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11 Habits of Happy and Healthy Highly Sensitive Persons, Part I

by Dave Markowitz(more info)

listed in mind matters, originally published in issue 238 - May 2017

Highly Sensitive Persons (HSP) tend to think of happiness as doing what you love and helping others in the process. While we don’t shy away from financial, material or relational joys, we don’t exclude them from our passions of personal growth and healing, either. We’ve already experienced how focusing on financial gains, a sense of security, or seeking the perfect relationship only adds to the emotional abyss that an unbalanced life can create. We primarily seek wholeness and connection - the keys for a truly extraordinary life that allow us to use our high sensitivities for the betterment of all.


Markowitz 238b 11 Habits of Happy Persons Part I


There are 11 habits I’ve seen that Happy and Healthy Highly Sensitive Persons either have or are cultivating. Numbers 1-6 are below:

  1. We Have Accepted That Being Highly Sensitive is a Gift;
  2. We Have Transformed Perceived Responsibility;
  3. We Know How to Work with Incoming Energy;
  4. We Embrace Our Shadow;
  5. We Trade in Escapism for Presence;
  6. We Honor the Body. 

Please don’t feel you have to master any one or all of them. Just do your best. Each day. And then do your best again the next day. And the next. All is unfolding in a perfect manner.

1. We Have Accepted That Being Highly Sensitive is a Gift 

Happy and Healthy Highly Sensitive Persons (HHHSPs) have accepted that we signed up for this experience. At some timeless time prior to incarnating into this body, we chose to have the experience of being the sensitive one. While all babies are born sensitive, our souls chose to have a particular set of parents in a particular part of the world at a particular time for a reason. We chose to be able to feel the emotions of those around us quite intensely so that we could experience empathy - a necessary ingredient for our soul’s evolution.

We chose to be the caretaker, the nurturer, the peacemaker, and to live a heart-centered life. We chose to care for others in a deep, profound manner.

But as a baby or child, we didn’t know how to manage this gift. Our desires to love were often met with the unhealed aspects of our caretakers. We saw how their wounds affected everyone including ourselves.

So we developed coping mechanisms to manage this incoming pain and to heal those who cared for us. We learned that our laughter could lighten the energy in the room. We also saw how our expressions of anger or sadness negatively affected the people in the room. We interpreted this as a personal responsibility - how could we not, considering the observable connection between what we did and the effects? Responsibility for others was born.

We took this perceived responsibility one step further. We so wanted to heal everyone around us using our inherent abilities, and because we could still feel our connection to Source we felt we’d have the energy for the task. We donned a ‘spiritual superhero cape’ and began to energetically absorb other people’s pain.

Utilizing our empathy gave us a sorely needed sense of connection. We were unaware at the time, but now are keenly aware that we were sowing the seeds of what we came here for - to heal the hurt. Because this energetic absorption was responded to with positive emotional or verbal validation, we continued to do so as we grew up. Ultimately, we got a sense of joy and purpose from these actions and many times we turned our gifts into a career.

The unskilled Highly Sensitive Person, or Empath, absorbs and keeps the incoming energy due to the perceived responsibility. For these persons, being highly sensitive is often a burden and leads to burnout in any caretaking profession or pain and illness irrelevant to the career. The skilled Empath; however, allows others’ energy in just enough to create resonance, and then we consciously direct what’s not ours. For the skilled Highly Sensitive Person, being highly sensitive is a gift beyond measure.

Affirmation: “I embrace my sensitivities!” 

2. We Have Transformed Perceived Responsibility 

 While we may have gotten a sense of love and connection from our ability to empathize, our own growth showed us that metaphysically speaking, we’re really not responsible for anyone other than ourselves. The perceptions we believed when we were younger were eventually seen for what they were - a conditioned reaction to our desires to help others. With our own growth, we are now better able to respond, rather than react. We can hold space without taking anything on that doesn’t belong to us, because we understand that each person has a path they must walk. Of course we can walk with them, just not for them.

Our desires to help others are now met with the conscious inquiry: “Am I operating from my pattern or my truth?” The pattern is what we learned in childhood and our truth is the bigger picture awareness that comes with knowing that each person’s soul is like a jigsaw puzzle:

Let’s say said puzzle has 1,000 pieces and the image that is created is of a beautiful lake. HHSPs know that if we take on any piece of that puzzle for another person, they are no longer complete - the lake would be less beautiful with a few pieces missing. And personally, we would be carrying extra energy.

This could lead to us feeling anxious, melancholy, lethargic, stuck, or dealing with muscle tightness among other conditions. For those whose energy we’ve absorbed, they often experience a seemingly inexhaustible longing. And to make things worse, we could spend months or even years clearing all our absorbed energy out with no permanent results. Without understanding our inherent desire to be a ‘walking sponge’ and working with that, we’d recreate whatever was cleared—the proverbial hamster wheel of healing for an HSP. 

Affirmation: “Metaphysically speaking, I am not responsible for anyone else’s soul path.” 

3. We Know How to Work with Incoming Energy

Sensitives learn to protect themselves by consciously or even unconsciously walling ourselves off from incoming energies. Unfortunately, this is very draining because it separates us from our intuitive guidance and other positive energies. Walling reduces our perception from the oneness we are and the oneness that we seek to exhibit in the world. To me, this walling is the energetic equivalent of keeping others at bay by holding out your hands with extended arms for protection. How long can anyone do that without getting tired?!

Rather than isolation or putting oneself in an energetic bubble for protection, Happy and Healthy Highly Sensitive Persons open and allow the incoming energy to enter us, but we also know what to hold onto and how to let go of what isn’t meant for us to carry. To date, I have seen no better tool to allow this flow than what came to me a few years ago. I call it the Keyhole.

The Keyhole is an extension of the Chakra system. The Chakras are vortices that allow energy to enter and exit our physical bodies, and appear to many to mimic a tornado on its side. If the front of these Chakras are open, we are more able to receive incoming transmissions, both for better and for worse. But for most of us, the aforementioned sense of responsibility has closed off the rear exit way of the Chakra, creating intense restrictions where there ideally might be a wider opening. By using the Keyhole as it was shown to me, we can consciously allow the positive energies in while not holding onto the negative energies.

Physical movement and sensory activation are the keys to learning anything deeply, so it’s better to take you through the process rather than to just explain it.

  • Step 1a is purely physical. We expand the front of the body by bringing the shoulders back and toward each other. We’ll call this heart expansion;
  • Step 1b would be the exact opposite, expanding the upper back and contracting the chest. We’ll call this heart contraction;
  • Step 2 is a bit more visceral. We feel the breath coming in through the front of the body during heart expansion and feel the breath exit the back of the body during heart contraction;
  • Step 3 is more visual. We visualize energy coming into the upper chest on that breath wave during heart expansion and then visualize energy leaving our upper back during heart contraction and breath exhalation.
  • Step 4 incorporates sound and hearing. As you are opening your heart-space, feeling the incoming breath and visualizing the incoming energy, say out loud, “Keep what’s meant for me.” And as we expand the upper back, exhale and imagine energy leaving the upper back we say, “Let go what’s not.”

These action steps combined with a healthy awareness of true responsibility keeps us open to our guidance and health-producing energies. We basically turn ourselves from a walking sponge into more of a colander.

Affirmation: “I’m me, and you’re you. Whatever you send, I let go through.”


Markowitz 238 11 Habits of Happy Persons Part I

4. We Embrace Our Shadow

 Part of the reason Highly Sensitive Persons are among the best counselors, therapists, healers, and friends and intimate partners is because we’ve had our share of pain and illness ourselves. Many of us have seen or experienced our shadow selves and came out better for it. Having had intense anger or rage or profound levels of sadness has forced us to make friends with our shadow.

We know that if we fight a perceived enemy, similar to fighting the schoolyard bully, we’d lose. What we fight gets more energy. What we embrace loses its charge. And because we’ve seen these parts of ourselves and have accepted their existence within us, we can better hold compassionate space for those who are in that place, as well as for ourselves as needed.

Affirmation: I am the light and the darkness, and all shades between.

5. We Trade in Escapism for Presence

Many Highly Sensitive Persons have spent so much of their time here trying to escape and heal. Because we feel so deeply, we not only have our own selves to work with, we've had to work with the pain of other people, too. This makes deep healing elusive as many sensitives and practitioners aren’t aware of empathically transmitted illness and pain or how to work with it. Making things even more challenging, the geographic cure never works. We can feel others’ energy from miles away, or in more extreme cases we can feel the collective pain of the planet and all the people on it.

I heard in a meditation once that the saltiness of the oceans is an energetic byproduct of the collective grief from all people since the dawn of time. And even if that seems far-fetched - or simply metaphorical - to me it’s a reminder that loss has been and always will be a part of our human experience.

Grieving is the body’s natural healing mechanism. Therefore it is beneficial to allow our feelings rather than stuff them. Stuffed emotions create stagnant energy leading to all sorts of maladies. For example, what is commonly called ‘depression’ isn’t from having grief, it’s from not feeling and befriending our grief.

HSPs know this so we let ourselves have our grief. But confusion sets in when we do so repeatedly and don’t seem to heal. As emotional sponges - we quickly recreate what was cleared. The next step for many was escape.

We learned to communicate with non-physical entities because quite simply, it’s more peaceful to live out there than it is to live in the 3D world. But too much esoteric thought keeps us out of our bodies so much that we don’t recognize the warning signs of pain or illness.

Our bodies are always talking to us. Pain and illness are notifications that something is out of alignment. Not being present to these messages allows the continued creation of energetic blockages leading to pain and illness. We’d go to well-meaning practitioners and get a diagnosis and be put on medications, further blocking our inner awareness. Or run the hamster wheel of modalities and practitioners without truly healing because we still weren’t aware of the true cause.

But at some point we learned the futility of trying to escape. To paraphrase my friend Ted McGrath, "What we tried to jump over, we’d eventually land upon. What we tried to outrun would eventually catch up with us and what we tried to sidestep was still there when we got back on route." When we practised being present, we became more aware of the blockages that have already been there. We learned to embrace the pain as a message that something needs to shift, and oftentimes that message was to spend less time in the stratosphere and more time present with - and in - our physical body.

Affirmation: I stay present to what already exists in this moment both within me and outside of me.

6. We Honor the Body


What is the best diet for an HSP? We hear so many conflicting reports and studies on nutrition and very few if any for HSPs in particular. General population studies - even scientific ones - are by nature difficult to apply to all persons because the laws of quantum physics tell us that our thoughts affect energies, creating unconscious biases to just about everything. So how do we know what’s best for us?  

This is one of the ways where being an HSP is so awesome! We can feel pretty quickly what foods work for us and which ones don’t. We recognize that food has an energetic vibration, just like people, and to ingest higher-vibration foods raises our vibration in turn.

An organic carrot will vibrate higher than a packaged sugar- and chemical-laden snack food. Tempeh will vibrate higher than the cooked flesh of an abused, chemically saturated animal. Our bodies react to the sadness of these animals, but because most eateries and even the home environment are filled with distraction, most people are unable to consciously feel the effects that foods have on us in the moment. But how can we not be affected by the conditions of the animal before and during slaughter? On a purely physical level, their care - or lack thereof - produces stress chemicals that saturate their bodies. Similar to how eating something laced with pesticides carries the energy of death, the ingestion of stressed animal parts and/or their by-products will negatively affect us, too. Because of this, HSPs are often best suited to organic, vegan, non-GMO, non-processed and in the USA, gluten-free food, whenever possible.


Beyond the well-known benefits of exercise, for HSPs it’s an opportunity to get us back into our body - the vessel for us to do our work. It’s wonderful if you can channel Archangels from the 13th dimension. It’s great if you can meditate for hours or contemplate the nature of reality in your home, but if you don’t get out and share the benefits of your gift with others it’s a waste of a gift. You don’t light a lamp to submerge it under water; you put it on a table to light up the room. Happy and Healthy Highly Sensitive Persons know that as we let our own light shine, to paraphrase Marianne Williamson, "we give permission to others to shine their light as well."

But we can’t do any of that if we’re bedridden.

I recommend movements that are more grounding and incorporate a full range of motion rather than what’s more traditionally linear. For example, common methods of strengthening the forearm are through wrist flexion and extension with resistance, but that should be expanded to include pronation, supination, and rotation as practised in Tai Chi. Full range of motion exercises are very important to keep us limber, and in reference to the wrist and forearm can help prevent what is commonly called carpal tunnel syndrome. Our bodies tend to respond better to Yoga, Qigong, dance and various low-impact sports and aerobic activities. When done with the intention of increased body awareness, these movements can become a meditative exercise in honoring our physical bodies.

Affirmation: I love the vessel of my spirit. It is a gift and I vow to take care of it.

What About The Next 5 Habits?!?! 

Stay Tuned!


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About Dave Markowitz

Dave Markowitz is a two-time best-selling author, intuitive healing facilitator and guide for Empaths and Highly Sensitive Persons. His work has been endorsed by Shirley MacLaine, Lynn Andrews, Lee Harris, Dannion and Kathryn Brinkley, Karen McPhee, Dr. Meg Blackburn Losey and more. He’s shared the lecture bill with Deepak Chopra and Gary Null and has worked with thousands of empaths and highly sensitive persons (HSPs) since his “empathic awakening” in 2012. To find out more about Dave, check out

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