01/13/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

5 Common Sense Keys For Emotional Well-Being

Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.

James Thurber

If common sense was so common, there would be much more of it around. In my experience working with many clients over the years, life transitions and turning points are usually accompanied by emotional upheavals, such as feelings of confusion, chaos, fear, doubt, anger, guilt, resentment and so forth Not trained as a therapist, I do not have the tools to assist a person work through emotional issues. I simply listen. I listen not only to the story being told, but beyond to the greater essence of the person now seeking expression. I look for the seam of gold within, and sooner or later, it shows up. I recognize it and reflect it back.

The seam of gold comes with clarity about what to do next, enthusiasm for the task to be undertaken and unshakable confidence that it will come about. The human spirit when it comes alive is truly inspiring and unstoppable. I have discovered that we are all generously well-equipped to thrive on our journey through life. It can take a wake up call before we are fully aware of our innate strengths and qualities.

The joy and pleasure my work gives me almost goes without saying. To watch a person's face transform and lighten up as they move into the awareness of what they most want in their heart of hearts, with the conviction they can have it, is one of the most precious gifts I get to receive. It is an honour. I believe that the current global turmoil is offering many of us a wake up call to our greater possibilities for fulfilment, to connect with the deeper seam of gold within us, waiting for us to find it.

Don't be afraid to go out on a limb. That's where the fruit is.

Jackson Browne

How do we get to reveal the greater life that is available for us to realize? Negative emotions keep us stuck. Positive emotions liberate us into possibility and opportunity. I believe it is through being as relaxed and as open as possible that we lift ourselves into greater vision and visibility. We can replace the negative emotions with positive ones. It is not that hard to do. It takes willingness.

There are five keys I offer to develop emotional well-being in times of crisis and turmoil:

1. Humour

Limit the time you watch tv news. Watch more comedy. Look for the funny side of life - there is plenty of it about. You might like to create a Playlist of YouTube videos that make you laugh.

Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.

2. Gratitude

Anyone who has access to a computer has something to be grateful for. It is all too easy to go round looking at all we don't have, or can't have, and sink into feelings of lack and deprivation. Try going for a short walk each day, counting your blessings as you go. Or start a Gratitude Journal and each evening, record at least 5 things you have appreciated, and why you are grateful for them.

A key is to appreciate with gratitude what you find. Everything has value.
Nothing needs to be different from what it is. That's a beginning point.
If you venture forth without accepting things the way they are,
you are in a path of separation and disturbance.
You are going to be off and out of balance.
You will need to come back to acceptance,
which is letting things be what they are
and open to what can become.

John Morton

3. Exercise/Action

Many years ago, I was giving a talk to a Chamber of Commerce group in the South of England. It was a time of economic down turn. Many people were out of work. One woman at the front of the audience caught my eye. She was radiant, bright and enthusiastic. I questioned how come she looked so extraordinarily well. Since she had been out of work, she had been going regularly to the gym, lost weight and was fitter now than she had ever been. She was confident and optimistic that sooner or later, she would find a job that would suit her.

It is much harder to be depressed and pessimistic when you are physically engaged in your life. This could be regular exercise. Or it could be taking action to clear a cellar, bookshelves, clothes closets. You can be creating the space to receive the future life you would most like to be enjoying.

Do not be too timid and squeamish about your reactions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. Future Focus

Plan things to look forward to in both the short, and if possible long, term. They do not have to be expensive. Plan a pot luck supper with friends you do not see often. Join a local dance, choir or theatre group and work towards a performance. Schedule a visit to an art gallery, museum or open air market with your family. Through the process of serendipity, you may discover things about yourself, and your future life, that will lift your spirits.

Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom.

Marilyn Ferguson

5. Language

The language we use can lift or lower us. It is easy to allow ourselves to dip into worst case scenarios, I call them tabloid dramas, which may never happen. By observing the words you use, you may find when you are entertaining limitation, fear and doubt. Experiment using the language of opportunity and possibility. Imagine the good that might be right around the corner, instead of the catastrophes. The words we think and speak condition how we feel, either into confidence or into contraction.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it.