When was the last time you said to yourself: "I'm feeling really happy right now"?
This isn't the start of a pitiful post bemoaning how tired I feel about Covid (very!), or how much it rained in London in May (so, so much!). Nor is it an encouragement to stay positive and happy through all setbacks (read more about the dangers of toxic positivity). Instead, it's a recommendation to take note, and share, the pleasant feelings you've experienced recently.
Of the 50 most commonly selected feeling words in Feelmo, only five could be considered pleasant feelings: happy, calm, relaxed, comfortable and grateful, and none are in the top 25! This makes sense. When we feel sad or fearful, we tend to pull away from others and retreat into ourselves to reflect and ruminate about what's happening. Pleasant feelings like joy and excitement do the opposite: they're energizing! They push us outwards. They make us feel comfortable and confident. Reflection doesn't seem to be called for. Instead we focus on enjoying the feeling.
But how do we ensure that we keep feeling these pleasant feelings if we don't take note of their causes? Pleasant or not, all feelings contain important data that we easily miss if we don't pause to take note of them. By understanding what provides us with joy, what fills us with excitement and when we feel at peace, we can act with more intention to ensure that we feel this way more often. It's also important to take note of our pleasant feelings so we both know what we can do next time the blues come calling (and they undoubtedly will from time to time!), but also to remind ourselves that we do have plenty of moments of joy to cherish.
So how do you do it? Try to set a habit to regularly make space in your day to note down what you are feeling. I find this easier with a visual list of feeling words in front of me (might I suggest Feelmo for more feeling words?). Here, give it a try:
Now that you've named your feelings, start going deeper. Where does this feeling come from? When did you start feeling it? Were you doing anything in particular? With anyone special? Write down your findings if you want to be able to come back to this in the future or simply make a mental note of it.
Final step: share how you're feeling. It might feel awkward at first. Why should you tell your partner that you feel understood? Or your friend that you feel closeness? Because sharing unpleasant feelings is even harder! It's best to practice with these pleasant ones and get used to having those conversations. By sharing how you're feeling, you not only spread that warm, pleasant energy but you also let others know what's important to you. This will contribute to building stronger, more genuine relationships, where you can be vulnerable and know that you will be supported. It may be new to your friends too, but practice together and you will both have incredible emotional support when you need it the most.
This isn't easy! We know. It's difficult and can feel a little bit intimidating at first but with practice you will improve.
Feel free to reach out to us on @feelmoapp on Instagram if you have any questions or comments that you want to share with us.
Thank you Helena Lopes for the cover photo.