3 Actions You Can Take Now to Shift Your Emotional State

A few weeks ago, I had to speak five times in one day. I knew it would require a lot of me mentally and emotionally. My goal is always to give 110 percent. I want nothing left on the table when I finish.

Close Up of a Hand Down Shifting a Manual Transmission - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/dtimiraos, Image #4801950

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/dtimiraos

But, for some reason, I woke up that morning in a funk. I don’t know why. It was one of those things I couldn’t explain. But I didn’t like it and knew I needed to get myself in a better place if I was going to deliver on my goal.

There was a time when I thought I couldn’t change my attitude. I viewed myself as the victim of mysterious forces that shaped my emotional state. It never occurred to me that I could shift it—almost instantly.

But as I have learned since, we have more control than we think. Moreover, Tony Robbins taught me how to apply this principle to my emotional state. Without question, it is the single most important life skill I have acquired.

Let me elaborate.

You can instantly shift your attitude by taking the following three actions:

  1. Shift your mental focus. This is where it starts. I can choose what I think about. For example, I can think, Argh, I have to speak five times today. Or, I can think, Wow, I get to speak five times today. This is so important, that I have literally written down a script that I recite before I speak. This is how I prime the pump:
    • I am not here by accident. God sent me. To these people. At exactly this time.
    • That’s because He has a purpose; therefore, I have a purpose in being here.
    • Through Christ, I can do all things. He has given me every resource I need to succeed.
    • I have the energy, the passion, and the message to make a huge impact—now and for eternity.
    • What I have to share today is vitally important. It matters. To them and to their loved ones.
    • Those that hear it will be changed forever. Years from now, they will look back on today and say, “It started here.”
    • By God’s grace, I am prepared. I am strong. I am energetic. I am outstanding. My heart is wide open. I will connect and make a difference!
  2. Change your posture. Do you know that every emotion has physical attributes? For example, if I say to you, “act like you are depressed,” you would likely slump your shoulders, tilt your head down, and rub your face. You would frown and your breathing might slow down.

    If I say to you, “act like you won the lottery,” you would likely jump up and down, thrust your arms up into the air, and scream with joy. You would smile and your breathing might speed up.

    Does the emotion cause the action or does the action cause the emotion? The truth is, it doesn’t matter. If you smile, for example, and hold it for several seconds, it will change your biochemistry.

    In an article published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a team of psychologists at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, showed that simply having people put their facial muscles in a configuration typical of a given emotion produced the feeling that the expressions represent. (See this article in the New York Times and this one in Scientific American.)

  3. Watch your language. Our words are more important than we think. They reflect our thinking. But they sometimes influence our thinking as well.

    Words have tremendous power. King Solomon reminds us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:21).

    But rarely do we apply these words to the language we use in talking to ourselves. For example, you ask someone, “How are you doing?” They respond, “Well, I’m surviving.” Strangely, those words shape their reality—or at least their perception of it. They end up barely getting by.

    Conversely, I have another friend who always replies, “Outstanding!” This too shapes his reality. He always seems to be doing well. I know he has challenges, but his words empower him and give him the resources he needs to overcome them.

Honestly, this formula works for me every time—almost like a recipe. If I am deliberate about taking these three actions, my emotional state shifts.

The good news is that this puts me—and you—in control. And often this spells the difference between success and failure.

Have your doubts? Take the seven day challenge. Try this for seven days and see if it doesn’t make a difference. Report back with your results. I’d love to hear.

Question: What would being able to shift your emotional state at will make possible for you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Stacy Harp

    Another excellent post. Sometimes it’s hard to just be obedient to God’s word and focus on what is true, lovely etc, but the good news is that when we do, we benefit greatly.

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

    We are just finishing a series on attitude in our adult class on Sunday mornings, and I’m going to share this article with them. It confirms nicely what I taught on last Sunday and will help us finish up the series well this Sunday.

  • http://emuelle1.blogspot.com/ Eric S. Mueller

    It does help quite a bit. It definitely takes a lot of discipline to not react to the world the way you feel at the moment. It can take work to catch and correct your feelings, and to train yourself to do it every time.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      You are right—a lot of discipline! I wonder if an attitude like this is developed over time like a muscle? I wonder if you can get “attitude muscle memory” where you don’t have to think about it as much—you are just in the “attitude groove.”

      • http://emuelle1.blogspot.com/ Eric S. Mueller

        Barry, I think so. Remember in the 80′s and 90′s when society’s message was “If you’re angry, you have to get it out. Otherwise you’ll just blow up later”. But then it was discovered all you were doing was training yourself to blow up in smaller chunks. 

        Obviously, we have to face our issues, but handling anger (and other feelings) takes training to do well. That’s where it becomes discipline. We don’t do it naturally. We have to work hard to achieve it.

  • Jean :)

    Michael great article I agree wholeheartedly!  My Honey (Husband) calls me Polly Anna on occasion so I get the positive stuff.  Sometimes though as we humans do the negative tries to win and that is when what you wrote about becomes important…what it opens up for me is the opportunities are endless and we can especially when God directs us…we can!  Thanks for the encouragement :)

  • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

    What a timely post! In March, I’ll be delivering 3 workshops back to back at a regional ministry conference, and my husband and I are leaving the country the next morning. I have been thinking of tricks to prime myself even now.

    Truly our physical posture and the words we say to ourselves and others make all the difference. The brain is a very goal-oriented organ. If we focus on “dreading it,” we’ll use our energy and brain power on resisting and dreading. I proved myself right last Thursday when I was preparing to leave town the next day. I accomplished everything on my dream list. The day before I didn’t think I could get all this done, but when I consciously wrote off my limiting belief, I proved I could.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    • Jim Martin

      Theresa, you make a great point about using our energy and brain power on resisting and dreading something.  Thanks for this reminder.

  • Tamara

    I’m in total agreement with you! My mental and emotional state are critical to
    making daily progress towards my goals. It helps me to start my day, often before dawn, with my face on the floor in total submission and dependance on God. Here I ask Him to help me do and be what He wants today. Then I spend about 30 minutes doing various yoga poses as I meditate on the Lord’s goodness and scriptures that come to mind. When I’m faithful to do this routine it does wonders for my attitude, posture, emotions and productivity. Thank you Michael for all you do! Blessings…

  • Dphock

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today.  I’ve been struggling to cope with some difficult things and have been having a hard time getting myself out of a funky mood.  I was meant to read this today and you’ve given me just the push I needed to remember that I can control how I am feeling.  Thanks so much!

    • Jim Martin

      Dphock, so glad that Michael’s post spoke to you so powerfully.  From the number of comments on this post, it seems to have encouraged many of us today.  (I was certainly encouraged by it.)

  • http://www.jennajeske.com Jenna Jeske

    Barry, that is awesome!  I think you should start writing “choose your own attitude” books!  lol  It could really help people see the consequences of their attitude and actions ahead of time.

  • http://twitter.com/asparagusguy Neal Ely

    Thank You for this excellent post Michael.  It is so true that we must shif our mental focus. I am going to print this out, and put it up in my office, so that I will be reminded of this each and every day. 

  • http://www.jennajeske.com Jenna Jeske

    I love that – “life is tremendous and getting better!”  Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.jennajeske.com Jenna Jeske

    I think we have given too much attention to negative thoughts with the emphasis on being “authentic.”  For years, I tried to be “real” when people asked how I was doing.  In reality, it just ended up being negative.  Now I respond with positivity, knowing that I can change my attitude.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’ve been thinking exactly the same thing, Jenna!

    • Jim Martin

      Jenna, what a great point!  You are so right!

  • Brian Stewart

    Thank you for this post. It is beneficial; mso much so I will share it with others.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Great idea, Brian!  I’m going to share it to…

  • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

    Thanks for the encouragement, Michael. I’m still a bit disappointed you did not work in the word “hogwash” to your personal recitation.

  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

    Excellent advice Michael.  Our self-talk can really influence our emotions.  You give us great insight in to how to overcome to the funks we get ourselves in to.

  • Alwyn

    Each morning, as I put my feet on the floor I say loudly “This is the day that the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and be glad in it”.. Works for me!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      I love your way of getting out of bed Alwyn. It reminds me of the way Zig Ziglar encourages people to wake up –

      Start with two hand claps (Clap, Clap) and say “Oh, boy, what a GREAT
      day to wake up and get going! I believe something wonderful is going to
      happen to me today!”

  • http://twitter.com/sherrylwriter sherrylwriter

    Michael, sometimes when a friend asks me how I am, I find I reply, “OK” or “Surviving” or similar, because I know they are going through bad times and I think if I show how great things are for me or how I’m feeling great today, I’ll make them feel worse! I’m not sure what the answer is to this one.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That’s a tough situation Sherryl. But I think by saying “I’m ok” or “Surviving” doesn’t really do your friends any favors. It might reinforce that a better life isn’t a reality.

      As an alternative, you could possibly encourage them with the things you see going right in their life. Let them know that they have things that they do well and that it’s appreciated.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Sherryl, I like Joe’s comments … there can only be good that happens when you have a positive attitude.  

      I would also add that the best thing you can do for a person going through tough times is to stop what you’re doing, ask them about how they are doing and really listen.   You may actually turn their attitude just by giving them a patient ear.   Of course, there are also people who insist on consistently focusing on the negative in their lives no matter what.  If anyone consistently feels worse because you feel great, that is a person that you don’t want to give open access to your life.  You need people around you that fill you up, not people that empty you out.  

      Thanks for sharing your concerns on this topic!

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    I will really use this most mornings when I get up at 2 am to deliver bread! Thanks for the tips.

    • Jim Martin

      Wow – 2 am to deliver bread!  Good for you in deciding to use this so early in the morning.

      • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

        I got no choice…. yet

        • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

          It’s time to make the doughnuts!  ;-)  Keep up the good attitude.

          • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

            thanks kelly, will do!

  • Lucy

    I have always had a tiny lingering doubt about myself that I am not good and can’t get good, whether it be work or home or church. No matter how much praise I receive. 

    I will certainly try this. Sometimes I am scared  to be happy for too long as it means something bad will happen soon to take it away. I also have a bad habit of visualizing  victim scenarios rather than victory ones. Thank you for this suggestion, I will be sure to post back. 

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Lucy, that is something we all face. It’s also something we must confront in order to overcome it. Focus on the things you have done right, the areas you shine the most. The more you do it, the smaller that doubt will get.

  • http://www.forest-jones.net/ Ian Forest-Jones

    You are absolutely right, Michael, and I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Although, I have tried to say exactly this very thing in many of my own sermons and writings. 

    I have found that people too easily adopt the attitude of victim in life.  They don’t want to put the effort into being proactive, to taking charge of their life.  “In this life there will be trouble…”  No one doubts that, but as the Serendipity Prayer encourages, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

    Do what you can, people, to take advantage of the circumstances that come your way and let God take care of the rest!

    Thanks for the post, Mr Hyatt.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Great thoughts, Ian.  You remind me of one of my favorite Mark Batterson quotes:  “Work like it depends on you, and pray like it depends on God”.

  • Zachary Sigmon

    Great post! The list on the first action was especially awesome.

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    It would make my mornings much more enjoyable!

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    I had a lack of sleep last night and now I’m sitting at a cafe doing my work. I took some time out to read this blog. I just made a conscious decision to smile and say, “Thank you God that I get the opportunity to work on my music at a cafe”. Smiling was the catalyst for my entire emotional shift which happened in approximately 3.45 seconds :P

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      That’s awesome Daren!  What a great example of mental shift!

    • Jim Martin

      Daren, I’m glad you shared this experience.  This is the kind of everyday experience that so many of us find ourselves dealing with.  Sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of the day and know that we need to make a conscious choice about what we will do.

  • http://www.wcwpartners.com/ Rick Conlow

    Hi Michael
    Our mental state is a choice and the three actions you describe help us make more positive choices. It takes an intentional effort but we can redirect our behavior with what you describe.  We aren’t at the mercy of our environment, physical condition or variable emotional state. We can change for the beter, fast. Excellent!

    I enjoyed that you relate to God and scripture. Reading the word has a positive impact on our mental attitudes as well. Thanks for the great reminders.

    Rick Conlow

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Great points, Rick!  Especially that reading scripture has a positive impact on us.  Of course, many of Michael’s lines in #1 come from scripture.  I also love praying the Psalms in first person.  That will instantly change my attitude!

  • http://marclougee.com/ Marc Lougee

    Wonderful post, Sir! 

    I appreciate your sharing an experience of your own; despit ethe opportunity to make huge imapct in amny people’s day, you still somehow woke up in a funk. It’s a mystery, but as you so kindly shared with us, that funky feeling is totally reversible, and in our control to do so. Brillaint.

    Thank you for the reminder of how much God has indeed given us in respect to our inner resources, and His, of course.

    • Jim Martin

      Marc, I too appreciated this reminder of how God blessed us with inner resources like this.

  • Karen

    good advice! thanks

  • http://www.momentsofgracelotr.com/ Anne Marie Gazzolo

    Great ideas and actions! There is someone at work who is such a pleasure to be around because he is almost always so very up. I agree with words having power and I love your words about priming the pump. Thank you!

    God bless, Anne Marie Gazzolo

  • Sherry Lynn Leonard

    “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he!”

  • http://twitter.com/DannaDemetre Danna Demetre

    This is one of my favorite topics – “being transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Rms 12:2). While there are some immediate actions we can take to transform our attitudes and emotions in the moment, transforming our mind (and the emotions that follow) is a habit worth pursuing. Tony Robbins would call it NLP – neuro linquistic programming. God calls it “renewing or setting our minds”. When we combine the principles of how God designed our brains (you are what you think) with the power of His Word (the Word is living and active and shaper than a two-edge sword – able to cut out the lies and replace them with truth) – we have the power in Christ to handle negative emotions both practically and supernaturally!! I know this from personal experience overcoming five years of unrelenting panic attacks and 16 years of bulimia!

  • Meg Davis ~ MegDance.org

    WOW! I am printing your self talk and know I will be using it frequently ! Thank you!

  • http://avajae.blogspot.com Ava Jae

    I’ve certainly heard many of those before (like the one about facial expressions–it’s really interesting how we can actually change our moods just by smiling instead of frowning). I know even when I’m feeling down, if I tell people that I’m doing great and I keep repeating that I’m wonderful, I start to almost instantly feel better. It’s completely up to you to decide how you want to feel–if you dwell on the negative you’ll most certainly continue to feel poorly. If you force yourself to think positively and are determined to have a good day no matter what, chances are you’ll manage just that!

  • http://tangoleadership.wordpress.com/ PoulAndreassen

    The article you have
    presented has riddled out intricate structure of Management  into a simple structure. It is amazing to know
    that there are articles like this on web which actually takes the meaning of life
    in new aspect. “By God’s grace, I am prepared. I am strong. I am energetic. I
    am outstanding. My heart is wide open. I will connect and make a

  • http://www.thementoringleader.com/ Aaron Drake

    Excellent points Michael!  I have heard Tony Robbins say, “Change your physiology and you will change the way you feel.”  It’s very true.  I’ve found that when my thoughts take me to a bad emotional state (worry, stress, sadness) It’s usually when I am stationary.  If I get up and engage in an activity that requires movement, I notice an emotional boost almost immediately.  My wife kind of likes it when I get stressed because I get a lot done around the house! 

  • Trugliaf

    I tried it while I was reading it. I started reading the article a few minutes ago, with my 6 a.m. cup of coffee still hot in my hands, eyes open half way, shoulders slumped and sleepy eyes. I’m now straight as a lighthouse, smiling and energised (and not thanks to the coffee, as I didn’t even tried it). IT WORKS!!! I’ll keep practicing during the week. Thanks Michael

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Love it! Who needs coffee?!

  • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

    Thanks for this; it’s really astonishing how exhilarating one can feel in the midst of a funk. It resonates with preachers, as in “Bless You! – Why I like Preaching with a Cold” at http://www.clintarcher.com/?p=695

  • Guillermo Rosas

    Thanks, Michael:
    Everytime I read your blog, it always provides me with powerful insights for wise and productive living! May God continue to bless you and use you! Guillermo Rosas

  • http://exciramedia.com/ Shannon Steffen

    “Where the mind goes, the body follows.”

    I’ve lived this phrase for many years after spending more than half of my life playing the victim role. Today, I look back on my dysfunctional childhood and use certain examples of painful times to be “what not to keep” in my current life. I’ve always said that God placed me with that specific family to teach me how to be strong, self-reliant and to overcome all obstacles that cross my path. In other words – the family was there to teach me what *not* to do in my life.

    Once you release your past and change your mind (using steps like you listed above), you find the wonder and amazement in the world. You begin to see the power you have in yourself. And, those goals that you once felt were not for you (because you are *not* good enough) become a reality. 

    You are the power. Change your perspective and watch the gifts flow.

  • Travis Cole

    Wanna change your attitude, simply read the comments section.  Holy buckets, talk about being surrounded by positive people even though it is via cyberspace.  Livin the Dream!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am definitely blessed!

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  • http://www.leadtoimpact.com/ Bernard Haynes

    Micheal this is a great post. I especially like number 1. I created a
    script like you did that I recite to encourage and empower me. I carry
    it in my wallet and recite it often just to keep my mind in tune to
    God’s direction for my life. When things get crazy I read from
    affirmations and it shifts my mental focus. Instead of focusing on the
    negative it refocuses me to think on who I am and what I am called to

    I have learned it is very important to encourage ourselves daily and
    frequently. We are bombarded by soooooooo much negativity that it can
    easily influence us to have the same mindset. That is why I focus on
    what God’s Word say we can be and do. I read encouraging blogs like
    yours and others. I have developed an inner circle of mentors and close
    friends that offers support and accountability.

    I also love the third point to speak life. The example I love to use is
    when David challenged Goliath. Instead of accepting what others were
    saying, David said that he could defeat the giant. He spoke what he
    believed and walked in it. I believe that our words have power. We can
    change our perspective on a situation by speaking words of life. Not
    saying that we are not going to be met with challenges, but our words
    can empower us to walk through it with confidence that there is eventual
    victory in the end.

    Michael, keep writing material that encourages. We need it.


    Bernard Haynes


  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    The language issue is one I’ve begun to address recently.  I’m starting to see a positive change because I tell people I’m doing awesome rather than saying “I’m still alive” like I used to.  Small change, big results.

  • http://twitter.com/JessBlogSchmog Jessie Gunderson

    The mom version of your pep talk. ;)

    God sent me to help with this accident made by these little people. At exactly this time.
    That’s because He has a purpose; therefore, I have been purposed to be these specific children’s parent.
    Through Christ, I can do all things. Even if it means another load of laundry.
    I have the energy, the passion, and after it’s all over I’ll get a massage (not really :)) to make a huge impact—now and for eternity.
    Learning to share is vitally important. It matters. To them and for their future spouses sake.
    I will be changed forever. Years from now, I will look back on today and say, “It started here.”
    By God’s grace, I am prepared. I am strong. I am energetic. I am outstanding. My heart is wide open. I will connect and make a difference because God has trusted me with the future!I’m smiling and sweeping up a spilled box of cornstarch. The future is in my hands. Great post.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is awesome. Thanks!

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Timely. That funk you had hit me yesterday (must have headed north). I’m at least sitting up in my chair as I type this.

  • Constance Buckley

    I know what it feels like. I took a course with a manual written by Pastor Jack Hayford. The prayer I prayed from his book was, “Lord, I line up my body under my soul, my soul under my spirit, my spirit under the Holy Spirit.” I may be paraphrasing. The effect was and is incredible. From feeling completely distraught, I’ve gone to hopeful. To God be the glory.

  • Celia Cawthon

    Incredibly and embarrassingly on target for me Michael.  God has certainly sent you to me for such a time as this.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Wonderful. I am so glad.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Changing the posture has really worked wonders for me. Our body language conveys message faster than anything else to others. I take care that I do not wrong signal to my team through my negative posturing.

  • Sandi

    Just wanted to say,  thanks I needed this reminder today!

  • K. L. Bell

    I believe those ‘three actions’ would make it possible for me to tap more deeply into the power of God.  I often allow what is going on around me to determine how much or how little I will believe God’s clearly communicated promises to never leave or forsake me and of life more abundantly. 

    I realized while reading your post that often when people ask me how I am doing, I respond by saying with a smile, “I’m living”.  And it dawned on me that so are cacti and people with no hope, dreams or goals for their future.  I am determined to do more than just live.  I will have abundant life!  My new response to that daily question will be, “Abundantly blessed!”

    I will take the 7 day challenge!  I just started this morning.  And already I can sense the peace and presence of God’s promises! 

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Awesome! I hope it is a pivotal 7 days.

  • http://twitter.com/hirstmusic Mike Hirst

    I needed this desperately this morning. Going through a terribly tough time and decided to try the “pretend you won the lottery” tactic and I was laughing like a lunatic while jumping around like an idiot. :) Thanks again Michael.

  • http://www.gailsangle.com Gail

    I’ve been using this technique for years and it really makes a difference! I also add another element – Breathing. Breathing the way you would in the desired emotional state helps move your biology fast e.g. quick breathing to get excited, slow breathing to overcome nerves.

    Most often I use it on a Friday night when I’m exhausted from the week and am about to walk into 3-4 hours of leading kids ministry. I stand tall at the door, tell myself it’s going to be the best, most fun night ever, take a few quick, excited breathes and go for it! It takes about twenty seconds but totally changes my attittude for the evening and coincidentally makes the night more fun for everyone :)

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Great idea Gail! Focusing on your breathing helps you to take a break from the external to look inside and collect yourself. Thanks for sharing.

  • Steward Elaine

    you simply find greatfullness  for every little thing around you and say thank you Jesus  even if its as little as hot water in a shower or a nice bed to sleep in at night and a warm safe place you call home,  Not every one has that?  Be greatfull and you will have a new look on life, Bless your day every day and you will find a blessing in that day,  May God bless you today and every day, You can not be funcky when your thankfull