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Happiness Tip: Let Yourself Feel What You Feel

We are living in an age of anxiety, and when we feel stressed out (or sad, or disappointed, for that matter) our world offers us a host of ways to NUMB those negative feelings, to not really feel them.

For example, we can spend hours on Facebook avoiding our feelings. Or we can eat the whole pan of brownies. Personally, I tend towards numbing my worries and other unpleasant feelings by staying very, very busy.

The problem is that when we numb unpleasant feelings, we numb everything that we are feeling. So to honestly feel the positive things in life — to truly feel love, or joy, or profound gratitude — we must also let ourselves feel fear, and grief, and frustration.

If you are feeling anxious or excited or proud, let yourself FEEL that emotion. Where in your body does it live? Is it in the pit of your stomach? In your throat? What, really, does it feel like? Does it have a shape, or a texture, or a color?

If we want to be happy, we need to practice feeling, to practice listening to our heart Click To Tweet

Even though it can be scary to expose ourselves to our strongest emotions, neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor teaches us that most emotions don’t last longer than 90 seconds. What you’ll probably find is that if you can sit still with a strong emotion and let yourself feel it, even the worst emotional pain rises, crests, breaks, and recedes like a wave on the surf.

And after these emotions pass, we’ve usually gained something by experiencing them. Your emotions are how your heart talks to you, how it tells you what choices to make.

As Omid Kordestani, a senior advisor to Google, reminds us, “In life you make the small decisions with your head and the big decisions with your heart.” If we want to be happy, we need to practice feeling, to practice listening to our heart. This is the way to know who we are and what we want.

Take Action: What feeling have you been distracting yourself from lately? Take 90 seconds right now to just feel it.

Join the Discussion: How do you numb your emotions? Inspire others by leaving a comment below.