Because I’m Happy – Managing our Emotional Health for Happiness

  • self esteem; emotional health; happy

    By Dr Foo Koong Hean

    Qualification : Senior Lecturer - Psychology

    Monday June 19 2017 10:20 AM Comments 0

    The FestivalForGood, organised by raiSE (Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise) in Singapore is a one of a kind festival that celebrates all things ‘good’ ( #PARTOFTHEGOOD ). This colourful festival brings a vibrant community of social entrepreneurs under one roof to celebrate their passion and their spirit of innovation. There’s something for everyone at this event – from learning how to play the Peruvian drum called Cajon, to circus performances, to hands-on workshops, to interactions with social entrepreneurs to gain an insight into the rewards and challenges of running a social enterprise, this two-day event is power packed with fun and energy. The aim of this event is simple – to give the people of Singapore and opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, have fun, and become a part of something ‘good’.


    When we talk about ‘good’, we have to speak about health. Given the rise of lifestyle-related diseases, we are becoming increasingly aware of the measures that we need to take to retain our health. But how many of us listen to, or are even concerned about the condition of our emotional health? In today’s socio-economic environment, there are enough stressors and influences in our lives that keep us from being a 100% emotionally healthy. What we don’t realise is that not paying attention to our emotional health also affects us physically. There are enough and more studies that prove that stress can lead to a number of major ailments and can cause strokes, heart disease and contribute to other lifestyle diseases such as diabetes etc. Having said this, in order to manage our emotions that contribute to stress, we first need to get introduced to our emotions, especially the ones that we tend to suppress. Once we familiarise ourselves with our emotions, only then will we be able to manage them well enough to remain self-assured and happy. 


    Keeping this in mind, we hosted an event at the FestivalForGood event called “Get to know your emotions” where we connected our audience with Senior Psychologist Dr. Koong Hean Foo via our portal. Now, instead of going to Dr. Google to get answers to questions regarding your emotional health, we gave our audience an avenue to discuss the same with an expert.


    During the course of the discussion, we touched upon some very important questions – questions that seem deceptively simple but could be quite complex to answer and apply in our day-to-day lives. Some questions threw light on the preconceived notions of happiness that we have – for example, how ‘happy’ and ‘sad’ are relative terms and apply differently to every individual. What makes one ecstatic might only just manage to please another and what pushes someone into deep sadness only might just ruffle a few feathers for another. 


    One question that came under discussion was how should we control our emotions when we fight with others? Dr. Foo explained that we fight when we are angry. However, anger is not a source of evil but an emotion that should be felt and managed in a manner that it does not upset us. This can only happen when we connect with ourselves and know ourselves entirely – inside and out. Only when we achieve this, will we be able to perceive and interpret the situations surrounding us in a manner that is conducive to us. With the help of cognitive structuring of our thoughts, we can assume better control of our thoughts and emotions and can manage ourselves better when faced with situations that lead to emotional duress, anger, and uneventful confrontations. 


    The conversation also veered towards gaining control over our emotions. Considering that thoughts and emotions are involuntary, how do we condition the same to become voluntary? While it might seem like a herculean task, doing simple things like counting to 10 or drinking a glass of water instead of reacting immediately helps in calming the mind. That is enough time to say what you need to say and react in a manner that is suited to you. This practice eventually conditions you to take a moment before you react which ensures that you are in control of your emotions and not the other way around. Also, taking some time for yourself at the end of each day to introspect and reflect on your actions to assess where you need to improve helps you grow as an individual and ultimately achieve your full potential. 


    In our daily lives, many times, we have to interact with people who provoke us and disturb our emotional peace. Interacting with these people seems to build the stress further up in our already stressful lives. The best thing to do is to avoid these emotional stressors but in case you can’t, Dr. Foo suggests that instead of talking ‘at’ the person, we should try and talk ‘to’ the person. Preparing the person for a dialogue and then telling them how you feel generally leads to a solution that everyone can accept and happily live with. 


    Dr. Foo also highlighted that emotions are not a ‘zero sum’ game. Emotional ups and downs will continue to be a part of life but once we are in touch with our emotions, learn to communicate effectively to those who contribute to our emotional health and identify ways to communicate with those who feed on our emotional energy, we will be able to live a happy, healthy and truly fulfilling life. 





    The opinions expressed in Healthy Mind Online “Specialist Opinion” are solely those of the named Specialist, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. Some information have been abridged from the mentioned sources. Nothing in the content should be considered, or used as a substitute for medical advice, psychiatric advice, diagnosis or treatment. This site and its services do not constitute the practice of any medical, psychiatric nursing or other professional health care advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs. We advise users to always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions regarding personal health, medical or psychiatric conditions.

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