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Boost your happiness by doing random acts of kindness for your spouse (DW#476)

In long term relationships, we sometimes begin to take our spouses for granted and stop doing those little acts of kindness that we did when we first fell in love. And of course, we seldom make the connection that our relationship is not as happy as it was or could be.

Research that was done about a year ago and published in the journal Emotion, shows that doing something nice for your spouse can boost your emotional well-being —even if he or she isn’t aware of your good deed.

The researchers in the study set out to test the Dalai Lama’s theory that compassionate concern for another’s welfare enhances one’s own happiness.

 

For the study, 175 couples were asked to record the thoughtful acts, kindness and tenderness that they expressed to their spouse and also record their own daily emotional state during this period.

The researchers found that couples benefitted the most when their acts of kindness were recognized and...

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What can actors teach us about love? (DW#475)

Have you ever wondered why actors/actresses who play the role of a couple in movies often end up falling in love with each other? Well, of course they are usually young, attractive and spend a lot of time with each other – all of which are predictors of selecting a mate.

There is, however, one more thing: They have to act like people who love each other deeply. They lovingly gaze at each other, touch each other, flirt and generally do things that people in love do. With all of these loving actions, it is not surprising that the feeling of loveoften follows.

What can we learn from this? That if you act like lovers on a set with your significant other, it is quite likely that you can kindle or rekindle the feelings of love.

You don’t even need to spend hours with a makeup specialist. Try it!
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Turn that frown upside down (DW#474)

"When you are happy, and you know it, smile a smile". This is how we usually think of smiling, isn’t it?

However, science now suggests that smiling can trick your brain into happiness — and boost your health.

 
It has to do with our hormones. When hormones such as dopamine and serotonin are low in our brains, we experience feelings of anxiety, depression and aggression. Smiling spurs a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing hormones including dopamine and serotonin which increase our feelings of happiness and reduce stress.
 
And it gets better: we now know that depression weakens our immune system – we are more susceptible to infections when we are experiencing a low mood. Happiness on the other hand, boosts our body’s resistance and increases our immunity. And since smiling increases happiness, it boosts immunity.

The strange thing is that for the most part, the brain cannot detect whether it is a genuine smile or not. It is the...

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Try power poses to increase your confidence (DW#473)

Have you noticed how our posture reflects our feelings?

When we are sad, we tend to look down and frown, when anxious we might tap our feet, fidget or shift our eyes and when we are happy we often smile.

But how we position our bodies doesn’t just reflect how we feel, it can also change how we feel.

For example, if we act confident even when we are not feeling confident, we may increase our feelings of confidence.

According to recent research: "Posture has a bigger impact on body and mind than anyone believed. Striking a powerful, expansive pose actually changes a person’s hormones and behavior, and even have an impact on how you are perceived in the working world," saysWall Street Journal columnist Sue Shellenbarger.

And we don’t have to change your posture or pose for long. A few minutes seems to be all you need to have an impact on our feelings.

In her research with Dana Carney at UC-Berkeley, Amy J.C. Cuddy has focused on...

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Feeling Low? Try this (DW#472)

When we are feeling down, it is tempting to get under the covers and not move. We tell ourselves that we will get out and do things once we feel better. If the mood lasts for more than a few days, we may be tempted to reach for a pill (or other substances) to make us feel better.

But get this: there is credible research that movement and exercise is as effective as Zoloft in reducing depression.

 
In The How of Happiness, a book which we have talked about before, Sonja Lyubomirksy walks us through a little experiment.

The study involved splitting clinically depressed people into three groups: The first group did four months of aerobic exercise (three sessions of forty-five minutes each) while the second group took the antidepressant Zoloft and the third group did both.

By the end of the four months, all three groups had experienced their depressions lift and reported fewer dysfunctional attitudes and increased happiness and self-esteem.

Lyubomirksy concluded...

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Taking action can change your feelings (DW#471)

emotions feelings objective Oct 15, 2018

We have been discussing how feelings come and go, and how we can learn to accept our emotions.

It bears repeating that emotions by themselves do not force us to do anything. Nor do they, by themselves, ever get us into trouble. 

Our choice and responsibility kicks in when we decide how to act, not when we are feeling the feeling. In other words, it is our actions and behaviours that have consequences for ourselves and for others. 

If we only work when we feel like it, it will get us fired from our jobs. If we lash out at our children every time we feel frustrated, the authorities might step in (not to mention that our children will be traumatized). If we act on every sexual temptation that we encounter, we will likely get divorced. If we act out every angry feeling we have, we may end up in jail. Do you get the picture? 

This is why it is so crucial to differentiate behavior from internal feelings and emotional states: we feel how we feel but we need to act in...

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Behaviours not feelings determine how our life turns out (DW#470)

communication emotions Oct 12, 2018

We have been discussing how we can act in our own best interests even if we do not feel like it. 

I love the way Dan Millman puts it: 
"Of course, we don’t love painful feelings like anxiety or depression. We don’t have to love or even like them, but we do have to accept them, as difficult as that can seem at times. Emotions, no matter how painful they are, are not the problem. The problem is dropping out of schoolor work, putting your family or duties of life on hold until such time as you can work out your emotional issues. Would you rather feel depressed while sitting alone in your room trying to figure it all out or feel depressed while getting your house cleaned or your project completed? (You may still feel depressed, but you have a cleaner house.) 

So emotional intelligence does not mean that we do not have strong (and sometimes negative) feelings. The idea is that we can feel strong emotions but still be functional. We can act in our best interests...

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Separating feeling and acting (DW#469)

emotions self development Oct 11, 2018

Let's assume that we all agree that exercise is a good thing. 

Are you one of those lucky people who love to exercise and look forward to going to the gym? 

Or are you amongst those who don’t necessarily feel like it but decide to do it anyway because you recognize that it is good for you?

Or do you wait until you feel like exercising and then do it? (How long have you been waiting by the way?)

Even though we don’t always use it, human beings have the ability to not act on every feeling and to act even when we don’t feel like it. 

In other words, 

1)    We can do what needs to be done even if we don’t feel like it (exercise, go to work, cook dinner etc.)

 

2)    We can stop ourselves from doing things which will harm us, either now or in the future even if we really reallywant to do it (eat too much, have junk food, have a fight with the neighbor, tell our boss off . . .)


So we have...

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Make it your own (DW#468)

One of the most inspiring and heart warming moments for me is when a reader takes a suggestion and makes it their own. 

A young lady wrote and shared that when she read about the six second pause, she realised that it was the perfect amount of time to remember God and His most beloved ones. 

She said that she will be using the six second pause to say this:
Allah, Mohammed, Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussain (May the peace and Blessings of God be on all of them). 

It reminded me that when I am feeling angry, unforgiving and my heart is constricted, I remember the most beautiful names of God to ground myself: 

Ya Rahman, Ya Raheem, Ya Karim, Ya Salaam
O All Compassionate, O All Merciful, O Most Generous and Noble, O the Source of Peace

If we adapt the pause to something that is meaningful for us, we are MUCH more likely to use it. 

So go ahead and develop a mantra of your own. What helps you to calm down and get back on track? Practice using it frequently so that it...

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What can you do in six seconds? (DW#467)

Yesterday we talked about how an emotional overreaction or flooding lasts a mere 6 seconds. 

What you do during those six seconds can be either helpful or harmful in dealing with the situation that you are facing. 

What is NOT useful to do whilst you are pausing is to replay the situation in your mind, think about how the other person is wrong or to plot your revenge.

Instead try this:

  1. Ask yourself: What do you want from this situation and for yourself? 
  2. Remind yourself that you only have control over your own thoughts and behaviours. 
  3. Get in touch with your core values. What do you stand for? What can you say or do that comes from those values rather than in reaction to what the other person is doing. 

These steps will help you gain your composure, to focus on what is most important in the here and now and prepare you to continue the conversation minus the overreaction.

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