stuck in traffic

Choosing your mood is just as important to your health as exercise. In fact, there is research that proves a direct correlation between your mood and illness. Happiness is a choice just as much as negativity is a choice. That is not to say bad things do not happen to us – of course they do. However, after the initial emotional response to the situation (sadness, anger, hurt, etc.), we then have the opportunity to choose what comes next.

Having found my career as a Pilates instructor as a result from chronic back pain, this idea really hits home for me. For years I was miserable because I was in so much pain. I was frequently sidelined from enjoyable activities and found my self constantly feeling sick. My initial injury had long since passed, but the lingering physical effects were still there. I hadn’t learned yet that our emotions are directly tied to how we feel physically so if I had just ‘flipped my script’ I might have had an easier time.

Even though there are times you may want to linger in Bummerville, make an effort to shake the blues by sitting in a quiet place and saying to yourself: ‘I choose happiness’ or I choose joy’ or whatever other word you use to describe feeling good. See if just doing that doesn’t improve your mood a little. It might take a minute or a hundred minutes but this is the one instance where repetitive action is beneficial. One place this technique might be especially helpful is in Los Angeles, when you are stuck in traffic. Turn off the music (but don’t close your eyes!) and say your mantra out loud, or switch to a station that plays soothing classical music and repeat the phrase silently to yourself. The more you do it the more it will become your default to do so, and the more that mood will become your default.

When we are in a better ‘mood’ or ‘place’ we tend to want to take better care of ourselves. We exercise more, we get outside more, and we socialize more. And the more we do those things, the healthier we are and the more happiness we cultivate for ourselves, and those around us as we attract happiness. It’s a non-vicious cycle. So honor your emotions, but then turn them around, even when you don’t feel like it. Especially when you don’t feel like it. It won’t be long before you become a magnet for happiness.


Jessica Kuiken is a Los Angeles-based Certified Pilates Instructor. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook

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