“Learn to be calm and you will always be happy.” -Paramahansa Yogananda
The overwhelming noise inside of our minds can sometimes bring us down and keep us from finding true happiness. “You’re not trying hard enough.” “That was an embarrassing thing to say.” “I can’t be happy until I have X.” Negative self-talk can creep up when you least expect it and the damage it can cause to your emotional wellbeing can take years to erase. Managing your inner emotions is the key to finding lasting inner peace and boundless happiness; all you need to do is believe in your ability to be happy.
My advice for managing your emotions is to pay attention to the following five steps.
1. Practice Deep Breathing
“Happiness breathes when you do.” -Terri Guillemets
There’s a reason a rejuvenating yoga practice always includes lot of deep breathing; large inhalations and long, slow, complete exhalations help to calm the mind and increase feelings of joy. When you’re feeling less than your best, try sitting quietly in a soothing location and just bask in the rhythm of your breath.
Did you know deep breathing is a natural painkiller? It releases endorphins, similar to brisk exercise, and helps to promote good blood flow. Taking slow, steady and intentional deep breaths not only benefits your body but also your mind; a five minute session counting your breaths helps you take a step back and review any current challenges with wisdom and grace instead of a hot head.
2. Find Your Inner Power
“The world within you is of greater consequence than the world around you.” -Matshona Dhliwayo
Rather than allowing the pieces of life to fall in place where they may, you have the opportunity to grasp control of your life and turn it into the one you want to lead. This begins with finding the power within to accomplish what you put your mind to; your inner power is the essence of who you really are. Harnessing this strength can help you overcome negative thoughts, emotions and patterns of behavior.
There are many times in life when we could allow the opinions of others and the expectations of society to define us. Whether it’s pressure to go to the right college, get married or to find a fulfilling career, having a strong inner power and sense of self can help you make the right decisions and not be influenced by others.
Called “I Can Do It” power, you will find that the inner power you find is your closest friend who can reassure you, comfort you, and give you the strength needed to enter the world like a force of nature.
3. Focus on Self-Love:Be Your Own Cheerleader
“Love yourself first to fill your heart with bliss. Now give it away with humility, love and gratitude.” -Debasish Mridha
People talk a lot about self-love, but very few ever define it. “You need to love yourself more.” “Love yourself in order to truly be loved back.” Simply put, self-love is love you feel for who you are. It is not love you get from another person, or love you feel for another person. It is not a mother’s love, or a lover’s love. It can only come from deep inside you.
Self-love is something that can seem elusive, but you know it when you feel it. It’s a deep appreciation for the unique quirks that make you, you. Having strength in your sense of self will help you manage your emotions and find happiness. To find the mental power needed to always be betting on yourself, it’s important to go with your gut feelings and listen to your inner cues.
You are your own best cheerleader. Putting yourself first is not selfish or mean; it’s necessary for approaching the world with a calm, clear head and the confidence you need to tackle the stresses of life. To find this for yourself, I strongly encourage keeping a journal listing wins, successes and things you are proud of. Looking back on these memories can keep your self-worth top of mind.
4. Practice Gratitude: Motivate Yourself to Be Happy
“Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality.” -Alfred Painter
As human beings we are in constant need of motivation. It’s hard to motivate yourself to work out, to eat healthy or to drive your regular commute to work. Life challenges present themselves like clockwork and one uncomplicated way to find the energy to conquer them is through the day to day practice of gratitude.
The #1 tool in your happiness toolkit, daily gratitude will help you manage tough emotions and find inner peace. As Richard Carlson says, “Demonstrate gratitude for the simple things in life…[Show] that you are a person who is truly grateful for the simple, good things in life: a sunset, rain, insects, birds, children laughing or a kind gesture…. Appreciative people are happy; they see the beauty in life while others miss it.”
How often do you say thank you on a day to day basis? Whether it’s a simple, “Thank you” to the checkout clerk in the grocery store, a thank you to your children for cleaning up their toys or a thank you to your spouse for being a loving and supportive partner, gratitude can make all the difference in the way you view the world. When you are continually grateful, you see each day as a gift waiting to be unwrapped and find it easy to be happy about the little things in life.
5. Forgive Easily: Why Holding Grudges Makes Us Unhappy
“Unconditional forgiveness is the path to your own inner peace.” -Jonathan Lockwood Huie
Why do we hold grudges in the first place? When people hurt or wrong us, it is not always easy to forget. The pain of past scars can reopen at any time and remind us of intense hurts we’ve had to live through. Holding onto blame for what has happened to us is human nature; forgiveness is what sets us apart and allows us to break free from the prison of emotions we’re trapped in.
Holding a grudge against a person may feel like you’re getting revenge, in some way, for what they’ve done to you. But thinking about the past and hating someone means you are giving them a constant presence in your thoughts, a constant drain for your energy reserves; this is no way to foster inner peace.
A lifelong process, forgiveness doesn’t mean we have to forget what has happened to us, but we instead can rise above it and release ourselves from pain and suffering. Instead of looking for instant results and relief, accept that forgiveness is like a dull ache that will fade over time; a scar that you will learn to live with.
There are many ways to release yourself from negative emotions and calm the fears within; we just need to trust ourselves that we are worthy of happiness and deserve to live each day with appreciation, love and light. I know you are strong enough to choose positivity and I encourage you to be the best self you can be. If you forget that you are powerful enough to invoke this change, remember Sydney J. Harris once said, “Happiness is a direction, not a place.”