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  1. Five Strategies to Build Resilience People often try to cope with difficult situations by making an effort to be strong - or even pretending that it's not happening. The problem with this approach is that it fails to deal with the feelings that the situation brings up. Instead of pushing yourself or putting a "brave face on it", build resilience so that you can cope with the inevitable challenges that life throws at us. Start practising these healthier ways of handling adversity and discovering happiness through resilience.  1. Tell a different story Have you ever gone over and over something that's happened in your head? Perhaps you wonder how you could have behaved differently. But this is just reliving a painful experience and does nothing to help us move on. Instead, you need to find ways of resetting your thoughts. One way to do this is called Expressive Writing. This involves writing down anything that comes into your head, on whatever is bothering you. This will allow you to examine your thoughts and confront them. It doesn't have to be great writing; the aim is not to produce a quality piece of work, but rather to get your thoughts and feelings out. Then you can try another exercise called Finding Silver Linings. Although it may not seem as though there are any benefits to a bad experience, it may have showed you who your real friends are, or taught you that you are stronger than you thought you were. These exercises will help you feel less pessimistic; you can maintain the benefits by continuing to practice them and build resilience.  2. Confront your fears Adopting the practice of rewriting the narrative is useful when dealing with past problems, but doesn't help when dealing with present fears. How can we handle things that have yet to happen? You can start by slowly building up your tolerance, and gradually pushing yourself a little further every time. For example, if you're nervous about taking a long-distance flight but would one day like to visit Australia, begin with a short flight and gradually extend your travels. As you become more comfortable with spending longer in the air, you will work your way up to a long-haul flight. This works by slowly desensitizing you with gradual and increased exposure to a situation you're afraid of or uncomfortable with.  3. Be kind to yourself We're often much harder on ourselves than we would be on other people, and think that we're alone in our fears. But being kind to yourself will be very beneficial to your well-being. So practice self-compassion, and be as kind to yourself as you would to others. This involves a three-step process. Start by being mindful of your feelings, but don't judge them. Simply acknowledge them. Then remind yourself that everyone feels this way at some point. Finish by giving yourself permission to have these feelings and accept yourself as you are. If you find this difficult, ask yourself how you would treat a friend with the same feelings. You can also try writing a letter to yourself; make sure that it contains only words of compassion and acceptance.  4. Meditation Meditation and mindfulness are a great tool to build resilience. They help bring us back to the present, rather than living in the past or worrying about the future. These techniques also help us deal with negative feelings. You can try programs like Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which are designed to show you how to use meditation to improve your mental and physical well-being. There are also techniques like the Body Scan, which can be used to identify where you hold stress and teach you how to relax those areas. Or you can develop a more mindful relationship with food, rather than turning to junk food when you're stressed. Another important technique is mindful breathing, which involves focusing on your breathing and will help you experience fewer negative thoughts.  5. Forgive people Forgiveness may be difficult, but holding on to grudges is not the route to happiness. How can your well-being develop properly if you're living in the past? Begin by acknowledging what happened, but then decide to give up your feelings of resentment so that you can move on. Forgiveness is for your own sake, not that of others; you will benefit from understanding other people more or finding ways in which you can learn from the experience. Remember that everyone is human, and the person who wronged you may be suffering as well. Viewing these negative experiences in a different light can help you to develop your resilience and teach you how to cope with difficult situations in the future - something that will inevitably occur at various points throughout your life.     Model Photo: Colorbox.com  Written by Guest AuthorWe are happy to publish articles by guest authors that will broaden the perspective and bring new insights. If you are interested in publishing an article here on happiness.org please contact us.
  2. Self-awareness compared to self-esteem Srini Pillay, MD, defines self-acceptance as “an individual’s acceptance of all his/ her attributes, positive or negative. It includes body acceptance, self-protection from negative criticism, and believing in one’s capacities” in his blog post on Greater Good. He links improved emotional well-being to self-acceptance.  Though closely related, self-acceptance is different from self-esteem as the latter refers to how worthwhile or valuable we see ourselves. The former, on the other hand, refers to a comprehensive affirmation of self. This allows us to accept all of ourselves, not just the good. We are able to recognize our limitations and weaknesses, but this by no chance hinders our ability to accept ourselves for who we are.  Many of us who have low self-acceptance try to suppress this by trying to accomplish great things. But this only serves as a Band-Aid approach to improving our self-esteem. Srini Pillay goes on to say that, “But this only helps your self-esteem for a while. That’s because achievement is a poor substitute for intimacy.”  The truth is, if we want to improve our self-esteem, then we need to honestly explore all parts of ourselves that we have not come to terms with and that we have not fully accepted. It’s only when we stop being harsh critics of ourselves that we can develop a positive sense of who we are. This then explains why self-esteem naturally goes up as soon as we become self-accepting, which is crucial to our emotional well-being and happiness.  What triggers self-approval from the word go? Much like self-esteem, we are able to become self-accepting as children to the extent our parents fully accept us. Scientific studies have shown that children who are younger than 8 don't have the ability to create a distinct sense of emotional well-being other than that demonstrated by their parents or other caregivers.  Extreme parental evaluation goes further beyond critiquing certain behaviors. For example, a parent may convey the message that their child is ungrateful, not smart enough… and so on and this significantly affects our self-acceptance. In short, most of us continue ‘parenting’ ourselves much like how we were parented.  What are the emotional and physical impacts of low self-accepting traits? It is true that with little or no self-approval, our psychological well-being suffers and even when we seek help, it is often less fruitful compared to other people in the same situation who are more self-accepting.  When we are low self-accepting, the brain sectors that control our emotions and stress levels have less gray matter compared to people who are self-accepting, meaning we physically have less tissue to work with in our brains which can trigger anxiety and stress.  How to accept ourselves So far we have seen that our parents and the environment around us have had a profound effect on our ability to become self-accepting. But, in truth, we need to let the past go and learn new techniques of accepting ourselves as we are. For the sake of our peace of mind, happiness and overall emotional well-being, we first need to accept ourselves unconditionally.  There are three main ways to boost our self-approval or acceptance levels and therefore our emotional well-being: • Self-regulation This allows us to shut down self- deprecating emotions such as not being good enough and focusing more on our positive attributes and restructuring negative occurrences, so we look at them as great opportunities that are meant to help us improve ourselves. • Self-awareness Sometimes, our self-accepting level goes further than our conscious level such that when we are not self-accepting, we essentially split ourselves and feel incomplete. That is, the part that needs forgiveness and the one that should forgive are at loggerheads. Self-awareness helps us understand what is happening at a deeper level. • Self-transcendence This allows us to depend on things that are outside of ourselves to define who we are. That is, we turn to an unseen force that connects us with the world. Some of the ways we can become self-transcendent is by contributing to charities, helping the less fortunate, and so on. Self-transcendence has been proven to impact our brains positively by increasing the release of our feel good hormones, that is, dopamine and serotonin which reduce our stress levels and give us emotional fulfilment. The role of meditation in increasing self-acceptance Loving-kindness and mindful meditations can help us become more self-accepting. By loving ourselves more and not judging ourselves, we are able to lower our brain response to anxiety and stress. As we practice these, the activity in our brain regions that affect emotions will start improving.  One size does not fit all! We are unique, and so not all of these methods work in the same for everyone. The important thing is to affirm that you need to become more self-accepting and start doing what works for you. Take it one little step at a time, and you will start seeing positive results.     Model Photo: Colorbox.com  Written by Guest AuthorWe are happy to publish articles by guest authors that will broaden the perspective and bring new insights. If you are interested in publishing an article here on happiness.org please contact us.
  3. A Visual Reminder: How to Have Self-Compassion Anna Vital has created this amazing infographic about self-compassion. "How Not to be Hard on Yourself" is a joyful everyday reminder of the steps towards happiness and self-compassion. With this fun and easy-to-follow infographic, learning how to have self-compassion is easy! You can print it out and put it on your desk at work or on the fridge at home. For simple reminders to help you be nice to yourself!  A lot of what is on this info-graphic has to do with how you relate to other people: Surrounding yourself with people who want you to succeed! Remember you don't have to always stand alone! Although sometimes you'll have to when your opinion isn't shared by the group. But don't be afraid to stand up for what you believe. Try not to compare yourself with others. It's like comparing apples and oranges: They just aren't the same. When other people give your critics, it's so you can learn, not to bring you down. Other important points are: Learn from your mistakes! There's no right way to do anything, so why not give it a try. Don't be so hard on yourself about your past. Learn what you can from it and move on. Anger and weaknesses can be turned into strong productive motivators. They say it takes 10,000 hours to learn a new skill (Mr. Kaufman claims otherwise) so try, try again. Support Anna Vital by buying one of her prints. Smile and remember to be self-compassionate! Image Source: Anna Vital  Written by Tine SteissTine is an artist, meditator, media engineer and student of happiness. If she is not traveling she's working on turning her rooftop terrace into an urban garden paradise. Find out more about her on: Instagram Facebook