The Ten Essential Keys to Emotional Well-Being: Part I

Emotional well-being is not so mysterious when you can break it down to smaller steps. You can adopt a few new habits and questions some of your old ones to find all the answers you need for more balance and joy. Here are a few pointers.

Essential Key #1: Meditate Daily
No, you do not have to climb on a mountain and sit motionless for three hours. Anyone can meditate, anywhere, anytime. Meditation is simply a state of focused awareness and it is your first key to happiness.
Brian Tracy has a technique to count backwards from 100, which is a great way to start a meditation practice.
The point is to clear your mind of all the clutter and to take a few moments away from the distractions. Vegging-out in front of the computer or television does not count. Neither does reading this post or anything else.
Start with five minutes a day of slowly counting backwards with your eyes shut, listening to guided meditation recordings, practicing self-hypnosis for relaxation, or you can simply sit comfortable and clear your mind by focusing on your breathing.
Think you don’t have the time? Daily meditation will help you think more clearly and work more efficiently and you will be better focused throughout the day.
With just a few minutes a day of getting into a state of disconnect from the world, you will feel more peace, have a better outlook, and unblock mental space that may be pinned up with negative energy or stress.
There are many meditation techniques out there and you don’t have to make it long or fancy. Here are a few resources:
• Stress Management from the Mayo Clinic
• Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn
www.MindBody101.comMeditation CD’s and MP3’s I’ve produced. You can preview online.
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Essential Key #2: Change your dialog with self
We can be so cruel and nasty to ourselves. We judge, we criticize, we get angry and we don’t forgive. We use language unfit for speaking out loud and we would be considered a harassing nuisance if we treated others like we treat ourselves.
Why do we allow this to continue? It is not productive, it accomplishes nothing good, and it is probably the most destructive habit.
When we speak to ourselves terribly, the feeling is matched. No one has this power over us, only we can do this to ourselves – which is a great irony. We treat each other (on the most part) with civility and manners and it is not nearly as influential as how we treat ourselves. It is fairly easy to put a smile on a stranger’s face, so do it for you, too.
The most important dialog you will ever have is the one you have with yourself. Speak kindly and respectfully, skip the tirades when a mistake has been made. If you’ve learned to berate and belittle, take responsibility for this behavior. Otherwise, it will halt your journey to success and happiness.
You have the power to change this. Some useful tools to do this are various relaxation techniques including meditation, as mentioned earlier. Hypnosis with a Certified Hypnotherapist and self-hypnosis are powerful in this realm and can bring you results quickly.
Your responsibility is to practice kinder and nicer self-talk over and over again, stop the destructive thoughts and dialog in mid sentence. Start paying attention and being conscious of your language and behavior, and in time you will change your automated responses.
Recommended reading on the subject:
“What to Say When You Talk to Yourself,” by Shad Helmstetter, PhD.
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Essential Key #3: Get Some Rest
When we are tired we tend to blow things out of proportion. We hear bad news of some difficulty or challenge, and it just seems like the end of the world. This make sense, after all, we are too tired to fix anything.
Sleep deprivation affects 50-70% of Americans and it can lead to aches and pains, irritability, disruption in cognitive abilities, symptoms that are mistaken for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), weight gain, increased risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, and the list goes on, (Wikipedia). All these symptoms add stress which affects our state of mind.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for adults, much more for children. If you are not getting the recommended amount of sleep nightly, you must change this to expect your mind and body to operate at their optimum.
If you are sleep deprived, make a commitment to get your appropriate number of hours of sleep for a week in a row and see how you feel. No, you can’t be sleep deprived over the week and “catch-up” over the weekend. Your sleep commitment should be nightly.
If you are having trouble sleeping, then stay committed until you have a restful night, and then another and another. There may be very simple solutions to your sleep deprivation. You can start with self-hypnosis for sleep, meditation, and ensuring your sleep in an environment free of distractions.
It is also very important to shut off the TV before you go to sleep. The background noise can not only distract you but also dump useless and harmful messages into your subconscious. Stay away from stressful or disturbing images and activities a couple hours before bedtime, and don’t forget to count the sheep!
Here are a few resources:
Sleep Habits: More Important than You Think from WebMD.com
http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/important-sleep-habits

Yoga Nidra Meditation CD: Extreme Relaxation of Conscious Deep Sleep
Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
http://www.amazon.com/Yoga-Nidra-Meditation-Relaxation-Conscious/dp/0972...

My recording, Pure Relaxation, was designed for several purposes, one of them being a good night’s sleep. Clients have reported that Calm the Mind, Calm the Body has also helped with sleep. Listen to a sample…maybe that will be enough to put you to sleep.
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Essential Key #4: Find New Friends
We all have embarrassing moments, and some of them stay with us forever. As I was recalling one of mine the other day, (the details of which I am keeping to myself), it occurred to me that we never get embarrassed in front of our loved ones. None of the horrifying moments I can remember happened left me ashamed of those who love me.
Most of these uncomfortable incidents happened around those people who are no longer in my life, and I don’t even miss. If so, why am I holding on to the feeling of discomfort? We are most concerned about our behavior around those whose attention and approval we seek, rather than those whose attention and approval we have.
As more mature adults we usually have a fewer of these incidences, a show of self-confidence and greater comfort with ourselves. If you are still chronically embarrassed, then you need to work on your self-esteem and confidence, and perhaps redirect your attention to those who love you most.
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If you are serious about making life changes to improve your experience, you must take inventory of how you spend your time and who you spend it with. If you are partaking in unhealthy habits, gossiping, airing grievances and being generally negative or even destructive, you may want to get some distance.
Don’t fool yourself thinking that you are not influenced by your friends’ behavior - negativity is contagious. This is one of the most difficult changes to make in life.
A recent sociological study showed that you are much more likely to be obese if your friends are obese. It is not that obesity is a contagious disease, but that we are attracted to those who are like us, and tend to imitate those around us.
This study was done in regards to people’s weight, but the idea can be applied to other aspects of our behavior and habits. Are you more likely to be unhappy? What about more stressed out? Are you more likely to be focused on gossip when surrounded by it? Are you more likely to worry about various status symbols when those around you are preoccupied with their stuff? http://www.ted.com/talks/nicholas_christakis_the_hidden_influence_of_soc...
I would rather be surrounded by those who inspire me and represent all the good things that I want to be or achieve. If a relationship is stressful, or I find myself doing things that are not in line with my values and my life’s purpose, it is not healthy. I know it is time to get some distance and reevaluate.
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Essential Key #5: Get Rid of Your Supposed-To’s.
Lucinda Bassett said it best, “Don’t should all over yourself.” We all have our “Shoulds” and “Supposed-To’s” that we have picked-up throughout life. Many of them are adopted early in life in the household in which we grow-up. We’ve taken on other people’s rules and habits as a matter of subconscious programming. Who knows where a particular habit started and how it evolved into what it is today through generations of habit hand-me-downs, at it really doesn’t matter.
Another way we take on more supposed-to’s is by trying to keep up with what others around us are doing. If so many people partake in a particular activity, buy a particular item, enjoy a particular movie, etc, then we should as well. We should stay on top of things, look the part and be ready for every conversation topic.
When we adopt other people’s rules we are putting undo pressure on ourselves to perform in a way not in accordance with our values. That’s a lot of work and time spent on doing things you may not really be enjoying. What a waste!
What are some of your supposed-to’s? Here are a few examples I’ve heard: I am supposed-to go to an Ivy League University in order to succeed. I can’t play with food. I should always do all household chores before going out on the weekend. I should never pay full price for anything. I am supposed-to teach my children to read by age three. I must have a perfectly manicured lawn. I am supposed-to spend more time doing charity work.
It is not bad to have rules by which we live and conduct ourselves; in fact it is absolutely necessary in order to have some sanity and predictability. The question is, are these rules yours? And, are these rules you live by right for you?
Take inventory of your activities and commitments. Ask yourself the following:
• Have I signed-up, volunteered, joined, and promised too many things?
• Am I partaking in an activity which I dread?
• Am I working on a goal that is not really what I want, but what I am expected to do? Anthony Robbins talks about how achieving a goal after hard work, realizing you are not even happy with it, is one of the saddest things.
• Have I restricted myself from doing something I enjoy – an extreme sport or writing a book, for example – because I should be focused on other things?

What are some of the rules you have imposed on yourself which you may question as beneficial?

Part II will include The Essential Keys to Emotional Well-Being #6-10, and will be posted mid-July.

Author's Bio: 

Avinoam Lerner is a Certified Hypnotherapist who uses a multi-discipline approach to healing and personal development. His practice is located in Newton, MA and his specialties include overcoming addictions, holistic weight loss, stress management, anxiety and fears. Find Avinoam’s blog, Healing Beyond Therapy, at http://mindbody101.wordpress.com/.