By Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D.
After the recent past holidays, are you feeling really good? After implementing all your New Year's resolutions, are you feeling optimally well? If we were to devote as much energy to feeling good rather than avoiding feeling lousy, I would probably be out of business as a Life Coach. Most of us "don't feel very good" for a considerable portion of our waking hours. We try and identify what factors go into making us feel "bad" and then try to eliminate or avoid those factors in the future. We focus a lot of time and energy on what is negative about our lives without realizing that attending to the negative tends to make it more influential in our daily thinking and actions. I suggest we practice attending to those thoughts, actions, relationships and behavior which make us feel good...especially about ourselves and our lifestyles.
When you feel "down," lethargic, negative, hopeless or helpless, it is very hard to think of things to do that will help make you feel better. It might be useful to carry a small notebook around with you for a week or so. Each time you notice you are feeling good, write down what you were just thinking or doing that helped you feel better.
At the end of a week, you might have a list of 25 to 30 items which you can bring out whenever you want to feel better than you do at the moment. Here is a list of 16 suggestions I have conjured up.
Hopefully, these will assist you in developing your own list.
1. Breathe fully, abdominally and in a relaxed manner. Breathe out longer than you breathe in. Practice daily breath exercises. Breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth.
2. Fill your conscious mind with pleasant images, memories and dreams. Picture yourself the way you want to be and how you act when you are feeling really great. Repeat these images often throughout the day.
3. Modify your negative "self-talk"...that internal dialog that goes on all the time in your head. Make your mental talking self-affirmative and positive. Your body will thank you for this.
4. Listen to music. Hum or sing. The sound vibrations can have a highly positive effect on your psyche. Put the most positive meaning on the sound and words coming to you from others.
5. Laugh more. Giggle. Laughter has been a known mood elevator and health promoter for centuries. Develop your sense of humor and don't take yourself too seriously.
6. Get more hugs. We always have a need to strengthen the emotional bonds between us. Hugging addresses that need. When the need is nhot met, we feel alienated ...and not very good.
7. Restructure your thinking habits. If you are in the habit of thinking about the worst possible events that might happen, you will become anxious. If you think about how awful events in your past have been, you will feel depressed. Develop positive thinking habits, and you will feel much better.
8. Silence that voice inside your head that is self-critical and perfectionistic (not a legitimate English word). Learn to speak to yourself gently with lots of self-affirmations. Clarify and live within your own values.
9. Move your body. Sometimes, when we feel tired, down or depressed, the last thing we want to do is move. Nevertheless, yoga exercises, gentle movement to music, T'ai Chi, a walk, or any regular exercise can life your spirits and increase your energy.
10. Practice new social skills. Learn how to "fit in;" how to be appreciative (and appreciated); how to make small talk; become open and forthcoming with who you really are and receptive to others as they let you know about themselves. Make new friends. Initiate contact with those persons whom you would like to know better. Spend time with old friends.
11. Pursue personal interests. Take the time to engage in hobbies, exercise personal talents and abilities and discipline yourself to have at least one new experience per month.
12. Learn effective communication skills. Develop your listening abilities. Learn how to comfortably speak in public. Learn to be confident in honestly communicating your thoughts, feelings and opinions.
13. Develop self-assertiveness techniques. Avoid aggression and non-assertion. The more you assert your own thoughts, feelings, wants and needs, the more likely you will have those needs and desires addressed.
14. Learn effective problem-solving and conflict-management methods that work for you and that respect others' viewpoints and feelings as well.
15. Develop good nutrition and healthy behavioral habits. Self-caring is a must if you want to feel terrific.
16. Meditate. Forgive yourself and others. Play and pray. These activities have helped people feel better for thousands of years.
Of course, there are many more activities to be added to your own "feel-better list." However, when you begin developing a few of the ones above, you might just start feelin' good and help put me out of business. Why not go for it?!
Dr. Thomas is a licensed psychologist, author, speaker, and life coach. He serves on the faculty of the International University of Professional Studies. He recently co-authored (with Patrick Williams) the book: "Total Life Coaching: 50+ Life Lessons, Skills and Techniques for Enhancing Your Practice...and Your Life!" (W.W. Norton 2005) It is available at your local bookstore or on Amazon.com.