Happiness – 10 Quick Fixes From Emotional Distress to Your Happy Centered Place

Do you feel shock, panic, anger, anxiety and frustration from recent lay-offs, firings or re-orgs?

Are you stressed and overwhelmed from too much work?

Are you feeling isolated and lonely from lack of family or friends?

Are you experiencing boredom, apathy and listlessness from lack of purpose?

Do you feel trapped and helpless from financial debt, toxic relationships or health issues?

Are you feeling confused, guilty and conflicted from a cultural identity crisis?

Are you feeling a sense of grief, sadness and depression from a separation, divorce or death of a loved one?

Would you like to get some instant relief from your emotional distress and get to your happy, centered place quickly?

The quick fixes outlined below are what I use to provide me with relief when the emotional pain is so intense it prevents me from thinking clearly. I am always able to return to my happy centered place quickly. Just by releasing the negative emotions, it clears my mind. This allows my creativity to kick in and I would find the solution to the problem or the solution will present itself. Just by the simple fact of changing my actions, it changes my energy and as a result, I attracted a different outcome and it has always been for the better. This often leads to a chain reaction of good things – directing me down a path I would never have thought of exploring. This has happened so many times that when I run into obstacles now, there is always a little part of me that goes “Ooh, I wonder what great adventure is around the corner?”.

So, the first thing you need to do to overcome your obstacle is to release all these negative emotions and find your happy centered place. Even though you may not feel like doing any of these quick-fixes, you need to override those feelings and force yourself to take action. It’s only in taking action that you can change your results. Apply “MYA” – Move Your Ass. There were times I did not feel like getting out of the house or even out of bed – but by using any of the quick-fixes on myself; I will always feel a thousand times better.

Although the quick-fixes below are based around my passions and interests – you will apply these general ideas around your own passions and interests and develop your own 10 quick-fixes to help you find your happy centered place quickly. If you do not have any passions or interests, then by trying these quick-fixes, you will find your own passions or interest. Do not limit yourself to what is just on my list, brain-storm and come up with your own ideas. Please use the worksheet at the end (Appendix A) to write your own Quick-fixes.

Start now – 10 Quick-fixes

These are not in any order – you can do any combinations of these several times a day or at minimum, once a day. Continue this everyday and vary the activities so that it does not become a routine and you won’t get bored.

1. Playing good music loudly

• This just makes me want to freestyle dance, always brings a smile to my face and leaves me feeling carefree and light. Disco and Abba is great for me. Also samba. Anything with a great African based rhythm. I stay away from death metal – that gives me a headache. I also like classical music – it’s peaceful and lyrical and puts me in a calm, serene state.

• Choose songs that immediately make you smile, move or calms you down. Pandora.com is a free radio station on the internet – enter one of your favorite songs and it will find you songs of a similar type. Make several compilations: happy dance songs, peaceful calming songs etc.

• If music is not your thing, move on to the next action.

2. Do your favorite exercises that make you sweat and your heart pumping for at least 20 mins to 1 hr. The important part is the sweating and the heart pumping. The natural endorphins your body releases will make you feel better. If you have a friend who is positive, exercise with them but don’t discuss the problem. You just need to release the negative energy. I recommend doing these at least 2-3 times per week. I exercise daily.

• I go out dancing – salsa, hustle, ballroom, argentine tango, swing, freestyle, hip-hop, samba, belly-dancing. I always feel happy, excited and centered after dancing hard. The more stressed I am, the later I stay out dancing. In my corporate years, I would dance every night until 2-4am. I may be tired the next day, but I find I am in a better mood and when handling conflict, it brings about a better result when I am not emotionally attached to the problem. The other side benefits are that dancing has kept me healthy and fit and my dance technique has improved from all that practice. Now, I am a ballroom dance coach.

• Other examples – horse-back riding, wind-surfing, surfing, running, walking briskly, cycling, kick-boxing, spinning, skiing, snow-boarding, aerobics, swimming, racquetball, water-polo, swimming etc.

• If you do not have exercise in your life, you need to get started now. Not only will it help you with your current situation, the long term benefits to your health and mental well-being is enormous. If you continue to exercise regularly at least 2-3 times per week, this will help you in your path to enduring happiness and health.

3. Take a class in your area of passion or interest – learning will take your mind temporarily away from your problems, and get you out of your routine.

• I love to learn so it puts me in a good mood. It has also solved many of my problems. I take business, marketing, sales, leadership, personal development, dance or art lessons. In the past, I’ve taken golfing, skiing, drumming, piano, surfing, wind-surfing, framing, yoga, pilates lessons. If you are on limited funds, there are plenty of free webinars/teleconferences on the internet. The other alternative is to learn from a book, CD or DVD which you can borrow from your local library. My personal library is filled with books on leadership, business, marketing, sales, success, personal development, framing, art, dance and biographies of interesting people.

• I signed up for Ballroom teacher training to help reduce the friction between my boyfriend and me when I was teaching him ballroom. My teachers hired me to teach their beginner Ballroom classes after my first semester and I graduated top of my class 16 months later. Now, I transform lives through coaching, ballroom dancing and art!

• If you have insecurities about learning, don’t do this yet. Build up your confidence first.

4. Teach someone else your expertise/passion/interest

• I cannot tell you the number of times my students have literally fallen through my door with gasps of “You cannot believe the day/week/month I’ve had” and left relaxed with a smile on their faces after 2 hours of painting. Or they leave rejuvenated and ready to conquer the world after one my of group or private dance lessons. In the case of first time beginners, the joy I see on their faces and the light in their eyes when they discover they can do something that they never thought they could. It is transformational for them. Or when clients call up overwhelmed and distraught and I am able to get them calm, happy, optimistic and armed with an action plan. Even when I’m having a rough day, helping my students and clients and receiving these positive emotions back always lifts me up and energizes me.

• Even if you do not think you can teach, you should give it a try. I used to be afraid to ask questions in class and could not speak publicly until the age of 20. I suggest starting in a 1:1 situation if this is new to you. You can start with a family member or friend. Someone who is supportive and cares about you and needs your help. Then you can work your way to smaller groups. Who knows, this may lead to your next career. Working in the computer industry and in startups forced me speak regularly to large and small groups of people all over Asia Pacific, Europe and US. My art and dance technique has improved tremendously through teaching. Worst case, you are just going to get better in your area of expertise/passion/interest.

5. Read an inspirational book, an inspirational blog or watch an inspirational movie or biography show on TV.

• I like reading autobiographies and biographies of real people and how they have risen above their circumstances or adversities. Some people find this depressing, I find it motivational. It’s like – “Well, if they can get over this, so can I”. Some of my favorite books are:

“Wild Swans: The three daughters of China” by Jung Chang,

“Such a long journey” by Rohinton Mistry,

“Stolen Lives” by Malika Oufkir and Michele Fitoussi,

“Daughter of Destiny – an autobiography” by Benazir Bhutto,

“The autobiography of Quincy Jones” by Quincy Jones,

“Jack: Straight from the Gut” by Jack Welch and John A Byrne

“The Power of One” by Bryce Courtenay – don’t see the movie, read the book. Even though it’s fiction, I really identified with the lonely little boy. And so many other books I could not bring with me as I’ve moved around so much.

• I loved the movie “Seabiscuit”… I am “Seabiscuit” – I didn’t fit in, was once a cripple, do not look like everyone else and was expected to fail. The biography movies and shows on TV profiling successful business people, musicians, artists, athletes and world leaders have been eye-opening and inspiring – Warren Buffet, Oprah, Bill Gates, Sting, Jon Bon Jovi, Shania Twain, Jim Carrey, Christina Aguilera, Gandhi, Malcolm X, Ray Charles, Mohammed Ali, Tina Turner, Olga Korbut, Oksana Baiul etc.

• I bought “The Millionaire Maker” book by Loral Langemeier to help solve my boyfriend’s problem; I ended up reading the book and signing up for their coaching services. My coaches recognized my vast personal experience in the arena of life transformations, my skills in teaching others and led me to my life purpose as a coach!

• Your local library is a great free resource for books and some movies. Netflix.com is great for easy convenient access to movies. I buy my books from Amazon.com – there is a used section if you have limited funds.

6. Call up or visit a friend

• Friends who have more problems than you – make him/her feel better.

I have a few friends in this category – I don’t tell them about what I’m going through. I just focus on them, make them laugh or tell them what a great mother/father/son/daughter/grandparent they are and how if they were my parents or siblings or grandparents, I would be so lucky. Then I proceed to tell them about how they are special. If they are in the midst of a crisis, I see what I can do to help. It’s surprising how quickly you can gain perspective on your problems when someone else you care about is facing life or death situations.

• Friends who are wise happy souls who can put things in perspective.

My friends, students, staff, clients confide in me when they are having problems – I’m their wise happy soul. It makes me feel good and adds to my happiness when I’m able to bring a smile to their face or provide some relief for their emotional pain. I usually ask them in the big scheme of things, if they were to die tomorrow, how important is this pain/adversity compared to all the wonderful things they have going on in their lives?

I have one close friend who I call when I’m in the middle of a relationship crisis and she can reflect back and summarize my jumbled thoughts into something cohesive which I can take action on.

As I have always helped others, I didn’t get a lot of help myself until I signed up for my first coaching program which has been life changing.

• Avoid calling friends who will just keep you in that negative loop. They enjoy hearing your tales of misery and have more tales of misery for you to confirm how much your life sucks. And even more evidence that the world is a cruel place so you may as well just slit your throat and end it now. Ok I’m exaggerating but you know what I’m talking about. These people do not offer solutions – they just like to wallow in doom and gloom.

• If you do not have friends, this will need to be in your long term strategy for happiness and prosperity. You can volunteer at non-profits to help others less fortunate and hire a coach as your wise happy friend.

7. Go to a peaceful place – do this in your mind or in reality

• I’m not good at meditating but this technique works for me. I am lucky to live in a peaceful place so I can just sit in my yard, look at the canyons and do these breathing exercises – I drop my head down to my chest and I breathe in deeply and when exhaling, I am imagining that I am pushing out the negative emotions that are causing the clutching in my chest or that knot in my stomach. I keep doing this until the intense feelings are reduced. Then I replace it with thoughts of good things like how lucky I am to have a home, to have my health, to have good people in my life, to have a sound mind etc. This is an adaptation of Larry Crane’s release technique. I discovered this in my 40s and it really made a difference. I got rid of a growth by doing this – when I went in for the procedure, the ob-gyn looked at me in shock and said it was gone! There were many other obstacles that just worked themselves out when I concentrated on releasing the negative emotions around those problems. For example: I hate driving and used to drive up to 3-5 hours round-trip at times for business. By releasing on these emotions, through an amazing series of events, the studio owner of a local ballroom studio offered me a teaching position at his studio, just 13 minutes from my home (this is close for Los Angeles area).

I do a modified breathing exercise with my art students – they really like it as it immediately disengages their mind from their problems and relaxes them. Some of my students have to battle Los Angeles traffic (always horrendous) to get to my art classes so they arrive rather stressed and rattled. I first start by getting them to take a deep breath – most of them jump up from their chairs at this point and stretch their arms up in the air while they are breathing in. Then when they breathe out, I encourage them to shake, rotate or stretch out their tense muscles, usually in their heads, necks, shoulders, arms, etc. Then we take another deep breath and when breathing out, I instruct them to push out the negative thoughts and anxieties that are inside their heads, or the clutching in their chest or stomach. Then on the final deep breath, I thank them for being there with me, I remind them how they are all beautiful people and how lucky we are to be painting with each other.

• Drive out to the ocean and listen to the surf – that always centers me, brings a feeling of calmness and makes me feel strong and powerful again. When my relationship was falling apart, when my uncle passed away, when I was burned out – just a few hours by the ocean got me going again.

• Go for a walk in nature. Try to get away from cars, technology and people. I find that very healing.

• If you have funds, get a massage. If only the leaders of the world would regularly get good massages. Perhaps there will be less fighting and more love. I only discovered this when I was in my late 30s – boy did that help me with my stress.

• If you love animals, getting a pet can help you. Just stroking your cat or dog is very calming and peaceful.

8. Create something

• I usually paint – I get out my watercolors and start playing around with the colors. After a while, some inspiration will come and this process of creation always makes me feel better.

• Or I cook – it’s even better when I can cook and feed someone else. The sounds of someone appreciating my cooking always make me smile. Don’t do this if you have weight issues – you will just get more depressed.

• When I injured my knee and could not walk upstairs, I started sewing as that activity involved sitting in one place or cutting from the floor. I taught myself how to sew and made ball-gowns to hide my bent leg when I was dancing. Yes, I still went dancing even though I spent most of the time sitting down. It distracted me from my painful knee and now I have 10+ new outfits to wear dancing!

• Start a journal – write down 3 good things that happened to you today. Do this every day. It can be as simple as a friend calling you on the phone. Or the sun coming out. Those are good things. Or write down everything you are feeling every day. It does not have to make sense, just dump it out. Who knows, this may lead to your next career – writing. That’s how I started writing. I have lots of little unfinished stories scattered around in my computer and in several journals. All produced during times of great stress, anxiety, grief or shock.

• If you have never done anything creative before but have a general interest, go with that. If you do not know how to get started, buy a how-to book or signup for a class in wood carving, pottery, art, glass-blowing, cooking, writing, piano, violin, bass, dance etc. That’s how I got started in painting – I woke up one day with this strong compulsion to paint with the Chinese brush in 2001. I went on the internet and found a Chinese brush painting class in San Francisco and on that Saturday painted for the first time. Boy did that change my life forever!

9. Express love and gratitude to your loved ones. If you have a spouse, children, family or friends who love you – reach out to them and tell them how much you love them and how much they mean to you. Give them a hug or a kiss.

• I don’t have family but I write emails to my close friends at odd times. It’s usually too late to call. I will tell them I’m thinking of them and hope they are doing well. I thank them for their friendship, and tell them how special they are. When you tell people they are special, it means more to them if you spell out what it is they are good at or identify a specific event which highlights their talents eg: great listeners, patient, creative problem solvers, great sense of humor etc.

• I tell my boyfriend all the time how much I love him, what his specials talents are. I reach out and ask for a hug when I need it. That always makes me feel better.

10. Take a trip to somewhere completely opposite to what you are going through – if you were burned by people, then go to a third world country like Brazil or Cuba where there are still happy people who care about each other even though they are really poor. If you are coming out of a completely frazzled situation – go somewhere remote and peaceful without a lot of people – the more unknown the better.

• When I left Oracle for a startup which went bankrupt 6 months later, those 6 months were so intense it left me drained, numb and tired of bad people.

Instead of doing what I would normally do in that situation – update my resume and job search, I flew out to Cancun, met with a dance friend and exploring pyramids, wells, caves and beautiful beaches. We found a little place in Tulum, 2 hours south of Cancun and stayed in a little hut on the beach. There was no electricity; the floor of the hut was sand. It cost almost nothing. That was on of the most rejuvenating times for me. We then flew to Miami for the largest Salsa festival in the US – Calle Ocho and danced our butt off for 1 week with 2 other dance friends. I came back to San Francisco with a tan, lost about 10 pounds, a smile on my face and found a voice-mail from the President of a new startup inviting me in for an interview. He hired me on the spot as Director of Marketing. How cool was that!

• There was a time when I was really burned out from dealing with unethical people and people who took advantage of my kind helpful nature. I began to lose my faith in the human race. I found myself in a deep depression, not wanting to eat, not able to sleep, not wanting to interact with anyone. I signed up for a dance program to Cuba and the 2 weeks there was life changing. Cuba was just coming out of their famine and the people there were so poor – food was hard to come by, even if you had money, there was nothing to buy in the stores. But I have never happier people in my life. They were filled with joy, laughter and love. Their abundance spilled out to all of us -foreigners – all broken in our many ways. What was clear to me then was because there was no money or material things to buy, their time was not spent in pursuit of money. Their time was spent with each other, laughing, singing, dancing, talking, hugging, playing music or doing other things together. There are no lonely people in Cuba. When I was with our group of local Cuban dancers, if I wandered off on my own, they would always call out, “Come walk with us, don’t walk alone”. Their children are their national treasure – children can wander everywhere and they are held, loved, taken care of and fed by their neighbors and total strangers. Someone will always bring the kids home to their parents at the end of the day. How amazing is that?

• Other places I’ve been to which are great for recovering your spirits – Koh Chang in Thailand, Pulau Langkawi or Pulau Tioman in Malaysia, Morro de Sao Paolo in Brazil. These places are all inexpensive, remote and peaceful. I had an ocean-front beach hut for $9/night in Thailand and daily massages for $10/hr. I stay away from the hectic expensive resorts. I only went to hectic expensive resorts when it was funded by my work. When I’m funding it, then it could also be expensive resorts but peaceful ones – like the Kea Lani in Maui and the Grand Wailea in Maui (only for the incredible spa – the rest of the resort is too chaotic).

Not all of these are long term strategies for enduring happiness but they will help get you out of your state of shock, despair, numbness, depression, paralysis, anxiety or frustration etc. The release of the negative emotions that are tying you up in knots will allow your objectivity and creativity to kick in. Often, the obstacle/adversity is not going to be as insurmountable as it first appears and the solution will present itself once your head is clear. Just by the simple fact of taking some action, you be changing your results… you are no longer beating up on yourself or repeated asking your mind for a solution when it clearly does not have enough information to make a decision. Changing your actions, bypasses your current negative thoughts and feelings and that changes the result. The change in your energy will allow you to attract a different result. And often one good thing will lead to another to another.

Appendix A: Your “10 Quick-fixes to Happiness and Prosperity”

Use this worksheet to develop your own “10 Quick-fixes”. Develop them around your own interests and passions. If you do not have any passions or interests, then by trying the quick-fixes, you will find your own passions or interest. Do not limit yourself to what is just on my list, brain-storm and come up with your own ideas. Send them to me and I will compile them into a “Best of Quick-fixes”.

Do any combinations of these several times a day or at minimum, once a day. Continue this everyday, vary the activities so that it does not get boring.
1. Play good music loudly Start date:_________
Write down the songs that make you smile and dance or make you feel calm and peaceful. Make a compilation. Use Pandora.com to find more similar songs
2. Exercise 30 mins – 1 hr, sweat-heart pumping! Start date:_________
Name your exercise(s): _____________________________________________
3. Take a Class around your interest or passion Start date:_________
List your interest/passion(s): ________________________________________
4. Teach someone your expertise/passion/interest Start date: ____________
What can you teach? ______________________________________________
Who will you teach this to? _________________________________________
5. Read inspirational books/ blogs/movies Start date: ____________

6. Call up a friend – Start date: ____________
Name of friend(s) who has more problems than you _____________________
Name of friend(s) who is a wise happy soul _____________________________
7. Go to a peaceful place Start date: ____________
8. Create something Start date: ____________
What have you created in the past, go as far back as when you were a kid that always put a smile on your face or peace in your soul? What are the 10 things in your life you are grateful for?
9. Express love and gratitude to your loved ones Start date: ____________
List their special qualities: ___________________________________________
10. Take a trip Start date: ____________
I use my credit card for my purchases to accumulate frequent flyer miles so I can take a trip anywhere. Make sure you pay the full amount off every month!

Nicole Thomas

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