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Most people think they don’t have anything to do with how they are feeling. I certainly didn’t. But I have learned through many difficult situations in relationships, career and finances, and even getting shot that I do have something to do with my emotions. After all, they are mine!

I learned that how I feel is mainly up to me, unless I have some chemical or neurological damage. Other than that, how I think causes how I feel.

It’s like a waterfall. My positive thoughts cause positive emotions. My negative thoughts cause negative emotions. How I feel influences how I behave, and how I behave produces results, either effective or ineffective. Who starts this whole waterfall of cause and effect? Just me and my thoughts. So I decided to choose to think more often in ways that cause me to feel good rather than bad, so I can find more behaviors that produce effective results.

I also learned I could feel good about myself, even when I made mistakes. I don’t usually intend to make a mistake. I just do the best I know, and “Oops”, I make a mistake. After the mistake I learn something I didn’t know before; I learn how to do things differently next time so I don’t make that mistake again.

Life could just be moving from mistake to mistake to mistake, each time getting closer and closer to greater success, all the while, feeling good about learning something valuable. That’s a very good thing. Even if the mistake is bad, I can feel good about myself for learning from it.

Many people seem to need a reason to be happy because it seems so normal to be serious. They blame their circumstances, the weather, the traffic and the economy for how they are feeling. They can’t be happy because they have too many excuses for feeling bad.

I learned that I don’t need a reason to feel good. It’s enough that feeling good makes me more effective at learning and at turning my worst circumstances into my greatest opportunities. Or maybe that’s my reason to choose to feel good in the face of overwhelming reasons to feel bad.

So, when you don’t like how you are feeling, think of a bright red stop sign with big white letters and say, “STOP”. Ask yourself if those feelings are helping you be more effective in getting the results you want. If so, great, feel good about yourself. If not, ask yourself what you can learn, and then move on to being more effective and feeling good about yourself.

Oh, and I learned that this is all easier said than done, but I choose to feel good about that!

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Dr. Rob Pennington completed his doctorate at The University of Texas at Austin in educational psychology in 1976. In addition to his career in counseling and executive coaching, Dr. Pennington was a professor at three universities, a four-time recipient of the Mental Health Association’s Outstanding Speaker Award and one of Meeting Professional International’s original Platinum Presenters. Since 1982 he has received the highest trainer evaluations each year from Fortune 100 employees for his trainings, "Successfully Managing the Stress of Change" and "Successful Work Relationships." Dr. Pennington’s intensive academic understanding paired with profound personal experience helps him make complex issues understandable in a delightfully common-sense manner. Dr. Pennington provides insights he has presented in trainings and keynotes worldwide on a range of professional and personal development topics for the first time in book form in Find The Upside of the Down Times. He has four grandchildren ages 4 months to 19 years old.

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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Keep making new mistakes! There are always more chemical imbalances to discover. Equilibrium enables greater subtlety in our response to them.

    My mother was a Pennington and I like to think I am related to Isaac. I am learning about autoimmunity in a myriad of glittering perspectives.

    In the meantime, thank you for a Rob to lean on.

    🙂 Katrina

    1. Katrina

      I agree. Developing the habit of creating balance allows me to be more quickly become aware of when an imbalance occurs – and then to address it faster. That’s what the Speed Through Stress process is all about, i.e., moving from my Automatic Stress Reactions to a more proactive Stress Management Response – faster and sooner.

      You are most welcome and invited to lean this direction whenever it is helpful! : )


  2. I love your statement : ”Life could just be moving from mistake to mistake to mistake, each time getting closer and closer to greater success, all the while, feeling good about learning something valuable.”

    There is so much self forgiveness in that statement, I know I am so hard on myself when I am in error. When I make a ”mistake” I feel more that ..”I am a mistake.” I am going to use your statement, write it down in my purse somewhere to remind myself of the benefits of mistakes to move toward something higher, more valuable, like the learning process. thank you, there is so much more I can say, …thanks so much !!

    1. Mmadeleine,

      I am so glad you loved that statement. It captures so much for me, too.

      And yes, self forgiveness, but even more than that is possible, e.g., not evening judging one’s self in the first place.

      My wife, Clair, used to declare often, “I am valuable simply because I exist”. She was right. No baby had self doubt. It is something we learned.

      We can come to a place eventually, sooner hopefully than later, of realizing we are just a student in a school learning lessons specially prepared by a teacher who knows our faults (unlearned lessons) and loves us, accepts us completely anyway. When you assume that in the eternity of time everyone will learn their lessons, compassion for self and others is easier! : )


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