The Secret to Managing How you Feel

Sometimes I feel jazzed. Other times I’m just dopey. I come alive while I’m doing something. Lying in bed drains my vitality. The less I do, the less I feel like doing.

Feelings follow actions.

Image of a group of wooden pawns with one out in front.

Feelings follow actions.


The things you feel are consequences of the things you do.

Feeling grateful is the result of acting with gratitude.

Feeling kind is the result of doing something useful for others without expecting payment.

You aren’t a victim of feelings. You create them.

The secret to managing feelings is creating them.

Will Durant summarized Aristotle when he wrote, “You are what you repeatedly do.” I’m shifting the focus of that statement. You feel in alignment with what you repeatedly do.

Behaviors drive feelings:

The physical act of smiling when you aren’t happy increases happiness. If you don’t believe me, walk around with a big grin on your face. It’s a silly illustration, but it’s still true.

The act of standing like Wonder Woman with your hands on your hips boosts feelings of confidence. (Youtube)

Actions drive feelings.

Suppose you’re a pro at feeling grumpy. The problem isn’t the feeling. It’s your lack of doing. Grumpy people aren’t doing what they think should be done. Usually they want someone else to do it.

Over a hundred years ago, noted psychologist William James wrote, ”We feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble.” Not everyone accepts these observations, but it would serve you well to practice the truth behind them, even if it feels weird.

Suppose you want to feel vitality today. Act like results depend on you. Do something that matters. Waiting for permission to act is an invitation for exhaustion and frustration.

How do actions drive feelings for you?

How might leaders leverage the idea that actions drive feelings?