The Emotional Agility Manifesto

By Susan David

Emotional agility is the absence of pretense and performance—in other words, it’s the ability to be real. It gives your actions greater power because they emanate from your core values and core strength, something solid and genuine and authentic.

We reach that level of emotional agility through a series of tiny steps, those seemingly insignificant everyday moments that add up over the course of a lifetime.

You can start this journey today with what I call the “emotional agility manifesto.”

Appoint yourself the agent of your own life and take ownership of your own development, career, creative spirit, work, and connections. Who do you want to be?

Accept your full self—both the so-called “good” and “bad” emotions, your strengths, your anxieties, the whole package—with compassion, courage, and curiosity.

Acceptance is a prerequisite for change.

Welcome your inner experiences, breathe into them, and learn their contours without racing for the exit.

Embrace an evolving identity and release narratives that no longer serve you.

Let go of unrealistic dead people’s goals by accepting that being alive means sometimes getting hurt, failing, being stressed, and making mistakes.

Free yourself from pursuing perfection so you can enjoy the process of loving and living.

Open yourself up to the love that will come with hurt and the hurt that will come with love; to the success that will come with failure and the failure that will come with success. 

Abandon the idea of being fearless, and instead walk directly into your fears, with your values as your guide, toward what matters to you. Courage is not an absence of fear; courage is fear walking

Choose courage over comfort by vitally engaging with new opportunities to learn and grow, rather than passively resigning yourself to your circumstances.

Recognize that life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility. We’re young, until we’re not. We’re healthy, until we’re not. We’re with those we love, until we’re not. 

Learn how to hear the heartbeat of your own why. 

And finally, remember to dance if you can.

These wisdoms have guided me for many years and I hope you will find them as useful as I do. Emotional agility isn’t a one-time goal you accomplish or a gold medal you receive. 

Instead, it’s a continuous process that requires persistent work. And it’s immensely helpful to use these small reminders to find your way back to it over and over again.


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