Do you want me to give you an impossible assignment? OK then, try to describe completely what you’re feeling right at this very moment. Well, how’s it going? Of course you can come up with words like angry, tired, calm, relaxed or surprised. But that’s just the first layer. These are words that express the emotional state you’re experiencing at the moment. But the ‘feeling’ that lurks beneath that is more difficult to describe. And to make matters worse, we are all unique. So when you say that you’re ‘relaxed’ or ‘angry’, you could be describing a totally different physical state to the state described by someone else who says he’s feeling ‘relaxed’ or ‘angry’.

Is the fact that feelings are so hard to describe the reason that some people insist that they don’t have any feelings or don’t know what they’re feeling? That they haven’t learned to express these feelings or that they just don’t have the necessary words in their vocabulary? Another reason could be that in the environment they come from they weren’t allowed to express their feelings (‘boys don’t cry’) because it was considered to be a sign of weakness for example. So those feelings were suppressed. Whatever the reason may be for someone to say that they don’t have any feelings or don’t know what they’re feeling, the fact is that everyone has feelings. They arise from a natural process that you can’t stop, in which an event (in your environment) evokes an emotional response. These are signs that give an indication of your inner state.

Your feelings also help determine how you behave. For example: what feelings do you have when you’re phoning potential clients? If you experience feelings of ‘resistance’ or ‘tension’, there’s a chance that you’ll put off doing it. And when you finally get round to making that call, how much enthusiasm will the person at the other end of the line hear in your voice, if you’re still experiencing those feelings of ‘resistance’ and ‘tension’? A possible solution to this could be to put a smile on your face before you make the call. Because your brain can’t tell the difference between what’s true and what’s not, when you do this, it will receive a signal telling it that something pleasurable is about to happen. This contributes to changing your emotional state. Which increases the chance of your clients hearing a positive energy in your voice, which in turn contributes to creating a connection. They are able to hear the smile through the telephone.

However, an event in your immediate surroundings is never the direct reason for your behaviour. For example: someone has just approached you in a very unfriendly way (event) and this leads to you putting off the work you have to do for him (behaviour). This looks like a logical cause and effect situation. Btu it’s not the complete story. We’ve forgotten two steps here: the acknowledgement of your own feelings and thoughts about the event that form the basis for your behaviour. So we see a ‘formula’ coming through here: an event leads to thoughts that you have and feelings that you experience, which form the basis for the behaviour you display. In the earlier example, the chain might be as follows. I get approached in an unpleasant manner. I consider this to be disrespectful on the part of that person. I become irritated by it and therefore decide – consciously or unconsciously – to put off doing the work I have to do for that client. This insight into your own thought processes and your feelings forms the basis for taking responsibility for your behaviour when experiencing an unpleasant situation, instead of blaming it directly on the other person.

You can also evoke feelings consciously by carrying out specific activities so that you can influence the behaviour of others. To get an idea of what I mean by this, have a look at this short film in which people are playfully ‘persuaded’ to take the stairs rather than the escalator. The effect: 66% more people than normal take the stairs! On www.thefuntheory.com you can see more examples of how behaviour can be influenced through pleasure.

The challenge this time has something to do with this theme. In the next few weeks, approach people – it doesn’t matter whether you know them already or not – with a smile and say hello to them in a friendly way without there being a specific reason for it. So that could be your partner, colleague, manager, client, neighbour, cashier or a random passer-by on the street. Observe the effect this has on that other person and see what it does with the relationship between the two of you. While you’re doing this, note what happens with your own feelings and how it affects your own thinking and behaviour. I’m curious to know what you discover.

Have fun with your feelings!

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