A Happy Life: Choosing Your Emotions

I have four brothers, two older and two younger. As a child I resented being the only girl. I often got picked on with ‘no girls allowed’ signs and ‘you can’t do that, you’re a girl’ comments. It was at these time that I would rush to my parents.

 

“Mom! Joe (*name changed) said I couldn’t build the Legos because I’m a girl.”

“Then find something else to do.”

“But he’s being mean. He should be punished.”

“If you ignore him, he’ll stop.”

“I am so mad!”

“You choose your emotions.”

 

I always hated when my mom said that. Joe wouldn’t let me play with the Legos therefore it was Joe’s fault that I was mad. Often, to prove a point, I would mope around the rest of the day and be nothing but mad. Looking back, I see what my mother was saying. I would ruin the day for myself because I would choose to be mad at my brother. I would drag that anger out when I probably would have been content to play with my Barbies.

It’s not just something my mother said either. It has been proven scientifically. There was a documentary released in 2001 titled “The Human Face” In it they showed something called ‘A laugh club’ It was a group of people who would gather every morning to practice smiling and laughing. Sounds Crazy right?

It really wasn’t. Here’s the thing about a smile. It’s contagious. Go ahead, smile at someone around you and see if they don’t smile back. Chances are, they will. The scientific part of this? It’s been proven that smiling, even if you’re not happy, will improve your mood.  Moving the muscles in your face to that upward smiling position triggers hormones that make you happy. Don’t believe me? Try smiling for a minute straight. Do you feel different? Because you should.

There is a myth out there that emotions can’t be controlled. That if you’re mad or sad or upset about something, it can’t be helped. Think about a reason you were mad recently. I bet it had something to with how another person treated you. Yes, the first reaction was anger, but then you had a choice. Hold on to that anger and hold it over the persons head, or decide if your anger was really worth it.

As you think about this, ponder this question ‘am I achieving what I wanted by being mad at that person?’ Or in other words ‘am I really hurting the other person by staying mad, or am I just hurting myself?’ Chances are the other person doesn’t even know you’re still mad. They’ve moved on with life, and that anger you’re holding on to is doing nothing but hurting you.

Emotions change our view of the world. Optimism or pessimism come by choice. We choose to look at the positive or negative in things. We choose to live our lives happy or sad or angry. It’s all about our choices. Good choices can lead to a more fulfilling life.

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