Thursday, October 11, 2012

Changing Your Life Situation: How it Helps You Find Good Health and Gain Freedom

I’m an advocate for change. But only if the change will impact one’s life in a positive manner. For example, don’t start drinking five beers a night so you can shove your troubles under a table coaster. You need to find what it is inside of you that’s contributing to your unhappiness and make the changes necessary to let that little stream of happiness we all have within ourselves bubble to the surface. It’s not easy. Sometimes we really have to dig to discover it. And sometimes we don’t even know where to place our shovel.
Today I will focus on a discussion of Richard Davidson’s six emotional styles. According to Davidson, people consult their emotions when making complex decisions. I understand that. When I make a decision as simple as choosing what clothes to put on, I generally let my mood guide me. Occasionally I will think, “I want to be warm. It’s cold outside.” And I will choose my warmest, albeit least attractive, clothing. But if I want to feel good about myself, I will choose something less practical, thus making an emotional decision.
The same goes for food. We can say to ourselves, “A salad without dressing is optimal for my weight loss plan today.” And then the television stops working, a pair of pants gets ruined in the dryer thanks to a renegade chap stick, and a fight ensues with the spouse. The undressed salad is a distant memory. “I need a hot fudge sundae,” is the emotional response. And it leads us to unhealthy fare, if only for its quick pick-me-up.
The six emotional styles according to Davidson are as follows:
1)   Resilience
2)   Outlook
3)   Social Intuition
4)   Self-Awareness
5)   Context
6)   Attention
In the next several weeks I’m going to choose each of these styles and dissect them. How do they interfere with my choices? How do they help me obtain my goals? How can apply this to a healthy lifestyle while I weather upcoming challenges in my life? What about you?
Today, we’ll discuss resiliency.
According to the American Psychological Association, “Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress -- such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. It means "bouncing back" from difficult experiences…Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.” (
How adept are you at making plans and taking steps toward your goals? Do you lack confidence or motivation? Do you find yourself struggling with indecision? Or are you impulsive and quick to react either in a positive or negative way?
The APA has put together an article that contains “10 Ways to Build Resilience.” ( In a nutshell, they explain the most successful ways to become a more resilient person, including keeping positive about the future and having a clear head during stressful situations. It’s easy to be swept into a tide of fear and doubt, but we need to grasp a lifesaver instead of allowing the waves to tug us down where we can’t breathe.
If you have a problem—especially one that feels insurmountable—you need to find a way to step back and look at it objectively. Let’s say that there are layoffs happening where you work. You need your income and health insurance benefits, obviously. You also know that you are likely to be the next person cut loose. You could wait it out, gnawing on your fingernails until they bleed. You can come home to your family and take your anger and stress out on them. You can guzzle a six-pack and gobble down an entire bag of Doritos. But these things will not quell your stress. In fact, they may add to your problems. It’s time for you to look at the problem from a different perspective. To increase your resiliency.
The APA suggests turning to friends, family, and organizations such as church for support. Talking it through can help alleviate the fear. Accepting that there are some situations out of your control is another positive coping mechanism. Finding a new goal…such as searching for a new job or considering a career change…will help put you back into the driver’s seat. Exercise can help because you are taking care of yourself, which is a mood lifter. I know, I know. All these suggestions sound fantastic, but actually making them happen takes work.
But humans are adaptable. Behavior modification isn’t a work of fiction. They say it takes three weeks to make something a habit. Whether or not that’s true, I do know that after a month of regular exercise I began to no longer put it off. It became part of my daily life, blending into my schedule so seamlessly I now feel I’m missing something if I don’t do it. I’m heading headfirst into a very stressful situation very soon, but I feel I am, for the most part, resilient. I am going to try to look at the challenges ahead in a positive manner. I won’t let fear guide me, because otherwise I will make poor decisions by working out of my emotional state instead of my intellectual state of mind.
What about you? Where do you stand? If you’re more likely to eat seven Big Macs when you’re struggling with adversity than you are to hit the gym, you may want to take a look at how you’re handling problems. And you may want to change that. Starting today.
Where to find Richard Davidson's book:

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