What building blocks create good feelings, that is, a state of positive energy flow? The song below, sung originally by Nina Simone, captures well the feeling of feeling great about life. Even if you are in good health, you have a fine job, and there are no problems in your marriage or relationships, feeling good gets enhanced when you tune into the small miracles. And the better you feel within, the more beauty you project without. Feeling good increases personal attractiveness, which brings you even more good feelings.
I refer to these arenas by the acronym SCRAP. While the acronym is not the most upbeat, it may be useful in helping you do a quick review of the extent to which these dimensions are feeding well-being in your life.
1. S - Self-accepting beliefs. Beliefs impact well-being, though often at a subconscious level. They provide programming within you that points you toward feeling good or distressed. Here’s several beliefs that sustain well-being, and the alternatives that undermine it.
I am lovable. I am not lovable.
People generally like me. People generally don’t like me.
I am attractive. I am not attractive.
I am capable. I am ineffective.
Things generally work out for me. I am a failure.
I am ok. I have to be perfect to be accepted; and however well I do it’s never enough.
If your tendency is to harbor negative beliefs about yourself, others or the world in which you live, you can take decide to change these views. You might want to start with temporal tapping, which I have written about in an earliler blogpost. The more frequently you do the tapping the stronger the impact. The technique takes only about 20 second each time you do it. At least three times a day is probably a good idea.
2. C - Circumstances. Do you struggle with money woes, illness, a hostile or otherwise difficult person in your life, inability to find a mate or partner in living, a dangerous neighborhood or any on-going adverse circumstance in your life space? Any such chronically unsafe circumstances can undermine well-being, especially if they pose continuous threats to survival.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1943) contributed the concept of hierarchy of needs. It’s hard to feel relaxed and comfortable in your life if you do not have sufficient food or reliable shelter, clothes, air, water and sleep. Health problems and personal safety concerns also can provide chronic stress. Higher-on-the-needs-pyramid issues like desires for meaningful activities and for love rest on this biologically secure foundation.
At the same time, even in negative circumstances your attitude, that is, what you say to yourself about your situation, makes a huge difference. What you say to yourself can make a bad situation feel good, and a good situaiton feel bad.
3. R - Relationships. If you are like most people and even most mammals, you depend on positive interactions with others to stay feeling safe and socially enriched. Insufficient people-interactions raise feelings of loneliness.
Interestingly, even going out to a public space such as a store or riding a bus can boost your positive energies. Interactions with friends and those you love enhance well-being all the more.
Alas, not all relationships prove positive. If you receive negative energies like anger or disgust from people close to you such as family members or work associates, or if you feel ignored, your relationships may cause your sense of well-being to spiral downward.
4. A - Activities you enjoy. Do what you enjoy. How much time do you devote to life’s pleasures? If your answer suggests not enough, try some new options. The world is your smorgasbord.
5. P - Positivity Express gratitude, agreement, enthusiasm, affection, and generosity. You will feel better and so will the people around you. Positive emanations from you will invite positive emanations from others.
Of all the positive dimensions you could choose to do more of, two have been especially researched, and with strong results.
Giving boosts internal good feelings. Go out and give, to any one. Help an old woman up a flight of stairs. Offer to help kids with homework. Pitch in with cleaning up after the church picnic. Try it…
Gratitude however is probably number one. That's in part what makes James Smith's song above so uplifting.
Prayer also expresses gratitude. Expressing appreciation through prayer enables you to see your life through a positive light. Thanking leads to feeling blessed.
Gratitude also turns out to be surprisingly helpful for alleviating distress. Allow yourself to switch from thinking about what you feel depressed, angry or anxious about to a focus on what you can feel grateful for. The impact can be surprisingly profound.
Denver clinical psychologist Susan Heitler, PhD, is author of the books Power of Two and the Power of Two Workbook, and the interactive marriage help website PowerOfTwoMarriage.com which offers three days of free trial membership.