June 21, 2018 |Gideon Hanekom

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Controlling emotions is one of the most powerful and beneficial things you can learn to do in your life. It is very difficult to create new results or take control of your life and relationships if you constantly and easily fall victim to disempowering emotions. It will literally make or break whatever you want to achieve in life.

In this post, however, I want to challenge you to actually go further than just controlling emotions.

Controlling emotions is a great thing but learning how to create emotions that are beneficial to your life, is better.

Moreover, there is one specific emotion I want you to start focusing on – which is HAPPINESS.

What I’m going to tell you now might sound very “woo-woo” or out there, but enough research has been done on this to make a very important point:

Increased happiness has the power to completely change your life for the better.

In fact, here are some secondary benefits usually linked to happiness:

  • Happy people make more money (e.g. happy salespeople outsell their peers by at least 15%) and are more productive at work.
  • Happiness is good for our health; happy people are less likely to get sick, and they live longer.
  • Happiness is good for our relationships. Happy people are more likely to get married and to have fulfilling marriages, and they have more friends.
  • Happy people are more generous, which leads to increased feelings and fulfilment.
  • Happy people cope better with stress and trauma.
  • Happy people are more creative and are better able to see the big picture.

So as you can see, happiness is a pretty valuable commodity. That’s no surprise.

And like all valuable commodities, everybody wants it, or more of it.

Can you think of a person who doesn’t want to be happier?

Have you ever met a person who says “Ya know, I don’t think I want to be happier”?

Of course, you haven’t.

Do you know why?

Because that person doesn’t exist.

All of us want to be happier.

We all want more satisfaction and we all want more fulfilment.

In some sense, happiness is like money. It’s always nice to have a little bit more.

That’s what this article is all about – getting happier, more satisfied and more fulfilled.

I’m going to show you 9 ways that you can use to gain higher levels of happiness, satisfaction, and fulfilment.

These are the actual habits that super happy people use every day to live more fully, more richly and more in each moment.

So, if you’re looking to get a boost of the good stuff in your life, read on.

9 Ways to Be Happier, More Satisfied and More Fulfilled

Think About Others More

In many respects, happiness is not a solo affair.

Certainly, you can be happy about the things that you do for yourself.

However, studies have shown that true long-term happiness comes from without, not from within.

In other words, what you do for others can bring you the happiness you desire.

So, start by think less about yourself and more about the people around you.

What can you do to raise their levels of happiness?

It doesn’t have to be a lot. Oftentimes, small gestures go further than large ones.

Stay Busy

So, are idle hands really the devil’s workshop.

Well, sometimes, yes.

Now, this isn’t about having a Puritanical work ethic. Far from it.

Instead, it’s about staying engaged.

Busy is one thing.

Productively busy is quite another.

When you’re curious about the world, you have an inexhaustible well of interest to pull from.

Each and every one of those interests involves learning, experimenting and growing your knowledge.

This is more than enough to keep you busy, fully engaged and connected.

Connected people are happy people. So, get busy!

Develop Close Relationships

Do you know one of the biggest health challenges facing middle-aged people?

No, it isn’t heart disease or diabetes or high blood pressure.

In fact, it’s not a direct health issue at all.

One of the biggest challenges facing people as they grow older is LONELINESS.

The lack of close personal relationships that causes loneliness also causes or contributes to a slew of health problems.

People who continue to develop close personal relationships as they age don’t face these issues.

As a result, they experience a higher quality of life which includes greater happiness, satisfaction, and fulfilment.

Maintain the Relationships You Have

Because close relationships foster well-being, it is critical to your current and future happiness that you continue to maintain the relationships that you have.

Love and friendship are two-way streets.

It is more important that you give to your friends and loved ones than it is for them to give to you.

Ideally, this give-and-take is in balance.

Both parties in the relationship are giving to the other in equal measure.

So, don’t forget to give of yourself.

Don’t treat your relationships as a tit for tat game.

Be free and open with your time, energy and love.

If you do, you will reap the rewards of your caring.

Talk From the Soul

We’ve all experienced small talk, both as a listener and as a speaker.

Have you ever wondered why it’s called “small talk”?

It’s called small talk because it’s largely short on content.

Think about it, small talk avoids any subject that could possibly offend either listener.

That means that it’s not very interesting and it’s not very satisfying.

Instead of spending your life making small talk and tippy-toeing around imagined sensibilities, talk from the soul.

Let what you believe in out.

When you speak passionately about your passions you will most certainly alienate and offend some of the people within earshot.

That’s good!

Now you don’t have to waste your time with them.

The people who remain will be people worth getting to know better.

Those are the relationships that will bring you greater happiness over the long run.

Small Rewards Are the Best

You’ve probably heard the phrase “The best things in life are free” many times.

Well, this old saying, like most old sayings contains more than a small element of truth.

We always think that big events in life are the ones that will bring us the most satisfaction and happiness.

When we think of happiness, we almost always think of these types of events – weddings, birthdays and anniversaries.

However, when most people are asked to recall a happy event, they rarely say that one of these traditionally big events were their happiest moment.

This occurs because we are conditioned to expect happiness out of big life events and to ignore the happiness that’s all around us every day.

Yes, it’s true.

Real sustained happiness comes from the small rewards that life brings.

A beautiful sunset, a quiet moment with a loved one or the sound of the birds in the trees all bring more to life than any wedding or birthday celebration ever could.

That’s because they are spontaneous, free and there for the taking if you only make the effort to look.

Buy Experiences, Not Things

Money is the universal solvent.

It has the ability to dissolve many of the barriers that prevent the typical person from obtaining the things in life that they desire.

However, using this money to purchase things is a mistake, one that the majority of people make.

When someone pictures themselves with a surplus of money, oftentimes they will talk in terms of the things that the money could buy – cars, electronics, and clothing.

However, using the money to purchase non-essential things is a waste of resources.

Instead of purchasing things, money should be used to purchase experiences.

Travel is a particularly good use of money in this regard.

This is because experiences help us expand our outlook and understanding of life.

This expanded outlook, in turn, allows for greater tolerance and understanding.

With intolerance and anger decreased, happiness, satisfaction, and fulfilment have room to grow, increasing one’s overall enjoyment of life. 

Don’t Eat the Marshmallow

How good are you at deferring gratification? For many of us deferring gratification can be difficult.

As a society, we are getting more and more accustomed to getting our needs filled in a nearly instantaneous manner.

Fueled by the internet and electronics, all you need is a whim, a device, and a credit card in order to see that whim become reality.

Now, while this seems like a wonderful development for everyone involved, in actuality it is somewhat less than wonderful in practice.

Constant gratification tends to make a person jaded.

The ability to get nearly everything whenever you want makes one jaded.

Nothing seems special anymore and if you can’t get it now, it certainly isn’t worth putting any more energy into obtaining it.

The result is stagnation, dissatisfaction, and ennui.

Various studies have proven this phenomenon as fact.

In one longitudinal study, children were given a marshmallow.

They were told that they could eat it whenever they wanted.

Of course, many children ate the marshmallow immediately.

However, a few saved the treat for later.

The children were then followed for several years.

Over time, the children who saved the marshmallow were happier, got better grades and were more accepted by their peers than the children who ate the marshmallow immediately.

This shows that delaying gratification can serve to decrease dissatisfaction and boredom and increase the happiness that you feel when needs big or small are met.

Be Appreciative and Grateful

Self-entitlement, arrogance, and selfishness are, by no means, attractive or desirable qualities.

Yet, when you look around, you never fail to see an example of one of these character flaws in action.

If no one aspires to be entitled, arrogant or selfish, then how is it that so many people manage to act poorly towards the people they come in contact with on a daily basis.

The answer lies in a lack of appreciation and gratitude.

As was the case with instant gratification, when you expect to receive things, when you put yourself and your wants and needs first, you end up losing the natural ability to appreciate what you have and what you are receiving.

Instead of being grateful for what you have, you simply push past your fellow travellers in life.

In doing so, you not only do a disservice to yourself, you also do a great disservice to those around you.

In reality, you are not entitled to anything.

Freedom is not a right, it is a privilege.

You certainly have the ability to do what you can to see that your needs are met and that your goals are reached.

However, in doing so, realise that other people laboured to produce the things that meet your needs.

Remember, no matter how lofty the goal is that you’ve reached, you did not do it alone.

You were helped along your way by innumerable people who contributed to your success in acts both big and small.

Keep this in mind, start treating those around you with appreciation and you’ll begin to see that they will treat you the same in return.

controlling emotions

Now, this is where I want to change the pace up a tad …

Happiness is just one emotion that can benefit your life.

But what about all the other positive emotions?

Moreover, what about all the so-called negative emotions that tend to hold us back?

Well, it all comes down to the concept of controlling emotions.

Emotions don’t have a mind of their own and can be controlled.

Did you know that you can be in complete control of your emotions by simply making conscious choices?

It’s a simple concept, but the reason why so many people don’t do it is that it’s not always that easy.

There are three steps to consider …

  1. The first step is recognising the negative thoughts you have, and not judging yourself for having them.
  2. The second step is to acknowledge the negative thought, and then let it go.
  3. And the third and final step, once you’ve mastered the first two, is to recognise the negative thought, acknowledge it, and then turn it around so that you are saying and thinking something positive to yourself. This positive thought essentially cancels out the negative thought, and in this way, your brain learns a new way of thinking.

You can start taking control of your emotions today, and by extension your life, by making the choice to begin recognising your negative thoughts.

When you do, you’ll be well on your way to truly changing the way you think, and mastering those emotions.

But, what exactly is emotional mastery?

It is the ability to have faith in your actions and reactions. It is the ability to persevere in any situation. It is the ability to turn your thoughts around, and in doing so, change the direction of not only your mind but your life.

Mastering controlling emotions is one of the most valuable skills you can award yourself with.

But, practising this mastery happens every day, in little, almost imperceptible ways, and in big, can’t-miss-it ways.

It’s really all about the choices you make.

However, even with the best of emotional mastery practice and intent, there will be times when things just seem to spiral out of control.

These times won’t be nearly as bad as they would have been had you not practised any emotional mastery at all, but there are still some skills you can develop to get yourself back on track in a hurry.

When things go bad in a hurry, they tend to go bad quickly, but you can always make the choice to turn them around.

And learning how to do that quickly and efficiently is truly valuable.

One of the greatest benefits, for example, is confidence.

When you know that you can emotionally handle any situation with grace and ease, your everyday life just becomes easier with that confidence.

One thing to remember in all of this is that you can only control yourself.

You have absolutely no control over how another person reacts (or overreacts) to a situation.

You have absolutely no control over their emotions, only your own.

When you internalise this, you realise that many of the things you may have taken personally have nothing at all to do with you, but everything to do with the person acting out.

And the key here is to offer unconditional love and to not internalise any of their actions as your responsibility.

This ultimate mastery of self will create peace in your life where there may have been only frustration before!

Life will be more peaceful. Not externally necessarily, but internally for sure.

Relationships will be easier.

A business will be more enjoyable.

Controlling emotions will become second nature.

When you have learned to master your emotions, there is one action you can take that will fulfil you deeply.

Share what you have learned!

It is in teaching what we know that true mastery becomes possible.

You can share it by teaching others how to get rid of unhealthy emotions, begin thinking more positively, and by exhibiting unconditional love.

You can share it by teaching others your method of controlling emotions when things get rough, and by accepting them fully for who they are.

This is the ultimate benefit of emotional mastery,

Sharing what you have learned and maximising the effect of it in your own life even more.

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of TheRelationshipGuy.com, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as Marriage.com and The Good Men Project.

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