Reading one of my favorite sites the other day, Danielle LaPorte, I was inspired by her article "How Do You Want It All To Feel?" in which she asks what she calls the burning question: "Your day, kissing, next success, friendships, nervous system, money-making... How do you want it all to feel?"
We are often reacting to how we feel -- or anticipating how we think something will feel -- rather than contemplating how we actually want it to feel. And, to top it off, we usually only spend time thinking about feelings when it comes to the big things -- life changes, relationships, the year ahead, etc. But what about how we want the little things to feel? The day-to-day things? What about how we want this very moment to feel?
We have more control over how we feel than we think we do. Unfortunately we don't always realize we have that control. It seems like we experience things only after the fact, recognizing our emotional state after we're already swallowed up by it. Or we experience emotions and feelings that have yet to happen. (For example, I was completely consumed by grief last weekend when I thought my beloved pup Bella was gone for good; I was experiencing an emotion for an event that had yet to happen.) Too often we don't focus on the emotional outcome we want; we only react or create emotions in our minds.
Danielle's question got me wondering: what would it be like to start off the day with an emotional game plan? What would it be like to take actions to make those emotions stick throughout the day, rather than simply allowing the day's events to govern our emotional states? I think it would be pretty great to take control over our emotions and determine how we want to feel.
Below are some ideas to help you start thinking about how you can take charge of your emotions and (hopefully!) choose to focus on the positive aspects of your life.
How to Take Charge of Today's Emotions
1. Figure out how you want to feel. Use the prompts below (and download this worksheet) to figure out how you want to feel today. I'd recommend focusing on the positive. Starting off the day with a positive mindset won't guarantee a day filled with happy and carefree emotions, but it will improve your chances of making the most of the day.
Today I want to feel....
I choose this emotion because...
I will start today off with this emotion by...
To maintain this feeling, today I will...
I want to look back on the day and feel...
2. Keep at it. Really focus on that "maintain this feeling" question and start off the day with some ideas of how you will keep at it. In every day there will be emotional roadblocks and setbacks. Identify what those might be and focus on ways to control your emotional state during them. While I don't usually recommend focusing on the negative or the what-could-go-wrongs, it wouldn't hurt to take a moment or two to identify emotional triggers and creatively combat them. (For example: If you know you're going to hit tons of aggravating traffic on the way to work, download some new songs to keep you inspired or purchase an audiobook to entertain you.)
3. Recognize + redirect. Of course choosing an ideal emotional state doesn't mean we won't have reactions to situations or events occurring throughout the day. You might start off the day declaring you want to be happy and encounter an unexpected situation that makes you extremely angry. I'm a big believer in experiencing your emotions (a positive attitude doesn't mean sticking your head in the sand and pretending everything's just peachy!) so go ahead and feel whatever emotions come your way. Just don't let them dominate your day. Recognize them and then redirect your attention to how you want to feel.
4. Stay in control. Remember: you are the one in control of your emotions. It is very tempting to blame other people, situations, or even others' emotions for the state of how we're feeling, but ultimately we have the final say over how we feel. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent," and that goes for all feelings in my opinion. Without your consent, no one else can make you feel anything. Sure, they might push your emotions in a certain direction, but you have the final say. When struggling with this, repeat this mantra: "No one can make me feel [angry/sad/upset/annoyed/etc.] without my consent!"
Emotions are tricking things and, as much as we really do have control over them, it can be hard to admit to this power we have. Admitting we are in control means we have to be accountable for how we feel, something we don't always want to do. But being accountable for your emotional state -- and choosing it on your own -- is a wonderful, powerful thing. But choosing how you want to feel -- and refusing to let anything (or anyone) stand in your way -- you can create the life you want to be living. Start with today and take it one day at a time and soon choosing your emotional state will become a habit you can't live without!