21/01/2014 08:38 GMT | Updated 23/03/2014 05:59 GMT

Train Your Brain for Emotional Fitness

Have you noticed how some people emotionally bounce back from a setback, whilst others seem to wallow in a mud bath of doom?

It's all down to how emotional fit you are. Like with physical fitness which rates how fit your body is by your hearts recovery time after exercise, emotional fitness is rated on how fast you return to a state of equilibrium or even happiness after a bad situation. You might think that this is simply down to an unchangeable personality, however emotions are formed from the decisions we make about any given situation.

Some people will take a situation and make it mean that they have been weakened by it. Even telling themselves, 'I will never get over this'. People can also feel they live in an unfriendly world; that the traffic jam was somehow deliberately created for them to be late, rather than thinking it could be to slow them down thus avoiding a life threatening accident.

What you make a situation mean good or bad, changes how you emotionally feel about it. There is a story of a Taoist Farmer, who loved his horse. When his horse disappeared his friends felt sorry for his misfortune but the farmer said 'good or bad who knows'. When the horse came back with a wild stallion, his friends thought this was wonderful, but the farmer said 'good or bad who knows'. Then the farmer's son fell whilst training the stallion and broke his leg. 'How awful' said his friends 'good or bad who knows' said the farmer. Then solders came to take the son to war, but the son couldn't go because of the broken leg... you get the picture.

An emotionally fit person has a 'positive spin doctor mind'. Whatever happens, they twist it into a positive perspective. No event really has significance until we give it meaning. It is at this point we get to decide if something positive or negative has happened.

To train your brain to become more emotionally resilient and allow yourself to bounce back in the face of adversity you need adapt to five habits. Your brain will start to follow this more positive patterning on its own accord in no time.

1 - Gratitude. Even for the things you don't like. A mantra you can give yourself is 'Even though right now I don't know how, I know this is turning out for the best and I'm grateful'. You might need to practice through gritted teeth for a while.

2 - Decide if you live in a friendly world. When you see it as unfriendly everything is against you and life is a struggle. When it's friendly, everything is for you even when you can't see it in the moment.

3 - Remember you're simply making it all up as you go along. It's what we do as humans; we narrate the story of our life to give it meaning, who are you, hero or victim? If you have an ageing relative you will often see how the retellings of stories in their life change over time. Make something positive up; you'll never fully remember the truth of it anyway.

4 - Change the perception of 'right and wrong' from a fact to a feeling. Right and wrong is only true from the perception you get to view a situation from. Allow your intuition to guide you.

5 - Forgive yourself and if you can love yourself, and if you can't, forgive yourself for that too.

Finally you can train your brain thus your emotions to be positive about anything for a happier life with less stress, except for loss of a loved one. Grief is a process that can't be white washed over with positivity. It takes time, and the best advice is not to move on, but to move through with gentleness and grace.

Reaching for the positive might seem like a far stretch at first, but over time you find that things that seemed beyond you, you can do, you can be and you can have, because you possess the resilience to do what it takes to get what you want.

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