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How to Use Your Emotions as a Guidance System to Happiness

I truly enjoy every single minute of my life ~ Richard Branson.

Few people are more successful than Richard Branson, owner of a vast network of companies covering virtually every industry imaginable, from travel and health to banking, entertainment and even space exploration. One thing seems to make Branson stand out from the (small) crowd of the super rich and super successful – his enthusiasm and ‘joie de vivre.’ Could this be the secret of his success?

If you are enjoying yourself, doing what you love and feeling great about it, you are more likely to do well. This is the place where you lose yourself, become one with what you are doing – you are ‘in the zone.’ If you are bored, unhappy or self-conscious, then things are not likely to go so well.

It can be very helpful to regard your emotions as a kind of navigation system. You can interpret feeling bad as something being wrong and in need of correction. Feeling good, on the other hand, is a sign that all is well. So feeling good becomes an important indicator of your psychological well being, and making yourself feel better is an important skill to develop.

First, and most importantly, you do need to believe that you can make a difference to the way you feel. You really are in control. This can be hard to accept when you’re feeling really bad, but if you cannot accept this, you won’t get any better.

Second, remember that it shouldn’t be a struggle – feeling good should be an easy, natural thing, and you should experience it all the time. It’s your ‘default state’, and the only reason that feeling bad seems so normal is because you’ve been doing it for so long.

Many people focus habitually on the negative side of things and whatever situation they find themselves in they complain and find fault. There are always things you can find fault with, and there are always things you can be happy about – it’s all a question of where you put your focus.

Things are never ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in themselves.
It all depends on how we see them.

Something which might make one person terrified (like absailing or making a speech) will be exhilarating and exciting for someone else. It’s not the situation – it’s the mental reaction to it.

Feeling good is a matter of seeing things in a certain way. In Chinese there is a phrase which people use at Chinese New Year: Fu Jai Yan Qien. It means ‘happiness is right in front of your eyes.’ You get the idea.

The best ‘practical’ way I have learned to continually feel good is to consciously enjoy every situation you are in. Sometimes it’s easy to enjoy your situation – when you’re doing something you love, when you’re with someone you like, when you’re in your favorite place.

Other times, it doesn’t seem so easy. We’ve conditioned ourselves to let circumstances push us around and to let other people pull our strings. But we can break free – we can feel good in any situation!

You can enjoy taking an exam. You can enjoy giving a speech. You can enjoy anything because this is how we are supposed to feel all the time. If only we could drop all the negative thinking we’ve picked up over the years.

How you enjoy every situation is up to you. Just find a way.

A good starting point is to look for a feeling of relief or to ‘reach for a better feeling thought.’ In other words, think of something which makes you feel better.

For example, suppose you are feeling angry about something that has happened. You cannot suddenly think yourself into feeling peace and happiness. But you can move one notch up on the emotional scale – you can reach for a feeling of disappointment.

Instead of being angry with the situation, think about how disappointed that things have worked out this way. You will find that you get a sense of relief. From here, you can reach for a feeling of optimism – things don’t stay the same for long and something good will come out of this, or something else will come along which is a more positive experience.

You can see how moving up the emotional scale, step by step, can be easy and effective. With gentle, persistent practice, you can become adept at this process.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter how you do it – just get to that feeling of enjoyment. Take the compass of your feelings seriously – it’s one of the most precious things you have.

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  • Since I’ve shared this post I feel compelled to comment that focusing on being happy is one reason I believe so many are not. It is a variation on “Do your own thing” and “Do what thou wilt” which are from the original deceiver who tells people to be totally selfish and not care about anyone else.

    Thinking happy thoughts is going to make you abundantly wealthy is propaganda promoted by those who want to make sure we never actually do what it really takes to be successful. That is the brass ring extended by MLMs and many other “opportunities” the originators use to get thousands of people working really hard to make them rich for which those people will see almost no return.

    To be happy, focus on helping others. Be satisfied with slow growth built over time so you can stay out of debt and create sustainable small businesses and families who create a better world for all. If positive thinking created abundance we would all know millionaires who weren’t willing to do anything – and I do mean ANYTHING – to get more money. I don’t know anyone like that and I know a ton of people. Do you?

    Those who have balanced lives with healthy relationships and successful businesses all built them over time and stayed out of debt so they did not end up enslaved to someone else. If you’re not happy, it is because you’re too self-focused. Go help someone who actually is worse off than you. As the old proverb says, “I was unhappy because I had no shoes – until I saw the boy who had no feet”.

    • Hi Gail Gardner. We are born to be happy. Not to suffer. You will be happy when you are in this moment. Most of us either will be brooding over the past or afraid of the future. Both past and future are illusions. Time is NOW. You live this moment…this second. So you actually live only when you are in the very moment. That is possible only when you love to be in the moment. That is possible only when you do a job you love. You will make the earth a better place if you do the job you love. Because you can love only which you are uniquely designed for. Great people like Jesus, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi has done the same thing. They did what they love to do. Yes, they sacrificed themselves…but still they loved doing it. Hope you understand my point. Thanks for you time. Share your views.