Are You a Good Listener or a Good Speaker? Here's How to Be Both.

sense skills image.png

Did you know that your facial features are a good indication of your strongest sense? If you have big ears, you're a good listener. If your mouth is large, you're a great public speaker…

I'm kidding! That old folklore is absurd – but feeling connected to our stronger (and weaker) senses can be incredibly helpful.

As a therapist, I constantly need to incorporate all of the senses. But most importantly, I am there to listen first. And I mean really listen. Only then can I interpret and reflect back what I'm hearing.

Listening is my most valuable tool, and I happen to be good at it. How? Well, it didn't happen overnight: it took years of training and practice.

Making Sense of Our Senses

What is your most valuable sense? And how can you work on improving it? In photography, seeing is a skill. In the culinary arts, taste is a skill. Like all senses, listening is a skill too – and all skills require practice to get stronger.

Each of us prioritize the use of different skills in our work lives. But we all need to be good listeners and communicators when it comes to our interpersonal relationships.

Let’s say that you're great at getting your point across. Your choice of vocabulary, tone, and subject matter is always well-received. While that's a crucial skill, how are you at relaying back what someone else has said? What about listening for additional meaning beneath a person’s chosen words?

On the flip-side, perhaps you are amazing at parroting back a message that was relayed to you. Maybe your listening ability makes you a master at interpreting what others are saying. But when it comes to speaking your mind, do you often find yourself at a loss for words?

Honing Your Skills

The best way to heighten our senses is to be honest with ourselves. "What areas am I good at, and which do I need to work on?"

If You Need to Work on Listening…

Instead of being the one who always speaks up in a one-on-one conversation, try staying quiet and letting the other person fill in the empty spaces. Further, instead of interjecting with a new concept or idea, try asking questions to get clarity on what they just said. Once you're sure you heard their idea, repeat it back to them using a phrase like, “So, what I’m hearing you say is…”

Pretend as though you’re on a fact-finding mission and get as much clarity as you can!

If Speaking Isn't Your Forte…

Find a person who is willing to listen and practice with them. Start by communicating how you feel about something. Often, a feeling is one of the hardest things to formulate. If you can start with that, then you have already overcome one of the most typical hurdles.

For example, if you were to say, “I am really excited about this opportunity!" you would be using a feeling as an opener. This helps endear the listener to you and personalize the experience. Then, you'd try to prioritize the most important points you’re trying to make. The simpler the better when you're making a point. Too much embellishment leads to unnecessary details that can lose the listener's attention.

Find Your Role Model

Whether you need to work on speaking or listening, time some time to observe someone in your life with that skillset. Notice what it is that they do to be successful in that area. At first, mimicking someone can help you embody behaviors – and it won't be long before you're initiating it on your one.

Alternatively, you can also come right out and ask the person what makes them such a good listener or speaker. The compliment will certainly be well-received, and they may have specific advice to help you on your journey to improving the skill.

While we each have our own natural talents, it’s always a good idea to work on improving areas of communication. It will help you create more meaningful connections, guaranteed!

How to Always Pursue Happiness

pursuit of happiness image.jpg

As all Americans know, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" are inalienable rights. They're not privileges, they're rights. As such, we are all encouraged to pursue and define our happiness as we each see fit (as long as it doesn't impede another's happiness, of course!)

However, like all rights, we still need to make the choice to pursue it. While most of us can grasp the concept of pursuing what makes us happy, the ability to do that often requires a shift in perspective.

Shifting Your Perspective

Your happiness becomes tangible the moment you decide to do something about it. Much like dating, it is near-impossible to meet someone if you never leave your couch. Unless the pizza delivery person is single or you take the enormous risk of inviting someone over off a dating app, finding the right person takes action.

The same is true for finding your bliss.

In a previous blog, I go over some tips to reach happiness on a more consistent basis. But the first step is recognizing you're unhappy – or not as happy as you could be. Since happiness is a choice, so too is unhappiness. Our inalienable right is the pursuit of happiness. That phrasing reinforces the fact that there is some chase and effort involved.

Happiness on a Situation-to-Situation Basis

You can look at every situation differently. In fact, it's within that variety of perspectives that makes it possible to find happiness from one situation to the next. Of course, sad news without an obvious silver lining will eventually arise. But even then, you can decide how best to take care of yourself and get to a place of calmness, peace, and, eventually, happiness.

The key? The ability to shift perspective as the need occurs.

For example, say someone is going through a divorce – and it's a muddy and drawn-out process. You can choose to focus on what’s being taken away and the grief of loss. Or, you can choose to focus on what new opportunities lie ahead — and the prospect of a fresh connection with someone new.

If you're grateful for your current experience, you have control over your perspective. The more you engage in this practice, the better you'll be at stringing together longer moments of satisfaction – which leads to an enduring sensation of happiness.

A Journey Worth Embarking On

Remember: happiness is a journey that takes chasing and endurance.  There is nothing passive about the word "pursuit." Doesn't it make you imagine law enforcement going after a suspect? It's a word that strong implies acting with purpose – and purpose requires a crystal-clear goal.

Besides choosing to be happy, it is important to get clear with yourself on what you believe contributes to your happiness. A winning equation would be:

Action + Choice + Perspective + Gratitude = Consistent, Long-Term Happiness.

 

 

Personal Shame Can Be Good. Toxic Shame…Not So Much.  

shame image.jpg

Social media "gurus" are making countless videos on the subject of shame, which has ignited many conversations with my clients. Our discussions lead to realizations that range from inspiring and uplifting to shock and relief, because many don't know that there are two forms of shame: healthy and toxic.

I've researched the concepts of shame, guilt, and remorse at great length. And I've delved even deeper into the idea of shame as a motivator. The key finding: the negative effects of toxic shame versus the positive motivation of personal shame.

Toxic shame comes from the outside; i.e., from a friend, family member, or stranger. That type of shame is considered toxic, and it does NOT motivate a positive change in behavior.

I tested this concept recently during one of my addiction groups. I showed them a "fat shaming" video and asked how it would make them feel if someone made the same type of video for "addiction shaming." I asked, "Would it motivate you to stop your negative behaviors?"

The resounding consensus: it would not. In fact, many group members shared stories of friends and family who had used shame and blame as a tactic – and how it drove them to drink more, score more drugs, or isolate even further.

However, shame felt on a personal level can be a strong motivational factor for some. The key here is that the individual needs to experience the shame from their own ego, their own core self. That's what creates the dynamic shift that results in a change in behavior.

Most of us know the discomfort of feeling ostracized from family or friends because of something we did. It makes us feel alone and isolated. From there, it becomes a loneliness cycle, one that promotes more toxic shame and negative behaviors.

Connection and transparency, on the other hand, create an expressway to healing and clarity.

Shame may be tempting to use as motivational tool. But it really only works on the self. And when you do experience personal shame and remorse, the key is to feel it, let it drive you, and then learn to let it go.

shame image 2.jpg

 

The Balance Between Courage and Kindness

have courage and be kind.jpg

Having courage and kindness are both hailed in our society. But we often make the mistake of separating the two. Instead, let's consider the fact that courage and kindness are intrinsically linked.

“Have Courage and Be Kind.” – Cinderella

In the 2015 live action telling of the Cinderella fairytale, the Princess makes a point to remind herself and those around her to have courage and to be kind. (It has an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, see it!)

But these are particularly inspirational words to live by, and I'm drawn to them because it appeals so well to both our strong and gentle sides – and promotes a good balance between the two.

What does it mean to "have courage"?

Having courage means stepping outside of your comfort zone AND doing something worthwhile. Of course, bravery has different levels. But it all starts with taking a personal risk. You can be courageous by standing up for yourself. Standing up for others. Speaking truth that's likely difficult for others to hear.

Courage takes reaching down to a very primal place. It means following your gut instinct, to take action and do the right thing – despite the potential consequences.

We often describe our servicemen and women as brave and courageous for their willingness to put their very lives on the line for the betterment of others.

But sometimes, courage means simply not giving up. A brave person is one who does all they can to keep their spirit and willpower ignited.

In Cinderella, she doesn't allow her spirit to break by the cruelty of her step-family. She stays true to her gut instinct at all times. And yet her kindness remains.

What does it mean to "be kind"?

Put simply, kindness is when you take others into consideration when making a choice. For example, if you saw someone drop their wallet on the sidewalk, you'd have three choices. You could continue on uninterrupted (neutral choice). You could keep the wallet (cruel choice). Or you could stop and return their lost possession (kind choice).

Where there is kindness, there is goodness, and where there is goodness, there is magic.
— Cinderella

But kindness can be subtler, especially when combined with courage. Consider this: you're about to speak a truth that might be difficult for someone to hear. Those words never need to be cruel or punishing. When you word your truth in a way that considers the other person's feelings, you're making a kind decision while taking a brave stance.

Further, kindness comes through in your tone and the overall energy that you give off. Can't you often tell just by looking at someone whether they're likely kind and open? It's in the facial expression, body language, eye contact, and so on. Beyond how your words come out, consider how you're coming off too.

Combining Kindness and Courage

It can be a challenge to find the sweet spot between standing up for your beliefs while not imposing them on others. Saying what needs to be said is brave; doing so gracefully is kind.

You've probably heard that being kind can make you a pushover. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Kindness when it's undeserved or unexpected (or both) is an act of pure strength and willpower. And frankly, if you're a kind person (and you know you are), it's courageous to stay true to who you are at your core.

Most circumstances in our lives are out of control. Yet we're always accountable to how we react to those circumstances. But when we make both courage and kindness our guiding principles, we can stay on course to happiness.

 

 

 

How to Overcome Feeling Overwhelmed

overwhelmed image.jpeg

We all feel overwhelmed from time to time. We might be juggling too many commitments, dealing with work pressures, or navigating relationship expectations. Combine that with everyday chores, keeping up with social media and the latest trends, and finding the time to relax? I'm getting overwhelmed just listing it all out!

And when we get overwhelmed, it triggers our flight or fight response. As a result, we tend to make hasty decisions to alleviate some of the anxiety and confusion, which is never a good idea. Instead, we need to change our relationship with "feeling overwhelmed" by learning how to deal with it – and move on from it.

Short Term Tools You Can Use in the Moment

Feeling overwhelmed can come out of nowhere. Here are some tricks you can use to deal with it as it's happening:

Rewind: Recognize your discomfort as well as your rush to get out of that state of mind. Sure, we hate discomfort, but within that moment is a real chance to figure out what's challenging you. Getting specific about your discomfort is a great way to sharpen your weapons against it.

Reset: Pause and take a few breaths. Take six long, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Reflect. Repeat. Move forward.

Fast Forward: Literally! Travel into the future. Visualize the clear paths ahead, where everything is calm and works out for the best.

Long Term Tools You Can Use Right Now

Limit Screen Time: Including social media, because way too much information is out there for us to consume regularly and stay balanced. Use your phone with intent rather than being motivated by compulsion. Otherwise, you'll waste idle time scrolling, which fills the mind with useless (and potentially toxic) content.

Don't Procrastinate: Feel like you always have too much to do? First, figure out if you can get rid of anything from your calendar. Second, set a strict schedule for one week (including time to relax) and adjust accordingly. It won't be long before you're a lot better at managing your time.

Let It Out as It Comes: Let out feelings on a slow drip rather than holding onto them until they burst out. Not being able to share how we feel when we really need to vent is exhausting. Instead of letting many things pile up emotionally, make sure you’re using an outlet to express how you feel as it comes up. Manageable doses of relief are crucial to peace of mind.

Set a Goal: And make sure that each decision moves you in that direction. For example, let’s say your goal is to adopt a more positive mindset. Every time you're faced with a choice throughout your daily life, make your decision with that goal in mind. Soon, you'll notice an overall, positive shift in your mindset.

Be Joyful: What brings you joy? Make sure you know what makes you smile and fills you up. When the overwhelm comes knocking, you can tap into a resource that counteracts that negativity. If you can’t seem to pull yourself away from feeling overwhelmed, find the time for some fun and lighthearted activity to help balance you out. Not only does it free the mind, it gives you something to always look forward to.

Always Remember

Feeling overwhelmed stems from the myth that you have to figure everything out, all at once. But when you can separate items out—and look at one decision at a time—your to-do list will seem much more manageable.

 

 

 

 

Your Head vs. Your Heart vs. Your Gut: Who Wins?

head heart gut.jpg

What do you do when you have a decision to make – but feel torn about what to do? Sure, you can

make a pros and cons list. That can be a truly helpful tool for your brain, but it can leave out the key

ingredients of decision-making: what’s in your heart, and what your gut instinct is telling you.

All too often, the head, heart, and gut are framed as an internal battle. But really, they can all work

together to formulate a fuller picture, one that delivers vivid clarity.

Putting the Concept into Action

For an example of the above mentioned, let’s say you’re choosing between your top two choices for

college.

Thinking with your head means you’re reminding yourself of the facts, logistics, and analytics of a

situation. In this college scenario, perhaps you would highlight location, cost of tuition, or if they offer

public transportation around campus and beyond.

Considering your heart is when you embrace emotional responses and the overall romance of the

situation. When you visited the campuses, what feelings are stirred? Is there a family alma mater to

honor, or a fun social element worthy of your immersion? And which of the two campuses were harder

to leave?

Following your gut instinct is when your (literal) gut/stomach gives you signs and signals about which

choice is more aligned with your core self. For most, it feels like a churning in the pit of your stomach, or

a hollowness. Intuition is usually sparked when there’s a clash between the head and the heart, a

referee who comes in to settle the score.

If your gut doesn’t feel clear, your head and heart likely haven’t gathered enough information to feel

comfortable enough to move forward with a choice.

If the gut is quiet, it’s because it needs more information from the head and the heart.

The Head, Heart, and Gut are Intrinsically Connected

Let’s work with a more sensitive conflict.

In this example, you’re trying to decide if you should stay in a relationship or if it’s time to leave. With

these more personal scenarios, it’s beneficial to give each category an actual voice, and to allow yourself

to hear what the head, heart and gut are saying to you. Here’s some potential dialogue:

Head: “We’ve invested so much time in each other. It would be very inconvenient to have to move out. I

don’t know how I will afford someplace else. We work so well together on paper.”

Heart: “I really love them and don’t want to see them hurt. Maybe we can work it out. I’ve always

imagined myself with someone just like them. They can probably change for the better.”

Gut: “Do not settle. It doesn’t feel good to settle. You have one life to live, you deserve better than to

settle.”

Usually, the gut doesn’t have to say much to confirm what you already knew.

But, as mentioned above, if the gut is quiet, it’s because it needs more information from the head and

heart.

In this “leave them or don’t” relationship example, the person may need to ask their partner to go to

counseling with them. Based off their response (and how the sessions go), the gut will have more

groundwork to draw from.

The head, heart, and gut work in tandem to make you feel more at ease as you navigate life’s

crossroads.

So, make sure that you truly give room to all three before you sign any (literal or figurative) contracts!

The Price of Ambition: Self-Love vs. Self-Acceptance

self love.jpg

They may sound similar, but self-love is different from self-acceptance. Both are certainly necessary for success, but only one promotes your best self in the long run: self-love. Where self-acceptance can often equal a complacency that slows your drive and motivation, self-love requires you to be critical of yourself.

Wait! Don't go! It's not as scary as it sounds.

That's because self-love means being kind to yourself. It means finding things that keep you functioning and filled up emotionally. Sometimes, we can't just accept where we are, even if it's easier. No, especially if it's easier. Sometimes, we have to fight with ourselves because we shouldn't accept our current state. We all have those moments where we need to look in the mirror and say: "I can do better than this."

When Self-Love and Self-Acceptance Intersect

It's true, they can become one! And surprisingly, it's all summed up in this simple phrase:

 “I love myself so much that I will only accept my best.”

Repeat it. Say it to yourself in the mirror. Make it your mantra. Why? Because it's true! Listen, you need to learn to accept the things you have no control over. We all do. If for nothing else, do it for your sanity. If it's unchangeable, it's pointless to try and change it.

But you can do something about how your body performs. You can go to bed early and wake up feeling better. You can improve on how you interact with others and communication.

What's the Right Way to Critique Myself?

When you’re being critical of yourself, there is a way to do it without being cruel. Think of yourself the same way you'd think of a coworker. You have feelings too, and you're probably the best equipped to hurt them. And don't forget: criticizing yourself is not a bad thing. It’s for the betterment of you! Talk about motivating.

Here are 5 ways to constructively criticize yourself:

1.       Never name call. No words like “idiot,” “dumb,” “lame," etc. Too much of that, and you might actually start believing it. It's not true, so stop!

2.       Criticize and then move forward. You made a mistake, don’t dwell. You can't go back in time.

3.       Be specific with what you want to change. E.g., "I DO NOT want to change my love for video games, but I DO want to regulate how often I play."

4.       Remind yourself of how you feel when you don’t live up to your own standards. At the same time, remind yourself how you feel when you do!

5.       Make sure that this is something YOU want to change. Are you doing it for others? That breeds resentment, which is woefully counterproductive.

If you are never criticized, you may not be doing much that makes a difference.

The Wrong Way to Self-Criticize

Don't wake up for the fifth day in a row of binge-gaming and head to work looking like a trash panda. Self-acceptance in that regard is self-destruction, because something needs to change. You're not at your best, so you'd be missing the self-love part.

For this example, you'd develop the mantra: “I love that I am into video games and that playing helps me relax. But I do not accept that I can’t control how long I play. I can't accept how it affects my work life either."

Now that is some productive self-love – with a dash of necessary criticism.

In Conclusion

Don’t hate yourself. That never gets you anywhere. Indulge in the things that make you happy and make you feel loved, but do so in moderation. When you reach a point of going overboard with anything, it’s time to question your level of self-acceptance and go into edit mode (AKA, self-love).

As the Serenity Prayer goes, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

 

5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Stay Emotionally Prepared

entrepreneur race.jpg

As an entrepreneur, you get credit for the success of your company – and blamed for its failure. That level of pressure is no joke.

In the beginning stages of your business, you hold multiple roles. You're the marketing guru and the financial analyst. You’re constantly googling strategies while mastering skills you never thought you’d need. And while people closest to you will tell you to relax and balance your life, you're in hustle mode. You can't relax in the way people think you should. Who has time for that?

Well, there's some wisdom to their advice. Making time for your emotional health is scientifically proven to strengthen your awareness, memory, attention span, and empathy, all while lowering stress and blood pressure.

Here are five strategies you can implement today that have both you and your company in mind.

1. Take the Time to Slow Your Brain

If downtime makes you feel anxious, you still need to find a way to quiet your entrepreneurial brain. Whether through exercise, meditation, hobbies, or sex, it's important to get out of your head and into your body.

Further, when you’re the one in charge of the bottom line, you relate to time differently. The hours of the day are fleeting to you. No start and end times exist for your work schedule either. That can severely affect sleep cycles if you don’t find a routine. Sleep deprivation is a productivity killer and dramatically increases your risk of making mistakes.

2. Keep a Strict Sleep Schedule

Stay disciplined with your bed and wakeup times. You should also have a winddown routine, wherein you bridge the gap between work mode and sleep mode. It's crucial on both a physical and emotional level.

3. Remember That This Isn't Personal. It's Business.

You’re going to have to say no. A lot. For every person you inspire, there's someone you'll disappoint. You will have to cut people out of your life. You'll have to make new connections with those who support your overall goals.

With this in mind, you'll start to develop a keen sense for who GIVES you energy and who TAKES it from you. The people you started your journey with may not be the same people who help you reach your goals. Take comfort in knowing that you have your business’s success in mind. You're not making cuts as a personal affront, you're making savvy business decisions that stay true to your mission statement.

4. Be Clear on Your Mission Statement

Your mission statement can serve as a moral compass as you continue to make critical decisions. If you base your mission statement on positivity, you will have an easier time connecting with your consumers. Don't be afraid to refer back to it often. Consider hanging it up.

mission statement.jpg

5. "Quality Time" Is Cliché for a Reason

The entrepreneurial spirit is hard to tame. Once you have a great idea, you immediately start plotting and planning to make it work. This desire to execute can often make you appear as though your brain is anywhere else except in the present moment. That can make those around you may feel ignored or less than a priority.

When you’re going after it hard, your outlook on quality time can change. Prepare your friends and family by setting realistic expectations of how you'll plan to spend your time.

In addition, you will need support. That means you need to say what that looks like for you. These may lead to some challenging conversations, but it’s best to be upfront with expectations as you create your company. Quality time is important. It's important for all entrepreneurs to actively keep that in mind.

Takeaway

Successfully navigating the entrepreneurial route takes a lot of emotional strength. That's why it's so essential to keep your mental and physical health in mind. It's too easy to get caught up in the future. Next thing you know, and after it's too late, you'll wish you could take a step back.

Entrepreneurialism is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep at a pace that works for you, and remember to ask for what you need.

 

 

Five Tips to “Winning” the next Argument with Your Partner

All couples fight, regardless of how great their partnership is. From who’s in charge of the dishes to what the right college is for the kids, being with a partner long-term means having a say, and trying to do it the right way! 

fighting couple.jpg

So, since conflict is bound to happen, here are some tips to keep your fights above the belt and constructive, instead of destructive in your relationship.

Important Note: In these five things, it’s crucial to remember that the greatest tool overall is appreciation for your partner. When you show appreciation for your partner for the small things, you will both store up that positivity and then draw from that reserve when things get tough. 

  1. Slow Down and Listen:  Fighting occurs because  two people are making assumptions and then making statements. Don’t just wait for your turn to speak…truly listen, and then ask a follow-up question to understand more about what they are saying. Try saying something like “tell me more about that” to encourage better understanding.

  2. Be the ‘Sportscaster’:  When you are really listening to your partner, you are able to repeat back what they are saying to you, without any emotion attached. “So, what I hear you saying is that you are upset with me because I made plans without checking with you first.” It’s called the “Sportscasting” technique because you are simply translating the facts of the situation as they are being played out. Challenge yourself to simply check in and make sure that you understand what they are saying.

  3. Watch your Boundaries and “Contracts”: When we are argue, out heart rates increase due to a surge of adrenaline. When your body is prepped to fight, you need to breathe deeply and ask for a moment to collect yourself. You can set a boundary by leaving the room for a moment and asking for space. (Disclaimer: If you ARE going to leave the conversation, you need to make a contract to return to it later so that the other person doesn’t feel abandoned or that you are avoiding the conflict altogether.)

  4. Be Mindful When Using Your Memory: Trying to reconstruct a past event while fighting is one of the most common and frustrating mistakes because we always do it from the state of mind we are currently experiencing. No doubt, you will recall the event from a negative state of mind when you are already fighting with someone. Avoid fact-checking against each other because this can create a whole new level to the disagreement. Instead of focusing on the “he said/she said” of the situation, stay in the present and focus on the present feelings.

  5. Watch the Yellow Lights and Red Lights: Pay attention to the signs within yourself that indicate that you might be nearing your limit. At all costs, avoid cussing at your partner, calling them names, and using extremes such as always and never. Those words tend to stick with people, therefore causing resentment that will be carried into the next conflict.

yellow light.jpg

The most “successful” arguments are the ones where you can safely share the way you feel and not be on the defense the whole time. Arguments should allow you to air out your grievances, ultimately allowing you to feel closer and better understood by your partner.



Life Hack Your Way to Happy

happy choice.jpg

Some say that happiness is a choice, and where they may be some psychological pushback to that statement, the fundamentals of the concept are true. All of us have had the experience of waking up on the wrong side of the bed and immediately recognizing that we are a major “crankypants.” Sometimes, it’s simply because we didn’t get enough sleep, or tweaked a part of our body while sleeping. Perhaps remnants of a bad dream are lingering in waking hours. You might be ruminating on a deeper issue at work or in your personal life, and those thoughts are dominating your happy/carefree time. Whatever the cause, we do have a choice to get out of the funk, which usually involves changing our perspective,and/ or relationship to the stimuli around us.

Now of course, just being cranky is different than feeling fundamentally unhappy at your core. Pervasive unhappiness or unease can be labeled as depression, and it can feel incredibly heavy. Suffering from a long-term bout of unhappiness can stem from many areas, but for the most part, it can be narrowed down to fit into one of these categories.

life hacks.jpg

1.       Fear: This is intended to be a broad category, as it addresses many subtopics, such as self-esteem. A lack of self-esteem is typically a fear of not being good enough or being afraid that you are not living up to standards/expectations from yourself and/or others. Fear can also be associated with loss or being alone; never finding “the one” or losing someone/something important in your life.

2.       Lack of drive; nothing to look forward to; bored: Many of us will never feel like we are fulfilling our true potential because we waste so much time doing nothing. We have so much choice these days that it can be paralyzing to have to choose what to do, therefore leaving us feeling empty. Without a long-term goal to keep working towards, we can feel rudderless.

3.       Conflict with self or others: This is a beast of a category right here as it truly covers the bases when it comes to deep unhappiness. When we are engaging in an activity or life choice that takes us away from who we are at out core, we will inevitably feel conflict, and unease. When we are in conflict with another person, it can feel just as daunting as we struggle to find the right course of action with the least amount of consequences.

With these many varying degrees of unhappiness, getting out of the feeling boils down to making tiny choices throughout the day that help lead you back to feeling more stable and on top of things. If you don’t have the bandwidth presently to do the deeper work, then here are some life hack tools to guide you back into a more positive place.

-Distance yourself from the feeling: Use language such as I FEEL unhappy, as opposed to I AM unhappy. The feeling is fleeting, not a permanent state of being.

-Name the emotion as something other than it is: You may be experiencing what you label as "unhappiness" in your body, ie: tension in your shoulders, an upset stomach, headaches. That’s your body’s emotional response. The feeling can be whatever you want to name it. You can rename it as excitement or anticipation for a change.

-Acknowledge that its hard not to think about: Sometimes unhappiness comes from obsessing over something we have no control over. If you acknowledge to yourself that it’s hard not to think about, and give yourself a little break, it can eliminate some of the guilt of the obsession, which in turn helps you ruminate less.

-Fake it till you make it: Act like a happier happy version of yourself. You’ve been happy before, and you will be again. Do you remember what it felt like to be happy? What were you doing at the time? Try to repeat some of the actions you were doing when you were happiest.

-Get out and move: The energy around you can influence your state of mind. Stagnation can make you feel tired and bored which can mimic unhappiness. Get out of your house and into nature to cast off some toxic energy!

-Give yourself some self-care: It’s critical to know what makes you feel good for you, because self-care looks different to everyone. It can be as simple as sitting with a cup of coffee or going for a walk; saying no to something you don’t want to do or allowing yourself to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Find one thing that rejuvenates you and do it!

Remember that happiness is a moment to moment choice. One bit of information can change the temperature of your day, but how you choose to respond to it will have the greatest effect on your mood. When you link together each small choice towards happiness, it will inevitably shift your perspective, and before you know it, you will start to feel the heaviness of a funky mood disappear!

happy day.jpg