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Modern Luxury: What’s Stopping You From Feeling Good?

Little changes can have a huge impact on how you feel. Flexpower has some advice on how to make sure you’re setting yourself up for a good day, every day.

The idea that your whole vibe affects everything around you may seem like a new concept, but that’s only because the terminology has changed. The idea has been around for a long, long time.

For example, there’s an old story that goes like this: A man sits on a bench outside of a small village. A traveler walks by and asks him what kind of people live in the village. The man answers the question with one of his own: “What kind of people have you met on your travels?”

“Terrible people! Dishonest, cruel, mean. It’s been awful.”

“Then I’m sorry to say that you’ll meet the same people here.”

The first traveler turns and walks away. A second traveler comes by and the same exchange takes place. But this time, the traveler responds, “I’ve met the most amazing people! Kind and generous!”

The man smiles, “Then I’m happy to say you’ll meet the same people here.”

The point, of course, is that your vibe, your deal, your attitude affects everything around you. So to jump right into the question posed in the headline: The answer might just be, “You.” But you can make little adjustments and little changes to avoid getting in your own way when it comes to feeling good, every day. And that is, after all, the goal, right?

CHANGE YOUR MIND

As that fable illustrates, the drive to feel good is more than just a personal thing. Feeling your best makes you more likely to lift up those around you, improve your environment, and generally do good. It’s positive energy that extends beyond your own body, and there is some choice involved. So why don’t more of us do it?

“A lot of times people will self-sabotage. We’re all guilty of that,” says Marianna Garibaldi, a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at New York Presbyterian Hospital. “It’s just a part of our human nature.” But Garibaldi believes that we also have the power to get out of our own way, too. “I personally believe that perspective is everything. There is always more than one perspective to a situation so you can change your mindset to see different perspectives then things become a little bit easier to process.”

Like anything else that’s good for you, changing your mindset requires more than just the decision to do it. You need a boost – a little active effort – to make sure you gain enough momentum to really change your mind.

“One of my favorite things to do to help switch that mindset is practicing gratitude,” says Garibaldi. “Just list three things that you are grateful for from your day. That’s all. You can write it in a journal or just go through it in your head while you lay in bed. Shine a light on the little things that go unrecognized. If you shift your mindset to see those small things, they add up. But it takes a little work to do that.”

And the science backs this up. In his book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, author and psychologist Daniel Goleman explains that positive thoughts heighten prefrontal brain activity, which improves creative thinking, cognitive flexibility, and faster processing – in addition to helping us widen our focus from “me” to “we.” In other words: When you feel good, you want others to feel good, too.

TRUST YOUR GUT

We’ve all heard of “emotional eating” and understand it’s a bad habit, but while we’re changing the way people think of pain management and self-care, there’s room to put a different spin on this concept, too. Emotional eating in its original sense refers to eating thoughtlessly and indulgently in an effort to escape from or bury negative feelings. But what if you ate to improve your emotional state, not distract from it?

You can.

In an editorial titled “Nutrition and Psychiatry” for the American Journal of Psychiatry, physician Marlene Freeman wrote, “It is both compelling and daunting to consider that dietary intervention at an individual or population level could reduce rates of psychiatric disorders. There are exciting implications for clinical care, public health, and research.” Around the time this was published in 2010, some of the first real studies were being conducted around the various ways what we eat and drink can affect our mood. Not just by being “comfort food,” but by actually stimulating parts of our brain and soothing our guts in real, tangible, physiological ways that help us feel better.

It’s not a coincidence. Did you know that 90% of the Serotonin your body produces – the hormone that stabilizes your mood and enhances feelings of wellbeing and happiness – comes not from your brain but from your digestive tract? When your stomach feels good, you feel good. It’s really that simple.

This doesn’t mean you’re sentenced to eating handfuls of tree bark for the rest of time – you can still enjoy spice, flavor, and fun while you do it. Add more salmon to your diet, which is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to have a positive impact on cases of depression and anxiety. Fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut – the same good bacteria that helps create Serotonin. Bananas, berries and, yes, even coffee, have been shown to improve gut health and brain functionality.

We’ve always said you have more say over how you feel than you realize. Choosing to feel good is possible, and the results are tangible. Changing your mindset, adding a few new things to your diet, and keeping your body active and moving will do wonders.

So what’s stopping you?

This article originally appeared in the Modern Luxury: Angeleno September 2021 digital edition