The Invisible Force of Your Emotions
The traditional picture of health is incomplete, but the medical community is slowly changing course to recognize that reaching optimal health requires caring for our bodies and our minds. When we identified the power of habits many years ago when the Habits of Health Transformational System was first created, we were at the forefront of a new way of thinking about health. Yes, our bodies need healthy foods and healthy exercise, but if we do not optimize the way our brains process the world around us and ultimately make choices—in favor of health or in favor of disease—we cannot hope to achieve, let alone sustain, optimal wellbeing.
Our emotions are a powerful unseen force that influence every corner of our wellbeing. In fact, some research even suggests that the root of disease and poor wellbeing can actually be traced back to our emotions. When our emotions drift out of alignment, we begin to make progressively unhealthier choices that soon become habits.
Think of how many people respond to stress: They eat ice cream. They binge on television. They sleep late.
Our emotions affect us every second of every day. They are the energy that directs every aspect of our life. Their deep, ancient and central role in directing our brain and mind is only just unfolding in our growing understanding of neurobiology. When functioning as designed, our emotions connect our biology and our behavior into a beautiful resonating song that flows through our body and creates a sense of wellbeing. We have all felt it at times, and it is a beautiful thing. We wish those moments would last forever. Unfortunately, less than 5% of people have developed mastery of their emotions so that they truly have the calm and focus that allows us to be the dominant force in our lives.
The inability to successfully navigate our emotions is now thought to be the central cause of almost all disease and lack of wellbeing. That’s a bold statement and I plan on exploring it in detail in my future work.
For now, in the brief amount of time that we can spend together today, my goal is for you to begin to recognize how your own emotions work and for you to think about how you might transform your Habits of a Healthy Mind. With so much of our lives running on automatic, our emotions are likely operating in the same way. Though you might feel anxious or stressed or unhappy, you might not be conscious of why you feel that way.
And that’s part of the problem.
When we operate unconsciously, we give up the control we have over our lives. If we instead learn to stop and reflect, to think critically about why we suddenly shifted into fight or flight mode at work, we can identify the source and then consciously choose how we react. That’s powerful! By simply being more vigilant observers of our own lives, we can then seize the opportunity to make healthier choices when we feel negative emotions begin to swell, or we can remove the cause of those negative emotions from our lives.
Emotional mastery is a deep topic that has occupied much of my thinking for how the Habits of Health philosophy will evolve and become even stronger. I have many exciting insights on this front to share with you, but for now, we can take an important step together:
At the end of each day, reflect on the emotions you experienced. At what points did you feel yourself losing control of how you felt? What made you feel anxious, sad, stressed, or overwhelmed? What choices did you make as a result of those feelings? The next time you are in a similar situation, what can you do differently?
This simple process will help you to begin to reshape your process for managing your emotions and it will build a foundation that we can begin to build on very soon.