect and communicate with others, and build meaningful friendships and relationships. Our feelings are either short-lived or long-lasting. Understanding emotional behaviour in others informs us how to adapt our behaviour accordingly.

In our daily lives, we are often told not to ‘get too emotional’. When females show emotion,  others see it as showing “too much”, or “overreacting”. Conversely, when men show too much emotion, or any form of emotion- Others may see it as being “weak”. 

Emotions and Decision Making

Many of the decisions we make in our lives are almost instant and based on emotion. We’re not always in charge and can be too impulsive or deliberate for our own good. One moment we get a hot head and explode with the confidence of an idea; the next we’re paralysed by uncertainty. Antonio Damasio’s research has been instrumental in helping humans understand how emotions influence our behaviour- in particular, how we make decisions. 

One of Damasio’s studies took a look into those who had damage to the brain’s emotional circuitry. In addition to finding that such people could not feel emotions, he also uncovered that they are unable to make decisions. The patients were able to describe the action they should be taking, but could not settle on a decision, even as simple as what to eat. Emotions enable us to weigh up options and come to what we believe to be the best outcome for ourselves. They are a vital component of our decision-making process. 

When making a decision, we look for a way to satisfy a basic human need: happiness. It is why many of our choices are unconscious attempts to avoid guilt, fear and negative feelings, whilst trying to enhance our positive emotions simultaneously. 

The strong influence our emotions have over our thought process means that our decisions are susceptible to error. And because we value our time, decisions are often fast and automatic, where we can feel a certain way for as long as possible. We then don’t often realise the full impact of the emotional interference in our decisions.

“Human behavior flows from three main sources: Desire, emotion and knowledge.” – Plato

3 Ways To Identify and Help Our Emotions

Our emotions are there for a reason. They act as the rudder of a ship that helps us navigate and steer through calm and rough seas. Taking time to understand our emotions and feelings not only spares us from unexpected breakdowns, but it’s also how we can create a happier self and live a happier life. 

  1. Take time to engage with people. Read the emotions in their faces and show them you’re listening and paying attention. Visual feedback and facial cues often work well where your mirror neurons are activated and help you become more engaged.
  2. Communicate your emotions with others. Learn to articulate your thoughts and feelings and feel whether your automatic response is appropriate. Suppose you can identify the source of the emotional trigger. In that case, you will be able to assess the emotional temperature of a conversation better and defuse any tension through your actions. 
  3. Slow Down. Think and assess what is happening around you. Our decision-making is capable of making errors in judgement and becomes easily influenced. By applying logical and rational thinking, you will be able to judge situations more effectively. 

With exercising to help your emotions consistently, the growth that comes with it will set you up for success. Whether it’s personally or professionally, nurturing how you feel and becoming aware of strategies in dealing with emotions will create exponential happiness.

Blake is a writer, reader, sports lover and creator of blakedevos.com. He shares his thoughts through writing on Productivity, Healthy Habits, Athlete Inspiration and Health + Fitness. When he's not writing and reading,  he is boxing or socialising. You can take part in his Habit and Productivity Challenge here.

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3 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself and Live an Optimized Life

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The secret to happiness lies in the way you live your life. People think of happiness as some destination they’ll reach when they’ve accomplished the hundred things on their life to-do list. Happiness is often associated with money, material possessions, or even great relationships. (more…)

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These 7 Daily Resolutions Can Change Your Life

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We all strive to be better every day. Most of us want a new day to bring something new, and we plan for it as well. Of course, the execution is debatable as procrastination is real and it becomes an overwhelming feeling at times. Also, not to forget the customary practice of making resolutions on new year’s eve!  All of us are fascinated by the thought of preparing long lists of resolves to mark the beginning of a new year. Not sure how many people are able to translate these resolutions into functional realities. (more…)

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4 Reasons Why Content Is Pivotal For Mental Health Healing

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One of the most important things for an entrepreneur’s mental health is expressing their feelings, thoughts, and emotions. This is where content creation and writing becomes pivotal. Whether you read something that resonates with you or you write a compelling blog post, the act of expressing yourself through content can help to put a smile on your face and make you feel better about things.

Most entrepreneurs don’t spend as much time taking care of their mental health as they should. Over the course of your career, you will experience a lot of ups and downs; these emotions have the potential to take a toll on your mind and body if you don’t learn to manage them properly.

Here are four reasons why expression through content is pivotal for healing, slowing yourself down, and giving yourself grace when the going gets tough.

1. Content can be a form of self-expression

When you are an entrepreneur, you frequently face feelings of insecurity, doubt, fear, apathy, and exhaustion, just to name a few. Some days it feels like no one is on your business’s side and everyone else has it all figured out. On those days some of us try to look at our website’s analytics to cheer up. 

But an even more freeing task is creating content. You create content to improve your business and reach more people’s lives. But, there is something special that happens when you write with the intention of expressing your thoughts and feelings — you open a door to yourself. 

Content is inherently personal, which means content creators open themselves up when they share their thoughts on a platform. Everything from the title of the post, the keywords they choose to include, and even the content itself helps you to understand who the author of that post truly is. And as an entrepreneur, this can be an important experience because it allows others to empathize with you.

2. Self-reflection will lift you up

As you think through what to write about and how to express yourself, the process of self reflection is a valuable step you need to go through. You’re able to reflect on the blessings you have, assess what you learned from the negative experiences, and create a plan on how to maintain the positive experiences you’ve had. 

There are a few ways that self reflection can help you with mental health healing. The act of reflecting on your experiences helps to create clarity in feelings, thoughts and emotions which will eventually lead into acceptance for what has happened or is happening currently without feeling overwhelmed by it all. This process also leads people towards finding new things they enjoy doing. Self reflection is therapeutic and can be implemented anytime you feel the need to overcome overwhelm.

“Writing in a journal each day allows you to direct your focus to what you accomplished, what you’re grateful for and what you’re committed to doing better tomorrow. Thus, you more deeply enjoy your journey each day.” – Hal Elrod

3. A sense of belonging and camaraderie

It is important to have a support network of people who will listen and understand what you are going through. When you post a blog or upload a video on YouTube, there are others who feel the same way and experience a sense of connection with you.

When you put time, attention and thoughtfulness into your writing, it is amazing when someone reads what you’ve written and comments on it thanking you or expressing how they resonate with what you’re going through. It’s hard to put into words how powerful it feels when someone who has gone through the same experience and reads your words then reaches out.  There is power in expression but miracles happen when people bond over a similar experience.

4. Library of content to share with more people

It can be very difficult to know what content to share with people as the symptoms of mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.) vary from person to person. But as you accumulate more and more content, this will increase the number of articles or videos available for readers to choose from depending on their specific purpose. It also builds your personal library of resources you’re able to share to different people you encounter or engage directly with.

As chaotic and distracting social media can be, it can also be a beacon of hope with the right content. Many people share viral posts, or content that interest them. Since your content is valuable and personal, the more you share it, the more likely it is to be shared with the right audience.

You never know who is watching (reading)

Your content is speaking to someone and even though they may not be actively engaged, their experiences with your work are impacting them. Think about the last time you watched TV: did everyone in the room have something entertaining to say? 

You never know who’s watching because there’s always somebody reading your posts or viewing your videos-even if they just skim through it briefly. This is why creating content worth consuming is critical, not only to get you out of your funk, but also to serve your audience.  Be authentic and stay true to yourself; make every post count as an opportunity for connection with your best self and for potential readers to bond with you.

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5 Ways To Invest In Yourself and Change Your Life

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Warren Buffett once said, the best investment you can ever make is in yourself. Time and money spent on bettering yourself are never considered a waste. Whether it’s through learning how to make money online, exploring new ways to increase your financial security, or watching TED talks to expand your knowledge. Do not be stingy when it comes to self-improvement because it will definitely pay off in the end. 

Need some ideas to get started on your journey to becoming a better you? Here are 5 ways to invest in yourself and transform your life. 

1. Change Your Self-Concept

Having a negative self-concept can have a tremendous impact on your life. Limiting beliefs and self-doubt are some of the main reasons why many never achieve or attempt to pursue their dreams. Take a moment and think about all the negative thoughts you have repeated to yourself throughout your life. How have these thoughts impacted the way you live life? From now on, create a new self-image by turning these negative thoughts into positive ones and appreciate your good qualities. 

2. Sign Up For An Online Course

If you’ve been wanting to brush up on your Photoshop skills or learn how to code professionally, this is the perfect time to get started. As long as you have a stable internet connection, you can access an endless amount of valuable information online. For example, sites like Coursera and Youtube are both awesome resources for online learning. With a few search strings and clicks, you can find all the information you need. 

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” – Robin Sharma

3. Learn From a Mentor

No matter which stage of your life you are currently in, working with a mentor can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals. Not only can they guide you in the right direction, but also transform your vision, provide you with new insights, and connect you with amazing resources. If you’re feeling unmotivated or unsure about what you want to do in life, consider finding a mentor to help you navigate this process. 

4. Start A Side Hustle

The salary from a 9-5 job would rarely allow you to reach your maximum income potential. Why not achieve financial success while pursuing your passion by starting a side hustle? Whether it’s through starting an ecommerce business, freelance writing on the side, or starting a Youtube channel. There are infinite numbers of ways to make money, and there is bound to be one out there that fits your passion and skills. 

5. Nourish Your Body

As many may say, “health is the new wealth”. Without a healthy and functioning body, living a fulfilling and comfortable life becomes difficult. To take care of your body and prioritize your wellbeing, start with small habits such as eating healthier foods and exercising regularly. Bike or walk to work instead of taking the car, and opt for a healthy protein bowl instead of greasy burgers at Burger King. With time, these small habits can make an incredible difference.

Check out the infographic below, to see more ways you can invest in yourself:

home-electrification

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