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30 Days to a Happier Life

4. I know that my emotions, including the negative ones, are there as a guide — and that I can replace them with more positive ones.

Fear walks hand-in-hand with change, and ignoring it won't make it go away — in fact, quite the opposite: "Not admitting that your fear is there, trying to deny it, is the most debilitating thing you can do," explains de Bonvoisin. Negative emotions such as fear, guilt, and impatience force you to use what she refers to as your change GPS. "Those emotions are there to get your attention and direct you to more positive ones."

When I look more closely at my fears of sending my baby to kindergarten, for example, I can see that the one I'm really worried about isn't her; it's me, being alone all day. So I'm trying to replace that anxiety with positive thoughts: I'll finally enjoy some sense of freedom; I'll be so proud of her independence; I'll truly savor the bittersweet emotions of letting go — knowing those pangs come from my deep bond with my daughter.

5. I know that the more quickly I accept or choose change, the less the pain and hardship will be.

Two years ago, my new digital camera — a birthday gift — sat in the box for months; I couldn't bear to part with my trusty old 35 mm, and just looking at the new camera made me feel anxious and incompetent.

Silly? Maybe, but sometimes we make even minor changes painful by hanging on desperately to the past, says de Bonvoisin. "Life is like a long river, and we're all in a boat floating downstream," she says. "We can cling to a rock and refuse to keep going. We can furiously row upstream, trying to get back to someplace we can never reach — or we can let go of the oars and realize that we are being carried toward everything we want." Think of it this way: Does not accepting a change make it go away? Does fighting the current help? Once you let go of the oars, your life will get back on track. (And usually — like me finally snapping away with my swell new camera — you end up wondering why you clung to the rock for so long.)

6. I use empowering questions and words, I think better thoughts, and I allow my feelings to come up.

Kionna Coleman, a 30-year-old single mom, moved from New York City back home to Raleigh, NC, after a breakup with her boyfriend, only to be hit with her dad's sudden death from a heart attack a few months later. During this time, she remembers using many negative words and phrases. "I used to wake up every day and say, 'I can't catch a break,' or 'I hate my life,'" she recalls. Even though Kionna had way more than her fair share of heartache in a year, she realized that the downbeat talk wasn't helping. "Those negative thoughts were sucking whatever energy I had left because I was starting to believe them," she says.

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