It’s perfectly normal to feel down and out sometimes, especially during these long and dark winter days. But when your negative thoughts and attitude begin to hinder your productivity, personal relationships and overall happiness, it is time to kick positive thinking into high gear.
Fake it until you make it
If you simply do not feel happy, then fake it. It is possible to rewire your thought processes and render optimism your default mindset. Recent research has shown that “focused, repetitive mental activity can affect changes in your brain’s structure, wiring, and capabilities.”1 And why wouldn’t you want to be an optimist? Thinking positively promotes serotonin production in the brain and creates a sense of well-being.
Keep a gratitude journal
In order to focus your mind on the positives, set out to identify three to five things for which you are grateful every single day. Be specific and identify particular events from the day rather than focus on more general facts (e.g., I am grateful for my family). This way, you will look for the good within each day instead of getting stuck on the bad.
If stress is causing your sour mood, attack the problem head-on. Identify the source of your burden and eliminate it. If you cannot completely eliminate it, find a way to manage it. Take up yoga, go for a walk, get to bed early, or make time with friends. Do whatever you need to do to put yourself first and prioritize your wellness.
Laugh more often
The simplest stress-buster is laughter. The great thing about laughter is that there is no right way to do it, as long as you are doing it. William Fry, a psychiatrist whose career spanned more than 50 years, found that “laughter increases circulation, stimulates the immune system, exercises the muscles, and even invigorates the brain.” 2
So make the choice to be happy. It is not as hard as it looks.