The Link Between Emotion and Energy
If you want to start feeling more energetic and getting more done then it is important to think about the way you are managing your emotion. Emotion and energy levels are intimately linked and understanding this connection is the key for many people who want to feel more awake and productive.
Why Emotion Affects Energy
The brain is essentially a large web of connected neurons which psychologists call the 'connectome'. This connectome fires as we experience various things in the world or as we remember certain things and this then creates a variety of different subjective experiences for us.
At the same time though, our brain's unconscious processes pay close attention to the nature of what we're focused on and then produce neurotransmitters accordingly. If what you're seeing is important then your brain will produce things like dopamine which make us more motivated and help us to remember things better. If what we're seeing makes us scared and is at all associated with pain or bad things happening, we'll produce norepinephrine (adrenaline) and become more focused and anxious.
These same things then in turn affect energy levels. When we're alert and focused, this triggers changes in the sympathetic nervous system that increase our heartrate, our circulation and muscle tone all to make us more switched on and productive.
On the other hand, when something seems dull and uninteresting, our brain tells us we're safe and able to go back to relaxing. Thus it will produce GABA and melatonin which settle us down and make us sleep.
The Optimum Emotional State for Energy
Boredom then is absolutely fatal for energy levels. If you find your energy flagging one of the very best things you can possibly do is to switch up your environment or make the task you're performing more interesting. This will immediately tell your brain something interesting is going on and you'll become more alert and awake again.
This is also why depression and sadness are so bad for your energy levels. When you're depressed you struggle to be interested in anything or to care about anything. By doing something that makes you happy you can produce serotonin and oxytocin which will make you more positive and interested again. This is why spending time with friends, laughing or even exercising are so energizing.
Understand this link and change the way you perceive certain events and you can raise your energy levels throughout the day!
Setting Up Your Environment for a Better Self-Image
Our environment dictates how we will behave. If we live in a bad neighborhood, we will always be on the watch for crime. Crime can happen in good neighborhoods too, but the chances are less. Environment plays an important role when trying to set up a positive self-image. The wrong settings will make it much harder to accomplish. Use the following to create an environment that raises your chances of success.
Although more of a mental environment setting, meditation can be a great way to clear your mind, focus on good mental images, and reduce stress. The benefits of meditation are numerous. For instance, people who meditate reduce their risk of disease. They tend to be less depressed and have less anxiety. But perhaps one of the most important benefits of meditation is control of mind. This is a crucial aspect of maintaining a positive self-image. Your mind is clearer, your memory is better, and you can focus more easily.
Avoid Negative People
If you are constantly surrounded by negative people, it is going to be difficult not to be sucked into that negativity. The best solution for this is to avoid these people altogether. This may be easier said than done when you have no choice but to deal with them, sometimes on a daily basis. But you have to do your best in minimizing contact with these people.
Increase Exposure to Positive People
If you cannot avoid negative people, try increasing your exposure to positive people, which you should do anyway. Positive people are easier to hang out with. They will be helpful to you and will make you happier overall. They can also point out when you are making negative statements and help you adjust back to positive ones. Their positivity becomes addictive.
Get Your Financial Situation in Order
One of the biggest stresses in life comes from not having your financial situation in order. Take the steps necessary to make sure that this is not an issue with your life. If it means working more hours or taking on a second job, that is what you should consider. Keep in mind that when you gain a more positive self-image, your work situation and prospects for employment are going to improve. So you will not have to work extra hours for any extended period.
Setting up the foundation that is the most optimal for creating a positive self-image will go a long way in helping you provide a better life for you and your family.
Negative Habits and a Positive Outlook
We’ve all been unhappy at one time or another. Yet, when you look back at an unhappy time in your life, did you really want to be there? Did you actually want to be unhappy? You see, unhappy people do not want to be unhappy. They are just the same as successful people. They want to achieve goals and get to where they want to be. They want to make their dreams a reality and change their own personal circumstance in the process. In short, unhappy people want to be happy. So, why aren’t they?
The main reason is that unhappiness produces stressful and unhappy emotions. This stress and these emotions combine to cause unhappy people to take actions that are designed to keep them stuck in the very situation that makes them unhappy. They actually begin to develop the habit of being unhappy. Yes, you read that correctly. Unhappiness can be a habit. So can under productivity. So can failure. Any negative emotion can and will become habitual if experienced long enough. Negative thoughts produce negative actions which cause negative results. These negative results, in turn, produce more negative thoughts that reinforce the process. The end result is a habitual and cyclical negativity.
Habits occur because the brain loves to be economical. You see, thinking about something costs calories. Habitual behavior is largely unthinking behavior. So, when habits form, the brain becomes more efficient in how it uses energy. This is a biological imperative that developed back in the days when we hunted and gathered food that was scarce. The more you can “autopilot” behavior, the less likely it is that you’re going to starve.
Breaking negative habitual behaviors isn’t hard if you approach the problem correctly. The first step is to recognize the negative behavior for what it is. Remember, habits are ingrained, unthinking behaviors. Many times, people with bad habits don’t know they have them. To find a negative habit, you have to look for repetitive actions. Are there things you do, time and time again, that always turn our badly? There’s your negative habitual behavior.
Once you identify the bad habit, you begin to take conscious steps to modify the negative behavior. This means that you act contrary to the way you usually act under the circumstances. In other words, if you usually turn right in a given situation, you force yourself to turn left. You do the opposite of what it is you usually do. The end result is that you begin to break the habitual behavior that has been causing you so much trouble.
Can You Achieve Happiness by Faking It?
Have you ever put a smile on your face when you just weren’t feeling it? It’s hard to do, but the results are much better than if you frown. There are events and periods of time that truly test our strength and threaten to destroy the happiness that took so long to find.
Although the word, “fake” implies that you’re being deceitful, it may be a good tactic to use when you’re feeling down and out and need a boost to your well-being.
Most of us aren’t comfortable with not telling the truth, so faking happiness may not appeal to you at first. But, going through the day with a positive outlook – even though you may feel the opposite – can actually bring feelings of happiness.
It could be because of the way others react toward your demeanor. If you’re sad and downcast, others will treat you differently than if you approach them smiling and self-confident.
Several phrases that have developed over time seem to validate faking happiness to achieve it. “Grin and bear it,” and “Turn your smile upside down,” are just a couple of cliché phrases that indicate you should smile when you don’t really feel it – but eventually the feelings will be real.
Dozens of studies have been performed on the subject of happiness. One telling study had persons holding a pencil in their teeth causing them to smile – while other persons held the pencil with their lips, mimicking a frown.
Then, both groups were asked to look at cartoons. Those with the fake smiles rated the cartoons much funnier than those with frowns, indicating that even fake smiles can cause a higher level of happiness.
A recent test on those whose abilities to frown were impaired by Botox injections were happier than those who could frown easily. That study also indicates that even a fake smile is better than none at all.
Those who lack confidence are sometimes told by counselors and life coaches to fake self-esteem and confidence – just to see how it feels. Those who act more confidently than they feel are better able to project confidence to others.
Know that you don’t need to be happy all the time. Having periods of being unhappy can better help you focus on what needs to be changed in your life so you can recognize happiness when you do find it.
Finding a “happy balance” is a better way to pursue happiness and help you cope with anything that comes your way. By recognizing the emotions you’re feeling, you’ll become much better at coping with them.
How to Deal With a Difficult Emotion Using Mindfulness
Mindfulness has a great many uses and is often prescribed by self-help gurus, doctors, writers and others as a tool anyone can use to improve their mental health.
Often this focusses on the long-term benefits of being more present and aware. At the same time though, mindfulness can also be used like a scalpel to deal with more acute problems. Here we will look at how it can be leveraged for instance to tackle specific emotions as they arise.
Turning Towards Emotions
Normally when we experience negative emotions, we react either by trying to ‘fight them’ or by trying to suppress them. This can be described as almost ‘turning away’ from our emotions to try and deny them their power over us.
Unfortunately, this ultimately tends to result in our becoming more stressed or upset as the emotions bubble under the surface, or as we frustrate ourselves in trying to fight them.
Instead though, mindfulness teaches us to turn towards our emotions. What this means, is that you are going to listen to the thoughts and feelings you’re experiencing and then simply acknowledge them. Now you say ‘I am stressed’, ‘I am embarrassed’ or ‘I am upset’. Don’t be ashamed or upset that emotion exists but simply recognize that you are currently in that state.
People get upset sometimes. People get angry sometimes. But if you’re simply aware of your condition, then you can be aware that perhaps the thoughts you’re thinking aren’t completely objective. What’s more, you should keep hold of the knowledge that emotions aren’t permanent. In other words, you’re feeling angry right now and as such your thoughts shouldn’t be taken too seriously. But in a few hours, you will likely feel better and then the world will seem like a brighter place again.
This creates a subtle but powerful shift. No longer is the world a terrible place and thus you are upset, now you are upset and thus the world seems like a terrible place. The difference is that you now know that belief is not true.
What’s more, being aware and accepting of your emotions in this way will allow you to assess them in a kind of ‘debriefing’ and to look at what triggered them, how you dealt with them and what they made you think and do. The more you break down and intellectualize your emotions, the more you will find you gain control over them.