On Happiness and Blissfulness: HEALTH

How long has it been since I wrote my previous article on this blog? Yes, some 604,800 seconds, that is, a week. Yes, time goes by very quickly. Above all if you flow! When I started to write this series of articles on happiness and blissfulness, I was inspired by a course by Raj Raghunathan entitled “A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment” (at the bottom of this article you will find a link to this course). If you could not read my three previous articles or you did not do the exercises I presented in them, here you are the links:

In this fourth article of this series, I will present exercise no. 4, which is not my favorite for reasons I will explain below. However, it is likely the one which brings more physical and personal benefit of them all.

WinkWhat is capital sin no. 4 against happiness? Being overcontrolling, wanting to have absolutely everything under control. (“If everybody would behave the way I want, if they would do as I say, I’m sure the world would be a better place; I can’t understand why “the others” don’t see it that way!”). What I mean is that desire to control the external environment, in other words: the external control. Some studies show that people who have control over their decisions they live longer than those who do not. However, when that control turns into “overcontrol”, then the levels of happiness and satisfaction decrease significantly.

When you over control people, their response is usually negative. The same way we want to control the others, the others tend to not want to be controlled. In addition, there are people who also want to overcontrol the results. I am introducing here the concept of “psychological reactance”, but I will not go deep into it (you can find a link at the bottom of this article). For our purposes, let’s just say psychological reactance is the reaction of individuals when they feel obliged to adopt a particular opinion or engage in a specific behaviour.

When the others do not behave the way we want, we get angry, frustrated and we get disappointed. And this affects our decision making. Do not be afraid of being surrounded by people who contradict you. Moreover, get surrounded by people who are not afraid of contradicting you!

Also, when we try to overcontrol the results, we become more superstitious. Essentially, there are to ways of pursuing results:

  1. to pursue results in the best way: IN HARMONY
  2. to pursue results in the worst way: OBSESSIVELY.

The obsessive pursuit of a passion occurs when that thing you feel passion for controls you instead of you controlling it. The antidote against “overcontrol” is: TO TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY OF YOUR HAPPINESS.

How can you control your emotions? Is it possible to be happy if something really bad happens to you? In theroy, it is possible, indeed. You just have to master your thoughts. But that does not mean it is easy. Actually, it is not at all. It is difficult, but you can always learn how to do it: you only need TIME and PATIENCE. We usually find two inner obstacles:

  • Certain kind of pessimism (“How can I be happy if I have some really bad things happening to me!!”). Well, Rome was not built in a day. The key here is “flow”. When you flow, you stop being pesimistic. The actual question you should ask yourself is this one: How can I keep the control over my emotions on a daily basis?
  • A misconception: “Well if I control my emotions and people know it, they will take advantage of it!”. In reality, that does not happen. Anyway, that you do not make the other person responsible of your anger, that does not mean you cannot make her responsible of her mistakes. When we lose control over our emotions, we are more likely to make wrong decisions. The same way we need to give intelligently to avoid “burnout” (creative altruism)
  • we also need to control our emotions intelligently.

The control of our emotions helps us avoid being “overcontrolling” (external control). Taking personal responsability of your happiness gives you a greater feeling of inner control, it decreases your desire for external control and makes you less prone to overcontrolling. The takehome message here: we need to work on our “inner control”.

Two strategies to get inner control:

  • to learn simple tactics to regulate emotions,
  • to keep a healthy life style.

What are those simple tactics?

  • selection of situation (avoid situations that evoke not desired emotions),
  • to label emotions (give name to the emotion you feel in a particular moment),
  • attention deployment (focus your attention on positive things and divert it from negative ones). I will not go deep into it, but just mention the concept of “self serving bias”, which is one of the fundamental mistakes in the “attribution theory”. “Self serving bias” is the tendency of individuals to attribute positive events to their own character but attribute negative events to external factors (see link at the bottom of this article) and
  • cognitive re-evaluationción (to reinterpret the situations in order to feel better about them, that is, to put things in perspective).

How can you keep a healthier life style? Appreciating uncertainty and lack of control, in other words, seeing the positive side of uncertainty.

This weeks exercise is about analyzing your life style and make it a bit healthier. We will take three approaches:

  • eat better (nutrition),
  • move more (physical exercise) and
  • sleep better (propper rest).

Eat, move and sleep!

The sitting disease. There are some studies which confirm that spending 6 hours sitting is harmful to your health. We need to move along the day (it is not enough just one hour of physical exercise and then spending 8 hours sitting). That is why, those of us who spend long hours sitting because of our jobs, we need to manage and create strategies that make us move just a bit more.

As for sleep, it is estimated that the appropriate sleeping time is about 7 hours. Lack of sleep makes us get a worse physical appearance, make worse decisions. Sleep deprivation when you drive is the same as being drunk. Also, lack of sleep is a source of insatisfaction at work and it increases stress.

What to do and not to do then? Here, some suggestions:

1 have healthy foods at hand’s reach,
2 eat from small plates (that decreases the amount of food),
3 eat from plates that are not white (dark colours are better),
4 take some healthy snacks with you when you go out,
5 start meals with healthy foods,
6 have a good and healthy breakfast.

1 get a pedometer,
2 have breaks for 2 or 3 minutes every 30 minutes and move,
3 do some exercise at home,
4 do some exercise in the morning when you get up,
5 do something you find pleasurable to move.

1 minimize the sources of light (mobiles, electronic devices),
2 use a “white noise” machine that sounds at the background,
3 lower the temperature of your bedroom (just a bit cooler),

The goal of this exercise (as I said at the beginning this exercise is not my favorite, because it requires discipline and that is something I need to work on) is to improve your life style and the urge of wanting to have everything under control. So, this exercise requires a lot more of discipline, but it also brings greater benefits.
Step 1
Create a healthy life style plan that works for you (EAT WELL, MOVE MORE & SLEEP BETTER)
Warning: Do not get stressed with this exercise. Adapt it to your personal circumstances. It is about being aware of your life style and improving those areas you want to improve.
IMPORTANT: If you need a daily reminder so that you become more aware of this exercise, you can always associate with a friend or relative who reminds you of it everyday (via email, mobile or whatever).

Once you have created your plan, (do not leave for tomorrow what can be done now), answer the following questions:
Did you have trouble sticking to your plan? If you have achieved it, what do you attribute your success to? If not, why?
What are you planning to do in order to stick to your plan tomorrow or later today?

(YOU NEED TO ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS EVERYDAY FOR 7 DAYS!! I I told you it required a lot of discipline)

Step 2
At the end of the 7 days, answer the following questions:
What was your weekly healthy life style plan?
Did you have trouble sticking to it?
Did you notice any effects on your wellbeing and on your desire to have everything under control?
What do you think about participating in this exercise?

Here you are some interesting links:
A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment
Psychological Reactance
Self Serving Bias
Eat, Move, Sleep (book)

I will be back in a week. Til then, be happy!

Michael Thallium

Global & Greatness Coach
Book your coaching here

You can also find me and connect with me on:

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