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What if you could create more positive emotional experiences and improve your emotional well-being?

Improving your emotional well-being is not about stopping or avoiding uncomfortable emotional experiences. Emotions are an ordinary and necessary part of life – both emotions we like as well as those that are uncomfortable. Emotional well-being includes self-awareness, emotion regulation, and recovery for optimal functioning. Increasing emotional well-being is entirely possible. Emotional well-being skills can be built at any point in time.

Here are some ways to have more emotional well-being:

1. Grow your emotional awareness

Emotional awareness increases when you engage in self-reflection—

  • What am I feeling?
  • Why do I feel this way?
  • What will help me stop feeling uncomfortable?

You may engage in behaviors that hurt your emotional well-being when you are unaware of your emotions. But, when you pay more attention to your emotions, you learn which situations, people, or thoughts affect your emotions – positive or negative. You can use your emotional awareness to take action and help you have more enjoyable emotional experiences.

2. Engage in mindful acceptance

Mindfulness includes emotional awareness and it also includes self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is when you experience emotions without judging and accept them as part of yourself. Self-acceptance helps prevent secondary negative emotions. Here’s an example: guilt is a secondary emotion when you feel guilty about feeling angry. Acceptance of all emotions (positive or negative) helps prevent adding extra negative emotions into the mix. When you practice non-judgmental self-acceptance, you let your emotions come and go without labeling them as good or bad. You allow yourself to be present and emotions flow, enhancing emotional well-being. One way to develop this skill is by practicing mindfulness meditation.

3. Shift your focus

Shifting your focus or re-directing your attention from uncomfortable feelings you’re currently experiencing to the broader impact or “big picture” can help. If you focus on a disappointing situation, you might shift your attention to the other things that are going well in life. Most of us have many things we feel good about and want less of. Looking at the big picture is easier said than done, but research shows that training ourselves to focus on neutral events or situations instead of threatening events can reduce anxiety. Reducing anxiety is a critical factor in emotional well-being.

4. Reframe your experience

Reframing is an emotion regulation strategy where you interpret a stressful situation from a different and often more positive perspective. As a result, you understand that there is more than one point of view. This can help you prevent getting stuck in one emotion and instead boost overall emotional well-being. You can practice reevaluating situations by listing things that are good as a positive –

  • How is this an opportunity to grow?
  • What can I learn?
  • What are the good parts of this situation?

Reframing is a skill, so the more you practice, the easier it becomes.

5. Get some emotional space

Emotional distancing is taking on an observer perspective of yourself. It’s like being a “fly on the wall” as you experience an emotion. Another option is to try future pacing. Imagine being a day, month, or year from now, and as you look back on your current situation, what do you predict your perspective will be? For example, after an argument with your partner, think about how you’ll feel about this fight in a week, month, or year. By using emotional distancing, you usually don’t have as many negative judgments about it and can recover from negative experiences more efficiently. Recovery from negative experiences is another important factor in emotional well-being.

6. Imagine/visualize the good things

When you imagine positive events, your brain produces similar signals as if you were experiencing those things in real life. This is why positive imagination and visualization can be a powerful tool for emotional well-being. When you’re going through a tough time, you might not have a lot of positive things to focus on. But when you use your imagination, you help your brain experience positive emotions. So, imagine yourself in a good place and generate more positive emotions.

7. Share positive moments

When you share your positive moments, you help them grow, expand, and last longer. When something good happens, show, tell, or share your experience with someone you care about since it supports your emotional well-being. For example, you could text a friend or call them on the phone. Just be careful not to ‘humble brag.’ For example, if you got a promotion, you could say, I’m feeling so great today about my career. I’d love to celebrate by taking you out to dinner. The people who love you in your life will want to celebrate with you!

In sum

Emotional well-being is the foundation for a life well-lived. It helps you to manage challenging situations while remaining present. Life gets easier when you know that you have the skills to care for yourself no matter what happens. Practice these seven well-being skills and you’ll create a solid foundation for your life.