Can I Feel THAT Way?

by Susie Amundson

I wish that I had let myself be happier in my 30s.

Ahhh, sure there was the separation, and divorce. A move to a big city 1500 miles away. A new job. My mom’s illness. Dating. Not dating. Therapy. Mom’s passing. Wishing I was somewhere else. 

But the other reality was I had landed in a beautiful city. My job was the job of a lifetime. My university colleagues were fabulous and eager to mentor my 32-year-old self. I had access to two mountain ranges and an ocean every weekend. I was healthy, really healthy. Cultivated terrific friends. Reconnected with a wonderful guy. Started taking yoga.

So what does any of this have to do with you?

If you are anything like me, I didn’t realize that happiness was a choice. I could lay on the drama and the busyness easily. But I didn’t know that my own emotional well-being was something I could build up. I had no idea that emotions were just physical sensations even though my therapist kept saying “they are just feelings.”  What the hell did that mean?

I wasn’t aware that certain breathing methods would calm me. That some heart practices would warm me to myself and the world around me.  That I could tend and befriend those nagging feelings. The specific mind tools would reframe a bad day and not know what a bad mood was. That tweaks to my outer world would soothe my inner one.

All in all, I didn’t know about applied brain science and emotional resilience. Mainly because we didn’t have the know-how to change our neural circuits at that time. We didn’t have the evidence-backed practices to help us train our brains and shift to a more positive flow. Then, I struggled.

Today we know that happiness is a choice.  Not from the top down as in, “I’M GOING TO BE HAPPY, damn it.”  But from the inside out, as in changing our brain and our neural circuits no matter what’s circling outside around us.

How Do I Want to Feel Today?sunrise_161122 copy

Every morning I sit in front of my happy light (yes, it’s winter in Alaska) and ask myself this simple question. How Do I Want To Feel Today? Trust me, the response never includes worried and pinchy-faced or furious and bug-eyed.

And so how about you — How Do You Want to Feel Today? What’s your intention as you move forward today? What kind of feelings do you want to carry around?

  • Do you want to be anxious about your Thanksgiving shopping because the market may run out of sweet potatoes? (ahh, just kidding)
  • Or fearful because you won’t get your client’s report done on time?
  • Or angry and depressed because you bashed your car into the neighbor’s fence?

Think about the question. What feelings do you want to thread through your day? There’ll be snippets of unpleasant ones. That’s OK. But take a crack at the main theme. Go ahead, write it down. Hold it close.

And now the follow-up to take it out of fantasyland.

What Do You Need To Do To Feel That Way?

Ahh. This can be tricky in the world of commitments. And that’s why it’s a good question to ask yourself. Because the way you design your day will help you feel the way you want. Without a design, you can expect emotional roulette. A shaky payout.

If you want more emotional balance, you’ve got a choice. All you have to do is insert a few tools into the cracks of your day. Sounds easy, right? Tools that center your body, tend your heart, reframe your mind, and reset your nervous system. I use them with my clients. But let’s face it, I’m the junkie with her own tool kit. 

Greater Good in Action’s website hosts some powerful inner resilience tools.  It’s a great starting place. If you want to feel a little calmer and more creative today, pick one or two that ring true for you. Try them on.

I know they work — not just from science — but from my own lived experience and my clients. But like everything, they take an intention and some practice. Think lunges.

It’s been a long time since my 30s and a lot of stuff has drained down the life pipe. But now I get to choose my well-being. And honestly? I couldn’t be happier. I hope the same for you.

Warm blessings to each of you this Thanksgiving Season,

Susie