I will be speaking on the topic of finding inspiration on Saturday, March 3rd at Century House 620 Eighth Street, New Westminster. Century House’s annual Inspiration Day events run from 10 am to 1 pm. Tickets are $8.00 ($6.50 for Century House members). Please call 604-519-1066 for more information.
Everyone wants to be happy.
While we consume much of our time, attention and energy in the pursuit of happiness, the experience of happiness may seem transient and fleeting; we may enjoy pleasure, satisfaction and even joy for a time but these feelings always fade, and we’re back on the hunt for happiness.
Although emotional health is as important as physical health, most of us haven’t been taught how to foster emotional wellbeing. We recognize when we are sad, angry, anxious or happy but we usually ascribe the cause of these emotions to our circumstances.
We are sad when we suffer a loss, angry when we are insulted, anxious when facing adversity and happy when luck comes our way. Sometimes our emotions can be so strong that they narrow our thoughts. When anxious, we overestimate the challenges before us and underestimate our ability to meet them. When depressed, we think negatively about our selves, our situation and the future. When angry, we can only see our own points of view and how we have been harmed.
Our emotions exist because they helped our ancestors survive in the primitive world of the past. They have served important functions. Sadness helps us appreciate what we value most. Anger moves us to defend our selves and our loved ones. Anxiety alerts us to potential danger.
When a situation arouses our emotions, the less evolved early mammalian areas of the brain (the limbic system) are activated, highjacking our higher cortical functions, including our thoughts. That’s why judgment can be so impaired with anger . . . or when we fall in love.
The drama of human history and our own personal narratives arise from the sea of our emotions in which we toss and turn under the apparent influence of outside forces – what happens to us by circumstance or the actions of others. And throughout history, we have sought relief outside of our selves by consuming alcohol and other mood-altering chemicals.
Today we have reached a momentous time in history. Although we see daily in the news the best and worst in human behaviour, neuropsychology has essentially unveiled the user manual for the human mind. The established therapeutic approaches of mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy have been shown to change how our brains function and help us manage our own thoughts and emotions.
In upcoming columns, I’ll share these proven strategies to tame our emotions and foster emotional wellbeing.
I’ll be speaking on the topic of Emotional Wellness on Monday, March 5th at 7 pm at the Bob Prittie Metrotown Branch of the Burnaby Public Library in a free presentation put on in partnership with the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients public health education program. I’ll talk about how emotional health is as important as physical health, affecting every aspect of our lives; recognizing the symptoms of stress, anxiety, mood and other psychological conditions; key emotional health skills including emotional awareness and mindfulness, stress management and the managing of thoughts and feelings; and where to find help. Because seating is limited, please register online at www.bpl.bc.ca/events or in person at any branch. For more information, call 604-436-5400.