|Happy and unhappy people see the world differently. When things are uncertain, unhappy people tend to take a negative view. For example, if they aren’t sure why someone is being nice, they assume that person has a hidden agenda. Happy people see the same situation and think positive: if someone is acting nice, they’re probably just being nice.
Looking for the bad can be useful. It can protect you from danger. However, always being negative means constant stress. Studies show that positive people live longer and happier lives than people with negative world views. Positive people even recover from colds faster.
How do you see the world? How would you like to see the world?
Next time you are faced with uncertainty, notice how you react. Do you assume the best? The worst? Something in between? If you automatically think negatively, pause to challenge that thought. Come up with at least one positive alternative. Try it!
Your heart beats. Your lungs breathe. Your mind thinks.
Your mind generates thousands of thoughts every day—it’s its job. But are they all true? Are they all worth listening to? Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches you how to have a conversation with your thoughts. You can get the skills to take a step back and be more critical of them.
One tool on this journey is learning to label and avoid unhelpful thinking styles. These include over-generalizing (“I always mess things up”) and black-or-white thinking (“If I don’t win, then I’m a total loser”). You’d be surprised at how much these types of thoughts can impact your mood.
You can find a step-by-step activity for labeling your thoughts in either the Anxiety or Depression programs. Thought labeling is very effective for those challenges. At the same time, it’s a super helpful skill even if you aren’t feeling anxious or blue! You likely have dreams about what your life should be. But of course, many times things don’t work out the way you plan. You’ll have good times. And then you’ll face challenging ones. But you don’t have to view them as terrible. Why? Because you can handle them and even be happy in spite of them.
“It’s not the bad things that upset you—it’s your view of them. Feeling bad comes from demanding that something turn out a certain way!”
A demand says, ‘I have to have something, or to have something turn out a certain way, and it’s terrible and I’m no good if I don’t have it.’ ”
It may seem impossible to control the kinds of thoughts you have. When something bad happens, negative thoughts flood your mind. You may feel swept away!
The below steps can help you learn to calm the flood. Below are 4 tricks I find helpful for negative thoughts.
- Declare it Done – Stop the cycle of negativity by giving yourself a direct order. Saying “STOP” out loud can be very powerful.
- Change it Up – Distract yourself with an activity that takes focus. Clip coupons, mow the lawn, go for a walk, make a shopping list….
- Swap it Out – Replace each negative thought with two positive ones.
- Write it Down – This works well for worries. With the worry on paper, you are free to “toss it” from your mind.
In light of this, I’d like to share one of my favorite quotes:
“To embark on the journey towards your goals and dreams requires bravery.
To remain on that path requires courage.
The bridge that merges the two is commitment.”
– Dr. Steve Marabolic
So daughters remember change is a process. It takes dedication and courage.