Dear Dr. Yael,
I am very envious of my friend who always seems to keep her moods on an even keel despite being beset by all kinds of problems around her. I wish there was some way I could be like my friend, and when I start feeling down, I could be more positive and have my moods more even in life.
Your friend must have worked on herself a tremendous amount to be able to change her perspective and control her emotions. Most of the time, people who appreciate their brachos in life and are grateful in life tend to be able to deal with life’s struggles more effectively. I often try to help my clients focus on all their brachos in life. When focusing on what we have and the positives in our lives, we are able to deal with our challenges more effectively. I know people who have great obstacles in their lives but always seem to be cheerful. These people have worked on themselves to be grateful and to focus on the brachos they have. This is not to say that everyone isn’t entitled to a bad day or to get upset or feel sad; rather, people who practice gratitude and focus on the positive generally are able to be happier people.
For example a person whose business had a reversal, but tries to keep his attitude positive, is able to accept that this will be a difficult time in his/her life and then work to revive his/her business. If your mind is focused with dark, negative feelings, it is hard to function in your day-to-day life. Try to work on changing your perspective and work on gratitude. When you are complimentary to other people and show gratitude to others, you will feel happy. You will also be more appreciated by others, which also makes us feel better. When you try to focus on people’s positive attributes as well as your own gifts in life, you will become a happier person. This may be hard to do if you come from a negative family, but anyone can work on themselves to focus on the positive and to be more grateful.
Learning and working on building emunah is also extremely helpful when dealing with various challenges and/or the ups and downs of life. It is imperative to keep in mind that whatever is happening, Hashem runs the world and whatever happens in your life is part of a bigger plan. When we accept things as being part of Hashem’s plan, we will be able to better accept our situation. We will remember that Hashem hasn’t forsaken us even if we are having a hard time. Working on emunah may also help keep you more even keeled, as when we truly see that Hashem has a plan, we are able to ride the roller coaster of life more effectively. Even just saying to yourself, “Hashem has a plan,” and “Hashem is in charge,” will help you get through those moments of difficulty. Sometimes we need to say this over and over again until it really cements.
Praising others will also help us feel more gratitude as well as feel happier and more positive. Giving specific praise is always more effective. Instead of saying thank you to your husband who took over, fed the children, and cleaned up the kitchen, you can say, “It really meant so much to me that you took over with the kids, fed them, and then cleaned up the kitchen. That was really above and beyond and it gave me the time I needed to recharge!” The specific and descriptive praise is so much more meaningful and will likely make your husband want to help you more often. This type of positivity also helps us feel calmer and happier.
Lastly, exercise is another way to help to deal with negative feelings. When you put exercise into your schedule, you help raise your endorphins. Pick an activity that you enjoy and that will get your heart pumping! Exercise is a known cure for anxiety and depression and it helps us maintain a stable mood. Hatzlacha in your journey to becoming calmer and more even keeled!