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By Lisa Cypers Kamen.

FlowerpotBoxing icon Muhammad Ali, also known to the world as Cassius Clay, “The People’s Champion” or simply, “The Greatest,” has just as much talent for words as he does for boxing.

Ever since the legendary boxer coined the phrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” people worldwide have been using the famous saying to describe anything that brings beauty or art to a battle situation. (Not sure what I mean? Check out footage of Muhammad Ali’s graceful fighting style and you’ll get the picture.)

Here in the 21st Century, war is everywhere. It’s the conflict between coworkers, the clash of politicians on the podium, and the everyday animosity we feel toward people we think are more beautiful or successful than we are. In these complicated times, it’s more important than ever to understand the art of emotional warfare.

The question is, how to control your emotions in a difficult situation and use them to your advantage. Have you ever met someone who manages to maintain his or her grace even during a heated conflict? What about someone who can be empathetic and at the same time firm during an argument? How about someone who is kind even when his or her opponent is throwing low blows left and right? A

ll these people have one thing in common: They understand how to use their emotions to overcome conflicts. A big part of their success is refraining from reactive behavior. When you think and pause before you speak or act, especially in an emotional, heated context, you’re already one step (or several) ahead of your emotional sparring partner.

When Muhammad Ali entered the ring, he violated every boxing rule in the book. He relied on steady footwork and quick jabs to quietly KO major opponents in moves that were too graceful to believe. There are a lot of things to learn from “The Greatest.” You don’t have to live by the unspoken rules of fighting, which tell you to belittle or trip up your opponent any way possible. By bringing sensitivity and sensibility to conflicts like the heavyweight champion did, you’ll stun your opponent – in a good way.

Just as Muhammad Ali was the master of anticipating his opponent’s next move, we should all be more in tune with what the other person is thinking during our conflicts. By being more in touch with our opponent’s feelings and keeping a better grasp on our own emotions, we each can master the art of graceful, modern warfare. Before you know it, Muhammad Ali won’t be the only one floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee.

Happiness is an inside job. ®

Happiness Strategy:

Emotionally intelligent warfare is half awareness, half practice. To prepare yourself mentally for the conflicts in your life, start by repeating this mantra to yourself each morning, noon and night: I will act, not react. The purpose of this mantra is to remember how important it is to think before you act, especially in a heated situation. This practice will allow you to act and live with intention, something that Eastern and Western philosophers alike agree is the key to a fulfilled life.

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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, and 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.

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