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Happy Thoughts

Anxiety and Excitement


One of The Eight Pillars of Happiness is Feeling. Research shows that anxiety and excitement feel the same physiologically. It's how we label that physiological feeling that changes our relationship with it. 
Anxiety and Excitement


I have battled anxiety as far back as I can remember. It comes with being both a perfectionist and a people pleaser. It has been a constant work in progress for me to shake these identities around expectations and instead build experiences around actual, in-the-moment feelings.

I know that one of The Eight Pillars of Happiness is feeling, so I know I need to lean into and learn about these feelings in order to build sustainable happiness for myself. 

Which brings me to the amazing work of Brené Brown. Brown's work around feelings and language has changed my relationship with anxiety. 

Brown has found that anxiety and excitement present the same physiologically. But (there's always a but) people who label the physiological response as anxiety tend to have more negative experiences than those who label the feeling as excitement. 

The reaction is the same. How we feel the emotion is the same. How we label the emotion changes whatever happens next. 

I am focused on this distinction today as I find myself trying to control the narrative around my podcast launch this morning. Because me launching a podcast feels big and scary. Putting myself and my work out in the public feels very vulnerable. 

If I'm being completely honest, I'm feeling very anxious right now. My thoughts are racing. 

Will people hate it? Who will even listen? What if it fails? What if no one thinks it has any value? What will people think of me?

But, maybe it isn't anxiety. Maybe it's excitement. 

People deserve to hear how easy it can be to create a sustainable happiness practice. Think of all the people this could help. What if this really takes off? What if this helps people live happier, healthier lives? 

Even the simple switch of labels while writing this post has me looking beyond my vulnerability. I am now excited about the possibilities this podcast has in enabling happiness in other people's lives. 

I shared the first episode with a friend when I was still in anxiety-land over putting myself out there. She very gracefully reminded me that I should remember the podcast isn't about me. It's about my message. It's about sharing with the world and helping others. It isn't about me, it's about you. 

That's another mindset shift from anxiety to excitement. When we center ourselves, it's easy to feel vulnerable and scared. When we center helping other people, it's easy to get excited about the potential impact in their lives. Same content. Same audience. Different emotional reaction. 

Both anxiety and excitement feel the same in our bodies. How we decide to label the feeling has the power to change the narrative moving forward. 

So what can we do to shift the narrative when the feeling arises? We can lean into the feeling and label it to our benefit. 

  1. Verbally label the feeling as excitement. Say out loud, "I am excited because" and complete the thought. 
  2. Instead of thinking about what could go wrong, focus your feelings on what could go right.
  3. De-center yourself. Focus on how your vulnerability is helping others. 

Get excited, friends. It's one of the best ways to combat anxiety.