Yes, being happier is a choice, but it rarely feels that simple. No one's life is remotely close to perfect (even if it it looks that way from the outside), so when negative thoughts start to creep in here's how to send them packing and get back on track for positive thinking:
1) Surround yourself with positive people: Hang out with a bunch of Debbie Downers and they'll be sure to pull you down to their level. Dr. Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, researchers at Harvard and University of San Diego respectively (Dr. Christakis is now at Yale), found that each additional happy friend increases a person's probability of being happy by about 9%.
2) Write it down: Grab a pen and list 3 things you're grateful for right now. And yes, there will be days when you're resorting to "running water" which 100% totally counts. Research tells us that people who write down 3 positive things each day are more optimistic, less stressed AND they sleep better.
3) Put it in perspective: We've all had some pivotal, life-changing stressful stuff to deal with at some point. Think back on what your big "life event" was and when the little things start weighing you down, remember that huge thing you survived. Whatever (relatively) small stuff you're going through now will instantly be put in perspective and feel manageable.
4) Read positive quotes: Place your favorites in easy-to-view locations like your computer monitor, bathroom mirror, and fridge. They'll be constant reminders of the good and keep you from focusing too heavily on the bad. Not sure where to start? How about here, here and here!
5) Get over it: Remind yourself that no one is perfect, do NOT compare yourself to others, and move forward. Make like the "Frozen" soundtrack and: Let. It. Go.
6) Help someone: The quickest way to feel better yourself is to help someone else. And it doesn't have to be financially. Want ideas? We've got lots!
7) Change your tone: When we're in the downward spiral of negativity it can be really hard to reverse direction but try this. Instead of saying, "Wow, it totally sucks that I got a parking ticket!" Try: "Well, a parking ticket was not what I needed today, or any day for that matter, but at least I didn't get my car towed." It's all about focusing on the positive and finding a silver lining.
8) Smile: Yep, studies have shown that even fake smiling totally counts.
9) Go outside: It's amazing what a little bit of vitamin D can do for your outlook on life. For a bonus boost, go for a 20-minute walk. The combination of fresh air plus exercise is a powerful natural antidepressant.
10) Repeat your mantra: First you need one. And it doesn't always have to be the same one -- whatever speaks to you on whatever day you're saying it! Simple is good and here are a few (dozen) examples to get you started.
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