Learning Strategies Blog

Any Emotion Can Lead to Happiness

by Pete Bissonette

Do you ever wish you could feel more empathy toward a peer than you do? Or that you could feel less attraction toward a toxic person in your life? Or that you should be more excited for an upcoming vacation?

Whether the emotion you desire is pleasant or unpleasant, your ability to feel the emotions you think you should feel could be impacting your happiness and well-being, suggests research from the American Psychological Association.

Researchers surveyed 2,324 students from eight countries on 1) the emotions they desired to feel, 2) the emotions they actually felt, and 3) their levels of life satisfaction and depressive symptoms.

Across cultures, participants who experienced the emotions they desired—both pleasant and unpleasant—were happier overall, reporting greater well-being and fewer depressive symptoms.

“Happiness is more than simply feeling pleasure and avoiding pain. Happiness is about having experiences that are meaningful and valuable, including emotions that you think are the right ones to have,” explained lead researcher Maya Tamir, Ph.D., psychology professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in the study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Any emotion can be positive in one context and negative in another, Tamir concluded. Even when people feel good, they often think they should feel even better. This longing can decrease their overall happiness.

Fully welcoming any feeling you experience—whether hostility or hatred, passion or empathy—can help you let go of the need to control or possess your feelings so they don’t derail your happiness, says Hale Dwoskin in our Letting Go Paraliminal.

Hale recommends the following steps to allow your feelings and emotions to flow freely:

1) Welcome your feeling—the thoughts, beliefs, feelings, memories, or anything else that may be holding you back. Welcome any sensations you are feeling in this moment.

2) Welcome any “wanting” to do something about the feeling. Welcome wanting to fix it, wanting to change it, or wanting to control it.

3) Welcome any sense this feeling is personal, about you or who you are. When you identify with your emotions, they appear real. That’s when they can hurt. When you welcome any sense your emotions are personal, you often find they naturally dissolve.

Notice how with the first three steps of welcoming, you quiet your mind, and perhaps already feel happier and more relaxed. As you let go, you open your mind to a new state of expansiveness.

4) Welcome this emptiness as unlimited possibility.

When your feelings simply flow through you, there is no opportunity to become stuck. As you go through this process several times, you can experience a substantial difference in any situation and allow your experience to simply be.

To free yourself from unwanted emotions that derail your best intentions, I recommend you listen to the Letting Go Paraliminal. Simply push play, close your eyes, relax, and listen. This closed-eye process activates your “whole mind” with a precise blend of music and words to help you get the most out of every minute.

To learn more about Letting Go and all our other Paraliminal programs, please click here.