Stress is bad for the brain. In fact, it can change the brain’s structure and functioning! If left unaddressed, stress can inhibit your learning, ability to retain memories and your brain can actually shrink in size. This month, Ryann Watkin, success mentor, educator and speaker, is sharing ideas for confronting our stress and achieving success in life by taking intentional actions toward happiness.
Success comes in all shapes and sizes but one thing is becoming clear through recent research—Happiness is a prerequisite for achievement of any sort.
Happiness isn’t pretending we don’t have problems, and it’s not fake positivity. It’s actually more of a neutral, long-term state in which we experience a full range of human emotions. Think: joy, sadness and everything in between. Emotional fitness, or what’s often referred to as EQ, is the name of the game here. In order to process our emotions, we need to be able to identify them, feel them and then move on. Emotional intelligence can be strengthened over time by tuning into how you’re feeling in any given moment. Tune into yourself right now. How are you really feeling?
Now, let’s openly address the question so many of us have: “How can I be happy?” The foundational answer is in our ability to generate positive emotion whether we’re at work, at home or sitting in traffic. In fact, most things that cause us stress are actually outside of our scope of control. Can we ditch policies, procedures or difficult co-workers? Nope.
Here’s the good news, though: we have the ability to choose how we show up in the face of our external stressors and to become aware of our thoughts, feelings and emotions.
That takes work. If we’ve operated in a highly stressed mode for decades, it’s going to take some practice to update our programming. More good news, though: you can train your brain!
Learning to evoke positive emotion is a skill we can practice and eventually master to support our wellbeing. The key is to strengthen your emotional intelligence and then decide what you want to feel more of. Would you like to feel more: Engaged? Peaceful? Satisfied? Joyous? Blissful?
It’s up to you. How do you want to feel? Right now, choose one emotion you’d like to feel more of. Now, what can you do to feel that emotion? For example, “peaceful” is one of my core driving emotions. There is nothing more delicious to me than a relaxed and calm central nervous system. To get myself into this state daily, I practice intentional breathing, yoga and meditation.
Multiple empirical studies are showing that a mindfulness practice can dramatically enhance wellness and protect against a number of different diseases. Just three minutes of meditation per day can lead to dramatic results in your life.
Maybe you want to feel playful instead? Jump on a bike and go for a ride or have a dance party in your living room. How about feeling satisfied? Start a project you’ve been wanting to tackle but have been putting off for a while.
Once you decide what core emotions you’d like to feel on a regular basis, start doing one thing every day that will get you into that state. Over a period of time, let’s say two months, you will form a positive, lasting habit that will support a flourishing life.
Are you still going to get annoyed in traffic or frustrated with your boss? Maybe. But the goal here is progress, not perfection. The more you practice your happiness habits, the easier it will be to drop into the positive state of emotion you desire and eventually, the things that used to stress you out won’t carry as much weight.
Beyond your daily habits for feeling good, there are other things you can integrate into your life for a deeper sense of meaning or purpose, which also lead to well-being. Things like: choosing a place to volunteer, creating an impactful business aligned with your most sacred values or establishing a positive relationship with a role model or mentor.
Ultimately, the goal is to intentionally choose how you want to feel which will create more success in your life that is deeply rooted in purpose and fueled by your enthusiasm. If that’s not achievement, I don’t know what is.
Ryann Watkin is a Success Mentor, Educator, and Speaker in Palm Beach County, Florida. She facilitates holistic, positive transformation alongside her clients one-on-one and in group workshops using mindfulness basics and her unique curriculum plan. Her Mentorship program is for anyone seeking more purpose or joy in their lives while wanting to make a positive impact on their families and communities. Ryann is also the creator and host of The Happy Moms Show, the #1 Podcast for moms on a mission to embody happiness even in the messy and hard stages of life. She’s a happy mama to two girls and wife to her biggest supporter and best friend, Nate. Ryann wholeheartedly believes that we can change the world by starting at home, defining our own success and discovering our happiness.