Happiness is often aligned with personal growth as if the more you improve yourself, the happier you will be. The truth is that happiness is a state of mind, it’s not a constant. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is happy all the time. Emotions, the ups and downs and everything in between, are a very healthy part of life.
I think happy hours were secretly invented to help us process our emotions. We’re either happy and wanting to enjoy that feeling with others or we’re annoyed and ready to vent. The constant need to process emotions is because our emotions are poking us, telling us that there is something that needs to be unpacked. Personal growth is a journey to gain a greater understanding of yourself, the environment around you, and what you need daily to better manage your mindset.
Since having kids, I am more aware of my emotions, my reactions, and the energy I want in the house. With kids comes heightened emotions and limited patience. On top of the everyday emotions of life, I’ve been learning how to cope with uncertainty as we navigate a Global Developmental Delay with one of our twin boys. This desire to better manage my emotions brought me to what I call “The Three A’s” – Acknowledge, Assess, take Action.
In order to understand your emotions you have to acknowledge the emotions exist. What are you feeling and why are you feeling it. In order to more efficiently manage emotions, I like to use a technique I learned from my toddlers. When you are feeling those emotions, always ask yourself “why” (why do I feel this way, why does that bother me, etc.) and then keep asking why until you get to the root of your emotions.
Many times, when we are sad, we want to distract ourselves in an attempt to blow over our sadness and get back to being happy. Unfortunately, emotions don’t work that way. When we ignore our emotions, while they may disappear for a moment, they will always find their way back. And when ignored emotions have had time to fester, they come back with intensity.
While negative emotions can fester, if we don’t acknowledge positive emotions, they are gone before we can truly take them in. If you are having a moment of joy, make sure to acknowledge it. Be present and soak in that positivity! I’m sure you’ve heard the saying to “take a mental picture” or “stop and smell the roses”. These sayings are an attempt to get us to slow down, live in the present, and embrace those moments of joy.
Especially during these difficult times, I try hard to focus on the positive. I hold my kids tighter, practice daily gratitude, and more than ever, appreciate the simple things in life.
Assessment of your emotions is critical. While some emotions need to be addressed others simply need to be acknowledged so that you can move on. The way to decide whether you need to take action or acknowledge and move on, is whether or not you have control over the situation. Is there an action you can take that would help address the root cause of your emotions.
For example, if I’m driving down the freeway and someone cuts me off, my first reaction is anger and probably some choice words. It’s OK to be angry and feel emotions. Now, is it something that I have control over? No. So I move on with my day. You could dwell on it all day, tell everyone you know about the jerk driver that cut you off, but you are just delaying your own peace of mind. If you don’t have control, acknowledge the emotion, sit with it as long as needed to feel the emotions, and then move on.
It isn’t always easy to move on and for me, it’s a daily practice of acknowledging but not dwelling. Those emotions are taking up space in your brain and time from your day. Clear your mind so that you can better focus your energy where you can make a difference. I spend most of my time focused on things I can control.
Spending so much time with Matthew at his therapy sessions, I could see that Colin was getting jealous. He was demanding my time instead of his normal regular desire to be around mommy. I first acknowledged that this made me feel sad that Colin was feeling left out. It also made me worry about the future and long term effects of him thinking he was second best. Acknowledging emotions, check! Do I have control over this? Yes. I can find ways to spend more quality time with Colin and my ability to take action is set in motion.
My husband always says “Circle of Influence, Circle of Control” which is a variation of Stephen Covey’s “Circle of Concern, Circle of Control”. Both are meant to highlight that while we may have a lot of concerns in life, there are only so many things that we can actually control. I use this mantra in all areas of my life when I start to feel overwhelmed.
When I spoke above about Colin and wanting to spend more quality time with him, I started him in a mommy and me gymnastics class. He loves climbing and is fearless and gymnastics gives him something that he is excited about but also give us our one-on-one time.
Just the simple action of signing him up for class immediately made those initial emotions go away. It’s not that the problem is magically solved but I can rest easier knowing that I’ve taken one small action to address my worry and fear. When your emotions are nudging you, and you have control, it’s time to take action. Remember, action can be asking for help, support, and additional resources. You don’t have to solve everything on your own.
The 3 A’s can help guide you through the simplest of emotions to the toughest of times. Some roads will be longer but know that each emotion is an opportunity to Acknowledge, Assess and if needed, take Action. Don’t let what you can’t control take control over your day. If you can, take action. As you take time to learn more about yourself, you will grow. You will be able to better navigate your emotions, be present more often, and see positives in every day. Finding your happy not just at happy hour. Cheers to that.