Each of us has a set of messages that play over and over in our minds. This internal dialogue, or personal commentary, influences our words, actions, habits, relationships and ultimately, in the words of Lao Tzu, the destiny of our lives.
One of the quickest ways to shift your focus away from negativity, judgment, and disappointment is to list the things in your life for which you are grateful. How to be Happy with Yourself be grateful to be gainfully employed, to sleep in a bed each night, for the sun that comes up each morning, for the waiter who greets you with a smile, for the people that love and care for you, and for a body that lets you experience life each day.
Two Steps Forward
Initially, it might be hard to stop the negative flow of thoughts. This shift takes time. Be patient with yourself, and first just try to observe your thought patterns. See if you can catch yourself judging others, focusing on failures, complaining about work, or criticizing yourself or your body.
The mind and the body have an intrinsic connection—each has a profound impact on the other. If you are struggling to move your mind into a more positive perspective, try moving your body there first. Try standing up straight, shoulders back, chin held high, stretching your arms out as wide as they can go. Feel powerful. Feel positive.
Another way for your body to “trick” your mind into being more positive is through smiling. The simple act of smiling, even if you don’t necessarily have anything to smile about, can instantly change the way you feel internally. Whether you are sitting at your desk, driving in your car, or walking down the street, smile.
Reframe or divert
Reframing the situation involves looking for opportunity instead of ruminating on the loss. “When you’re going through something problematic, ask yourself, ‘What potential things could I gain from this?’” Lightman recommends. For example, people going through difficult breakups may find that they’ll gain the time to understand themselves. How to be Happy with Yourself a rejection from graduate school may lead to a beneficial year of work experience in order to better prepare for higher education down the line, says Lightman.
Savor the good
We’re really good at dwelling on the not-so-great, Davis says. But when we experience something positive — like a compliment from a friend or a beautiful day outside — we tend to let it pass without even noticing. Savoring or holding onto those pleasant moments and thinking, Wow, this is really great can actually strengthen positive emotions, she explains.
You wouldn’t expect yourself to remember important tasks without writing them down on your to-do list, would you? Well, the same is true about positivity, says Davis. Write yourself a message on a sticky note and attach it to your computer screen at work, Lightman says. to be Happy with Yourself You might write down an inspirational quote you like, a reminder to smile or something you have to be thankful for. Small reminders help keep positivity front and center in your life, she says.
Do something nice for someone else
One of the fastest, most effective ways to feel happier is to show someone kindness, according to Davis. “In America, we’re so individualistic, that we think, ‘Oh I have this problem, I should focus on me and fix me,’” says Davis. “But really, the more we focus on other people, the more effective we are in terms of positivity.” In a 2017 study by Oxford University, researchers found that performing acts of kindness for just seven days had a measurable, positive effect on well-being and positive social emotion.
Phone a friend
Optimists are also more likely than pessimists to use their support networks. “An optimistic thinker is more likely to say, ‘This is hard. Who do I need to call? What help do I need?’” Reivich explains. Negative thinkers tend to isolate themselves in tough situations, she says, which can breed more negative thoughts.
Thinking about what you’re grateful for can instantly improve your mood, and as you begin to make gratitude a habit, you’ll see lasting benefits, Davis says.
Being grateful for the lessons learned in a negative situation, in spite of what led you to the lessons, will help you walk away from negative experiences with something gained. “If you don’t fall, you can’t learn to get back up,” Lightman says.
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