Accessing Your Positive Emotions for a Happy Holiday
Experience your emotions in a healthy way.
Posted Dec 19, 2019
Holidays shine a light on our work and personal relationships. They can bring out some of our most positive feelings and can also ignite some of our most negative. This holiday season, tap into your positive emotions and learn to manage your negative ones more effectively.
Negative emotions can be like a shadow that follows us wherever we go. Our best defense to the darkness of negative emotions is to grow our positive emotional roots.
Uncertainty is a way of life for all of us. So, we need to find a protector from stress and a generator of positive energy. How can you be in the moment and avoid getting pulled into the worries of the past, present, or future?
- Identify and understand your emotions. Use language to define the subtle differences in your emotional experiences. Experiencing and expressing your emotions in a healthy way will make a big difference in the way you feel.
- Demonstrating positive emotions like hope, compassion, joy, empathy, generosity, forgiveness, and love is what sets happy and fulfilled people apart from negative, unhappy people. Moving from fear-based emotions like anger, irritation, and agitation to love-based, positive emotions will help you to be more positive.
- Avoiding, resisting, and repressing your emotions can cause you to express emotions in unhealthy ways. Pause to stop and reflect upon your feelings and find resilience—that inner reserve of energy and emotional equilibrium can help you handle life’s ups and downs.
- Don’t give up or give in to helplessness. We learn to give up when we perceive or experience no control over repeated bad events. When we give up, we have little resistance to adverse situations. If you fall into helplessness, you can’t perceive a setback as an opportunity.
- Awareness of yourself, others, and your environment is the key to understanding your emotions. When you are more aware, you can then lean into the positive ones and avoid spiraling into the negative ones.
Do You Hide Your Emotions?
You may resist showing emotions and communicating feelings like love, joy, happiness, and compassion. Habit and discomfort often get in the way. Showing empathy or compassion can leave you feeling vulnerable and ripe for rejection. But the point of showing emotions is not to gain acceptance. The point is to form bonds and relationships based on your true personal qualities, not on a façade that isn’t really you.
Seeking forgiveness and admitting a mistake by saying “I’m sorry” requires strength, not weakness. In expressing the emotion of being sorry, we recognize that we are all imperfect and that everyone makes mistakes.
Practice makes perfect—or at least opens the door to something new. Try expressing a positive feeling that you may be unaccustomed to like great enthusiasm, gratitude, or admiration. The more you do this, the more natural your feelings become.
Conquer Your Negative Side
Every emotion sits on a continuum facing its opposite emotion on the other end. As you become more aware, you learn to identify when you are tilting toward the negative. When this happens, try expressing the positive emotion that sits at the other end.
Pick a Positive Emotion and Reflect On It
Can you challenge your set beliefs around a positive emotion like joy? Maybe you believe that joy should just arise and that it can’t be controlled—but it is possible to create the circumstances for it to flourish and grow. So:
- Think through the moments in your life when you have felt joyful. Where were you? What were you doing? Who were you with?
- Consciously plan more moments like these. Schedule them and stick to your commitments.
- If you aren’t accustomed to feeling joy, volunteer to do simple acts of kindness. There are lots of places in your community that need volunteers during the holidays; pay a compliment, help someone with what they are carrying, thank a colleague—and when you do, notice the smiles you receive and the positive emotions that you feel!
Footnote: If you feel like you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call your mental health professional, go to an emergency room, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1.800.273.8255).
Rosen, Robert (2008). Just Enough Anxiety. NY, NY: The Penguin Group