Episode 004: Strategies for Handling Emotional Hijackings

If you only listen to one of my episodes, make it this one because I really think it can help some people learn new strategies for not letting strong emotions ruin their whole day!

Add a comment if you know of any other ways to regain your composure after emotional hijackings! I am excited to hear some feedback!

Please share this episode on social media because I really want a lot of people to hear it and benefit from it.

Be Quick To Forgive

I just finished recording episode three of the podcast, which you can listen to on the home page or on iTunes.  In that episode, I described how our amygdala can prevent us from thinking rationally when we are experiencing very strong emotions. It is important for all of us to be aware of this because it can make us more willing to forgive people who say or do hurtful things when they are in a severely emotional state. I am happy with my research so far because I don’t think I have always been quick to forgive in the past, but now I realize how much it increases my own happiness to just immediately forgive others when they hurt my feelings, whether they mean to hurt them or not. It is like I said in my post about vulnerability, if we can forgive ourselves for falling short some of the time, then we will be far more likely to forgive others when they hurt us.

I don’t like to be preachy, but I think it is important to not hold onto grudges in our lives. Ultimately, a grudge takes more out of you than it does the other person, and it really can just fester like an open wound, completely sapping your ability to be happy. I want this blog and my podcast to contain tangible pieces of advice based on what I am learning, and it just makes so much sense to me that there is no inherent reward for holding a grudge. The other person may not even know that you are harboring negative thoughts about them, so it may just be costing you mental energy for no reason. If you feel like you have been wronged by someone, I think honest, respectful, and open communication after everyone has calmed down is the best way to resolve the issue. However, in the heat of “battle”, many times we just bare our teeth and show our claws to make sure people know that it isn’t wise to mess with us. This type of emotional reaction can be hard to stop sometimes, as I discussed in episode three, but we can always apologize after the fact and ask the other person if they would like to talk about what happened. If they don’t want to talk about it, then we can still choose to forgive them and ourselves, and we can move on with our life without the venom of anger and vengeance coursing through our veins. If the other person attacks us again when we ask if they would like to talk about the issue, then we can still forgive them and walk away.

Continue reading “Be Quick To Forgive”

The Researching Happiness Podcast is officially listed on iTunes, and the first two episodes are posted.

I am happy to announce you can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes to make sure you never miss an episode. Just click this link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-researching-happiness-podcast/id1236670044?mt=2 and the podcast should open in iTunes, and you can just press subscribe. You can also just search for the podcast on the iTunes podcast app by using the term “Researching Happiness”.

I was so excited that iTunes accepted the podcast that I actually recorded episode 2 one day early because I want people to have something to listen to if they stumble across the podcast. I will embed the podcast below, but please subscribe and then rate and leave feedback for the podcast on the iTunes app as well because it will help new people find the podcast!

The player below will allow you to listen to episode one and two. If you enjoy the podcast, please share it with your family and friends on social media. I am pleased with how many people I have already reached, but I would love to reach more people because I want to help as many people as possible. Don’t hesitate to leave comments on this post because I would love some feedback about the episodes I have recorded so far!

Episode 001 of The Researching Happiness Podcast is here!

You can listen to the podcast by using the embedded player below. I have applied for the podcast to be listed on Itunes, but it takes a few days to get accepted. Any feedback about the podcast would be greatly appreciated! You can leave a comment below or email me at researchinghappinessblog@gmail.com. For now, you can subscribe to the podcast’s RSS feed by clicking here.  Episode two will be posted on Thursday, May 18! Thanks for listenting 🙂

Overcoming Our Fear of Failure

For today’s post, I wanted to provide a brief motivational message that you should never let fear of failure prevent you from trying to accomplish something that you are passionate about. I have been listening to podcasts since I was a teenager, and I have been talking about producing my own podcast for almost as long. Over the last couple of weeks, I have purchased all of the necessary equipment, and I am happy to announce that I will be producing a “Researching Happiness” podcast very soon. I would be lying if I said that there wasn’t still some part of me that is terrified to fall flat on my face in this endeavor, especially because I am telling all of my family and friends and students about my efforts. But I don’t want to let fear prevent me from helping others. I am very passionate about helping people, and I just feel like this podcast is something I am supposed to do.

If you have a goal or a dream that you have been putting off for a while because you are afraid that you won’t succeed, just go for it! When you are passionate about something, you should lean into it. So many people go through life on autopilot, and they never chase any of their dreams. Make a conscious decision to go for that dream and let your passion guide you. In the early days, set some tangible goals to help keep yourself accountable. But tell somebody else your goals as well and have them help you stay focused on the goal. For example, when I told my wife that I was finally going to start a podcast, I told her I was going to make a website first and write some initial content about my research. After I had the website up and running, I told her I was going to start tutoring some students to get the money to buy podcasting equipment. And I finally told her that I was going to train myself on how to record, edit, and compress the audio files. There are a lot of little goals I accomplished first before ever getting to the point where I could record my first episode of the podcast. So that’s today’s motivational message. Stop telling yourself why you shouldn’t chase after your goal, and start telling yourself and others that you are going to chase after it! Because let me tell you something…passion is contagious. People flock to passion, and it won’t be long until you have a large number of people rooting for you to succeed. I guarantee you that you already have me in your corner! Continue reading “Overcoming Our Fear of Failure”

Let’s define happiness together!

I was reading this entry on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy today, and I discovered that some researchers do not believe any value should be placed in individual answers when people are asked if they are happy because the question is too vague. I was very pleased to see this because it immediately made me think of my post about vague language being a virus. In that post, I provided a fictional conversation between Joe and Sarah, where Joe was asking Sarah if she was happy. I then discussed how I felt like his question was pointless because his definition of happiness was most likely different than Sarah’s definition of happiness, so her answer really wouldn’t mean anything to him. I then provided a more detailed conversation where Joe asked Sarah more specific questions in order to actually learn more about her. The entry on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy also seemed to suggest that researchers who are measuring happiness should ask more specific questions and not even use the word “happy”. The suggestion to measure happiness by leaving the word “happy” out of the question is appealing to me, but I also think it presents a problem that I have been thinking about all day.

I am going to use a few sample conversations between a researcher and two separate participants in an attempt to illustrate the problem.

A Researcher wants to know if two participants are happy. So, he simply decides to ask them if they are happy:

Researcher: “Are you happy?”

Participant A: “Yes, I am happy.”

Participant B: “No, I am unhappy.”

By asking his question in this way, the Researcher is able to determine that Participant A is happier than Participant B. However, he really cannot conclude anything else, and he really doesn’t even know what criteria the two participants were using to determine whether or not they were happy. Participant A may think the question is asking him if he would describe his emotional state as “happy”, while Participant B may think the question is asking him if he thinks he has a good life. Continue reading “Let’s define happiness together!”

The Storms Will Come, But How Will We Respond?

We are throwing a birthday party for Ember later today. She is officially four years old now. She is very excited that all of her friends will be bringing her presents and singing happy birthday to her. Amanda and I are excited for her as well, but I woke up this morning and caught myself worrying about the weather. We are hosting the party at a local park, and it was raining all day yesterday. If it rains today, a lot of Ember’s friends may not show up to the party. I caught myself creating this negative story in my head, and I had to remind myself it wasn’t real. I quickly got out of bed and came into the office to type up this post.

The truth, of course, is that it may rain today, and it is also true that many of Ember’s friends may not show up if it does. Amanda has put time and energy into planning this party, so it would be a little sad if her efforts were undermined by bad weather. However, bad weather and people not showing up doesn’t have to mean the party is a failure. I can stay upbeat and do my best to help everyone at the party have a fun time, even if it is pouring and we are stuck under the pavilion. If Ember starts to cry because of the rain, then I will just console her and let her cry. After she cries for a bit, I will tell her how exciting it is that so many of her friends came to the party because they wanted to have fun with her. I will do my best to help her see that storms are always going to come, but we don’t have to let them ruin our fun! Ultimately, I am quite confident that I will be able to help her realize that rain can make us wet, but it doesn’t have the power to make us sad if we don’t let it.  Continue reading “The Storms Will Come, But How Will We Respond?”

Vulnerability is Essential to Happiness

People are going to hurt your feelings, and you are going to hurt their feelings. It is just an unfortunate aspect of existence. In fact, the people you care about the most are the ones who have the potential to hurt you the most. Your family members, your significant others, and your closest friends can hurt your feelings in ways that truly break your heart, and you can do the same to them if you aren’t careful. You would feel mad, offended, or sad if a stranger or acquaintance made a rude or hurtful comment towards you, but you would feel betrayed if the rude comment came from someone you love and trust. We allow ourselves to show vulnerability when we are around our loved ones, and that is why it is very hard to not feel so betrayed and angry when they let us down by hurting our feelings. It is like we are handing them a box that says “handle with care” on the side of it, and they are just shaking the box and dropping it on the ground. It takes a while, but after countless times of loved ones failing to handle our feelings with care, many of us just stop allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with others.

I believe it is a mistake to stop being vulnerable. We do not want to feel pain and have our feelings hurt by the ones we love, but when we put up our walls and stop being vulnerable, we rob ourselves of the possibility of developing deep and life-altering relationships. In her funny and insightful Ted Talk, Dr. Brené Brown describes the results of her research on human connection, courage, and authenticity. Dr. Brown’s research shows that “people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging.” These individuals know they make mistakes and know they are not always at their best, but they have “the courage to be imperfect”. More importantly, Dr. Brown says they understand the importance of being kind to themselves when they fall short. She makes an interesting point about kindness towards others when she says “we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly”. We must be willing to forgive ourselves for the pain we cause our loved ones because then we will be willing to forgive them for the pain they cause us. Continue reading “Vulnerability is Essential to Happiness”

Vague language is a virus

What are we really asking when we ask someone if they are happy? Can we even know what their answer truly means? I don’t think we can. The word “happy” is going to be interpreted differently by every single person. No one has had the same subjective experiences in life, so we cannot expect people to understand what we are asking them. They may not define happiness in the same way we do. If we want to learn more about our happiness and the happiness of those around us, then we need to use clearer and more specific language.

I want to try to illustrate my point through a dialogue between Joe and Sarah. To give it a little bit more context, it is important to point out that Joe and Sarah have been friends for a while. Joe thinks Sarah is really cool, and he is actually trying to work up the courage to ask her if she wants to go on a date with him. By asking her if she is happy, he is hoping she will see he is taking a more serious interest in her. Continue reading “Vague language is a virus”

The Lion Isn’t There

     This post is for anyone who has ever laid awake at night wondering if everything was going to be okay. It is a post for anyone who sometimes doesn’t remember driving to and from work because their mind is so preoccupied with doubt and worry over what will happen next. In short, this post is for people who are like me. This post is a reminder to everyone, including myself, to always stay present. I hope reading this post will help you find the same inner peace I was looking for while writing it.

     The lion isn’t there anymore. Your brain is so good at creating things for you to worry about, but worrying never truly solves any of your “what if” problems. Worrying is wasted energy because the future event you are fretting over may never even come to fruition. It will take some serious mental effort to train your brain to stop worrying about what could go wrong in any given scenario. However, if you commit to stop worrying, then there are some actionable steps you can take to help you live a “worry-free” life. The next time you catch yourself worrying about something, ask yourself the following questions: Continue reading “The Lion Isn’t There”