Harvesting Happiness: The Art of the Fine Whine

  • By Lisa Cypers Kamen.

    There are essentially two different kinds of people in the world: the ones that express their feelings, letting out everything that bothers them, whether it be to a diary, a friend, or even a random passerby, and those that bury their feelings deep within.

    The question is, what is the consequence of hiding or suppressing your emotions? What are the consequences of unfettered self-expression? when it comes to being happy, who ends up on top: the silent sufferer or the vocal whiner?

    For Freud, the answer was clear: he believed emotional inhibition caused psychological illness, which is why he designed his “talk therapy.” In talk therapy, patients whose expression had been seriously curtailed (and therefore were experiencing a “strangulated affect”) were essentially liberated through, well, talking.

    In a famous study on emotional suppression conducted by Dr. Daniel Wegner, Ph.D., Dr. Wagner found that due to a rebounding effect, trying to suppress your emotions causes you to think about them even more!

    Another problem with suppressing your emotions or hiding your feelings is that you can only do it for so long. At some point or another, we all reach or breaking point. Have you seen the movie, Father of the Bride, in which Steve Martin famously goes bananas over hotdogs and hotdog buns in a supermarket? (Check out a clip on YouTube.) I have a feeling it wasn’t the hotdogs and buns he was actually upset about.

    On the other hand, unfettered expression can have its downside as well. You may run the risk of oversharing, which occurs when you share your emotions with the wrong people or in the wrong context. Let’s say you had a terrible fight with your mother. The hairdresser you share with your mother may not be the right person for you to express the intimate details of that fight with. Or, let’s say you are experiencing high levels of stress at work. A first date may not be the right time to express that either.

    Finding the perfect balance between expressing your feelings and not oversharing is what I like to call, “the Art of the Fine Whine.” Before you express your feelings to another person, see if you can express them in writing to yourself, or in the form of a physical release. Then, decide who the right person would be for you to communicate your feelings to. Oftentimes, if another person is the cause of your negative feelings, then he or she might be the right person for you to go to and seek out a resolution.

    Not only will you feel better, a healthy, honest, communication exchange will likely bring you closer and prevent the same problem from occurring in the future. Through the Art of the Fine Whine, you will free yourself from the consequences of suppressed emotions and become a happier, more liberated version of yourself.

    Happiness is an inside job. ®

    Happiness Strategy:

    Shake up your usual workout routine by taking a yoga class. While you are there, pay attention to the people around you. It’s possible that you’ll notice someone spontaneously start crying. Chances are, your yoga neighbor won’t be crying from pain: he or she is crying because of an emotional release. Unexpressed emotions oftentimes find their way into our muscles, particularly in the hips, shoulders, chest, and throat. These areas get stretched and realigned during yoga, which is a great way to release some emotions without even having to say a word.

    Lisa Cypers Kamen

    Lisa Cypers Kamen is a filmmaker, positive psychology coach, author, host of Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio, professor and lecturer specializing in the field of sustainable happiness. She is widely recognized as an expert on the subject. Lisa’s acclaimed documentary film co-produced with her now fifteen year-old daughter, Kayla, “H-Factor…Where is your heart?” explores how people in varied circumstances find, generate and share happiness. In addition to her film on happiness, Lisa has also published a number of articles and books entitled, Got Happiness Now?, Are We Happy Yet?, Leadership: Helping Others to Succeed and Reintegration Strategies, about combat trauma and using positive psychology principles to create wellness in a post-war new normal. Lisa’s written work is featured on blogs for the Huffington Post, PositivelyPositive.com and InspireMeToday.com and she is a TEDx community event speaker. In addition, she is the Happiness Expert for the Florida Department of Citrus/ Florida Orange Juice in its Take on the Day campaign. Harvesting Happiness for Heroes™ is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that delivers stigma-free integrated combat trauma recovery services to warriors and their loved ones. Modalities include scientifically proven strengths based Positive Psychology coaching and interdisciplinary tools such as film, yoga, meditation, art and creative writing designed to mindfully empower the client to achieve increased self-mastery, self-esteem and reclaim her/his life. HH4Heroes focuses on the balance of mind, body and emotion resulting in greater overall wellbeing and the transformation of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) into Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG). HH4Heroes offers retreat workshops, one-on-one coaching, Battle Buddy programs, as well as our new R.E.B.O.O.T Online virtual community coaching classrooms designed to reach underserved areas. In addition, HH4Heroes deploys Return to Duty™ civilian and corporate training to help welcome a warrior home and into the community and workplace. Lisa is committed to teaching Happiness is an inside job™ and helping others end their needless suffering through intentionally cultivating greater joy.

    For more information, please visit HH4Heroes.orgHarvestingHappiness.com, and HarvestingHappinessTalkRadio.com.

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    1. B. Lynn Goodwin
      B. Lynn Goodwin says:

      Good post. Of course you should let those feelings out. Embarrassed, unsure? Grab a notebook and a pen or open a new document. I have two new sentence starts for you to try:

      1. In the last 24 hours…
      2. In the next 24 hours…

      Or write about anything you see, smell, hear, or feel in the room. Write whatever comes into your head and see where it takes you. I’d love to hear the results, and I imagine Lisa would too.


      Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers


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