One of the keys to making good decisions is developing emotional literacy—that is, tuning in to your own reactions and noticing that you may have many feelings at once. Take a small piece of paper, fold it twice (you'll make four squares), and unfold it. Think of a big moment that happened yesterday. In one of the squares, enter a symbol or design showing how you felt. What else did you feel? Write it in another square. Repeat for the last two squares. Now that you can see the range of emotions you had, which one got the most attention? Was it the most useful one to focus on? Did you ignore some of them?
Learning to manage your reactions more carefully is crucial to self-mastery. First thing in the morning, put 10 pennies in your left pocket. Each time you say or do something other than what you genuinely intended (maybe you softened a response too much or were harsher than you meant to be), transfer one penny to your right pocket. Keep practicing to reduce the number of right-pocket pennies.
The Silent-Movie Game:
This exercise helps you use the power of your feelings for the greater good. With a friend at lunch, on the bus, or in an airport, pick a few people and guess what's going on inside their minds. Then compare notes on what you glean the subjects are thinking, feeling, and doing, and what each most needs now from a supportive ally or friend.