Happiness

Shawn Achor, an American author of the best seller book “Happiness Advantage” made his career on studying “happiness”. Shawn believes that as a society we have focused our attention on productivity and completely forgot about the meaning of our lives along with happiness.

According to Shawn traditional formula of happiness: “I will be happy when I achieve or get something” is fundamentally wrong. We should be able to be happy in a present moment, content with what we already have while still working on our goals.

So what is the recipe for a happy life according to the advocate of positive psychology? Let’s take a look.

1. Grateful for today

Every night, before going to bed, spare at least 5 minutes to write down 3 things you are grateful for today. What happened throughout the day that made you happy? The idea is to condition yourself to see new things to be grateful for every single day and never repeat them.

2. Duplicate a positive experience

Think about a positive thing that happened in the last 24 hours. Spent several minutes “re-living” the moment by talking about it and try to find at least 4 details about it. When you go through the particular situation one more time (positive or negative) the brain begins to magnify the significance. The more details you include in the description of the positive moment the more positive emotions you are going to receive at the end of the exercise.

3. Happy 15

Science has proved it many times, exercise makes a positive impact on our psychological state. The good news is that you don’t have to “live at the gym” 7 days a week. As little as 15 min of exercise a day can positively affect your emotional state. Take your dog for a 15 minute walk, go for a short jog, or do a simple bodyweight circuit at home.

In addition, Achor adds that out brain looks at the completed exercise activity as a victory that spreads to other actions throughout the day.

4. Meditation

Spare couple of minutes every day for doing absolutely nothing, but seating still, turning off your brain and watching your breath.  Even a very short conscious break can help you to lower your stress and bring you to the more calm and happier state.

5. Acts of kindness

Doing good for other people simply because you can is a great simulator of happiness. Try sending a positive message to a person you know in the morning, buying a coffee for a next person in line or holding a door for someone. Little things add up and they do make us happier.

6. Social connections

Social connections affect success, happiness, and even life longevity. Besides, the feeling of social support is extremely important for our happiness. That doesn’t mean we always need to be surrounded by people (some of us are introverts after all). But rather be in connection with friends, family, and people that are important to us.

Happiness is something we all have to work on. If you are currently in not so happy place – you have nothing to lose. So give these tips a try and let me know what you think.

Best wishes,

GymKat

OVERCOMING EMOTIONAL LOW

This year has proven to be “a bit” rough so far. My mom passed away from cancer less than two months ago and I just found out that my best friend passed away at approximately the same time.  The recent death of my mom brought a difficult, emotional phase into my life. It would be silly to say that I’m totally fine and things are back to normal. Finding out about a sudden death of my dear friend hammered me down a little more. He was only 36 years young. May his sweet soul rest in peace…

Anyone who has been through a loss of their mother will tell you that the feeling of this loss cannot be compared to anything else. It’s just different, it’s hard to comprehend and can only be understood once you go through it. That being said, most of us will go through it at some point in life, as this is how it is meant to be. Parents leave before the kids.

When the one who gave you life leaves this world, it changes you. Many psychologists agree that this specific event usually triggers a significant change in a child’s life. And it can be either extremely negative or positive. Sometimes a drastic change is an attempt to dull the pain of loss, sometimes it is a result of conclusions you come to after analyzing your mother’s and your own lives. And while I am not ready to share my inner world with the audience I would like to share some steps that help me overcome ANY type of emotional distress, including a loss of the loved ones.

1. Analyze the Root of your Emotions

I’m a big believer in a self-analysis. A lot of people go through life without giving a single thought to the root of their decisions. In my opinion, it is a huge mistake. If you want to change your current state, emotional or physical, first you have to answer the question – “Why you do what you do?”. What is the main reason (s) to your actions or feelings?

Writing it out every emotion you feel helps to find a reason behind it, in my opinion. Dig deep and be honest with yourself. You are already know all the reasons in your subconscious mind, you just need to see them; pronouncing them out loud and recognize them for what they are, helps to deal with the reality.

Nothing in life has a meaning aside from the meaning we give it. By changing the meaning you can change the reality.

2. You vs You

While I do believe in communication therapy (sharing with others), I also believe that it is important to give yourself time to have communication with yourself. It’s really hard to sort out “the mess” in your head when you constantly talking and listening to others. Other people have an opinion and while it could be a good opinion and meaning well, it is not necessarily what you may need. Let yourself be still for a second. No one knows you better than YOU. Go to the beach or park, meditate in a quiet room, anywhere you can relax and calm your mind. More often than not, you have to get away from a chaos of everyday life to see things with a clear head.

3. Watch your Diet

I was informed of my mom’s death at 5 am in the morning. Once I got off the phone, before I even dropped a tear, I went to the kitchen and grabbed whatever was available and started eating as if I was starving for a month. This continued for two weeks ( eventually I broke the cycle and I switched to a ketogenic diet).

It is normal and probably the most common reaction of the body to extreme emotional stress. Thanks to 6-8 hour walk every day, I didn’t gain any weight. But I have to say, diet DOES make a huge difference in your mental state. The more sugar and carbs you have the more emotionally unstable you will be. It’s a proven fact by several studies. Your brain neurons fire differently on sugar rather than on fat. Spikes in insulin also make you hungry more often and of course, more emotional. So when in distress, I always suggest decreasing carbs (not necessarily removing them completely), eliminating fast sugars and sticking with a clean diet. Supplementing with exogenous ketones, MCT oil and CBD may also be very helpful.

4. Exercise

This one can actually be tricky. Yes, exercise definitely help to boost endorphin levels BUT at times of extreme emotional distress you have to know the fine line between “I can’t” and “I can but I don’t want to”. There were days when I simply couldn’t function and even 10 min on elliptical felt like a marathon and of course, lifting weights is simply out of a question. On days like that, I would just recommend going for a short walk or lay on the beach and just give yourself a permission to do nothing.

And of course, there are days when “I CAN but don’t really want to” exercise, that’s when discipline needs to take over and you just have to go to the gym. These are the days you have to take advantage of because they will pull you out of depression fast.

5. Rest and Sleep

Everyone responds differently to stress, some lose their sleep and some can’t get out of bed. I’m the second kind. On some days I would sleep for 12-14 hours straight, I simply couldn’t stay awake. No amount of coffee or energy drinks topped with pre-workout would help me keep my eyes open.

Sleep is an essential part of a recovery. That’s when your mind gets some rest and has a chance to sort out some subconscious conflicts through your dreams. So if you find yourself dead tired most of the time – don’t fight it. Sleep it off.

On the other hand, if you have problems going to sleep, take some natural supplements like melatonin + magnesium and some ashwagandha root to help you quiet the mind and get some rest.

6. Find New Way to Express Yourself

A lot of people, including me, find it helpful to start some kind of hobby. Something you always wanted to do or something spontaneous. Art, dancing, music, sewing, nail art (in my case) or in general learning something new (like a foreign language for eg.). Concentrating on learning a new skill really takes your mind off the troubles and at the same time, helps you make a use of your negative energy.

7. Avoid alcohol and Drugs

It almost goes without saying but, unfortunately, a lot of people turn to alcohol and drugs during stressful times. We all know that addiction forming substances don’t heal the pain they simply masking it at first and with time making it only worse. So please, please! Do yourself a favor and stay away from it.

It’s o.k. not to be o.k. But it’s NOT o.k. to give up on yourself and go with the flow. I look at every emotional distress state in my life as an obstacle and problem I need to resolve. Because it is! If it prevents me from functioning properly and living my best life – it is a problem I need to fix.

There is a place for grieving, for being sad and just feeling down – it’s a healthy and necessary process, it’s a part of being a human. The problem arises when sadness turns into depression and sucks the life out of you. I think I mastered walking a fine line between sadness and depression and I have no intention of crossing over to the “dark side”. So I just wanted to share things that help me, in hopes that it would help you or someone you know as well.

Best wishes,

GymKat 🙂