Welcome! Today Mo reveals how we can all turn negative feelings into a force of joy, plus genius conversation-starters to help you have more meaningful moments.
Article: How to positively channel negative emotions
By being able to recognise and address emotions that make you feel bad, you can turn them into a moment of joy. From today, experiment with these solutions when the going gets tough.
Finding joy in the world is not about never experiencing a negative emotion. That is impossible. ‘”Along with all the good emotions, you have to embrace the negative emotions fully,” explains Mo Gawdat, Rituals’ ambassador. Here’s how you do that without them taking over completely.
Feel the feeling
“You have to start by acknowledging how you feel. This is not an attempt to solve the problem but to try and understand it. Ask yourself why you have become angry or agitated. The simple act of trying to trace the emotion to the thought gives you the break you need in order to cool down,” says Mo.
““Presencing” is a great skill to use in tense moments. It’s about becoming aware of what is going on and focusing on one thing required of you there and then,” explains psychologist Jess Baker. “Imagine you’re doing the school run, your kids are driving you crazy, you’re stuck in traffic, you’re late and you feel all the negatives emotions rising. Let everything fade into the background and focus on one thing. For example, how does the steering wheel feel in your hand? Then think about the fact that the only thing required of you right that second is to drive safely. Presencing allows you to move forward and achieve what you need to achieve without letting the negative emotions escalate even more.”
Negativity gets you nowhere
“When you’re in a bad moment you have to remember that negativity doesn’t get you anywhere,” advises Mo. ‘”In fact, negativity can upset or hurt someone you care about. Whereas positivity will always move you forward. By thinking like that, you’ll get to a point when you’re in a negative situation and you’ll ask yourself ‘why am I doing this to myself?”
Go back to your gratitude journal
If dark thoughts are threatening to derail you, reach for your gratitude journal, your happy list, a stash of photos that make you smile - whatever you use to find the positives in your life. “It’s a great way of short-circuiting the stream of negativity in your brain and filling the vacuum with a positive outlook.”
Ask positive questions
“Make a list of generic questions you can ask yourself in a challenging moment, that prime you for a positive reaction. For example, ‘what is good about this situation?’ or ‘what do I like about it?’. By training your brain to find the positive, and making that the focus of your thoughts, you’ll become a master at being able finding the good side of things.”
Draw upon examples of real-life people who have managed to turn negativity into a global force of positivity. And whilst you might not be looking to magnify positivity on a worldwide scale, the essence of what they did is relevant to us all: when bad things happen, we have a choice to either let it bring us down or we can choose to channel our emotions to move forward with positivity and joy.
1. Mahatma Ghandi
“A man who is swayed by negative emotions may have good enough intentions, may be truthful in word, but he will never find the truth.”
Lawyer, politician and social activist, Ghandi lead the nationalist movement against the British rule of India and sought to bring more rights to the poor people of India. He was imprisoned many times but always believed in nonviolent protest and pacifism, which helped him eventually achieve the end of British rule in India and inspired movements across the globe to use peace and non-violence for the better.
2. Nelson Mandela
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
Lawyer and politician, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years for leading the movement to end South African apartheid. He has famously talked about how he couldn’t let negative emotions consume him when he was held captive but had to focus on the good he knew he could do. His leadership led to the end of apartheid and equality.
3. Malala Yousafazi
“Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”
Malala was shot in the head by Taliban militants on her way home from school. Even with a death threat against her, she has gone on to speak out about girl’s right for an education across the globe making her the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace prize, the subject of an Oscar nominated documentary and renowned author.
TASK: The ‘Authentic ask and answer’ trick to Make meaningful connections
Make a commitment to yourself that from today, you’ll be more mindful about how you approach casual conversations. Use our ‘authentic ask and answer’ technique, and you’ll create space for more meaningful exchanges, truly connecting with everyone you meet.
Instead of asking ‘How are you?’…
Open up the conversation
“Offer something that can ignite a two-way conversation and avoids a simple yes or no answer,” advises psychologist, Jess Baker. “What have you been up to today?" is a great opening question that is specific but not too intrusive.’
Make it personal
“To connect with a stranger for the first time, bring in something that’s specific to them,” suggests Rituals happiness ambassador, Mo Gawdat. For example: ‘Hi, I love your tattoo. What does it mean? “The question shows you care about them as an individual and you want to go beyond the standard mechanical greetings.”
Use past experience
'If you’re speaking to someone you know, think of something they mentioned in your last conversation and use that as your starting point. For example, if a family member wasn’t well - ask if they are better,’ suggests Mo.
Instead of answering with ‘I’m fine’…
Bounce it back
“You may not feel like immediately responding with all your personal worries,” says Jess, “so try replying with another question. It might sound strange, but even if it’s the same question they asked you, it will allow an authentic conversation to start.” Saying something like “well I’ve been wondering the same about you – what’s your week been like?” in response to a friend’s ‘how you are you?’ shows you want to engage in a meaningful way while giving you time to warm up.
Rate your happiness
“I have three responses that give the person I’m speaking to an indication of how I feel,” says Mo Gawdat. “One: It’s been a little tough recently, two: I’m ok and three: I’ve rarely been better.”
How do you really feel?
Say it how it is. “By providing some detail around how you feel and saying it out loud - for example saying you’ve been worried about something at work or in your relationship - helps on so many levels. Firstly, if you find it hard to open up, giving the person just a snippet of information shows them you’re allowing them to delve deeper with you and hopefully gives you the confidence to reveal more of your feelings. Secondly, it strengthens the connection you have with that person which will then give them the confidence to turn to you when they need someone to talk to. And finally, by allowing yourself to say out loud what you’re worried about gives you an opportunity to reflect on how you truly feel too,” says Mo.
Click here and find out how identifying your masculine and feminine traits could bring more joy, plus try a calming meditation.