Literature on how to lead a happier life is endless. We spend time poring over words on how to lead joyful existences -- and while there are certain hacks we can tap into in order to reach happiness -- the truth is, we're ultimately in charge of what we think (which in turn affects how we feel).
Choosing a more optimistic outlook isn't just an idealistic, fluffy approach to fulfillment -- research has shown that there is true power in positivity. Looking on the bright side can reduce your risk for heart problems, lower your cholesterol and undo the damaging effects of a stressful experience. But knowing it's good for you and practicing it are two entirely different concepts -- especially when our brains may naturally deflect to the negative.
If you're someone who tends to head in the pessimism direction (and who doesn't every now and then?), take a look at the suggestions below. Chances are we've all ruminated on these negative thoughts at some point, but now is the time to kiss them goodbye -- for good.
1. "I'm not ________ enough."
Fast enough, strong enough, talented enough -- whatever adjective goes in that blank (and sometimes it changes daily), we've all been guilty of thinking that we fall short of some sort of requirement. But as Marcia Reynolds, PsyD, explains, the truth is you are what you think -- so it's time to shift your brain from your shortcomings and focus on meaning instead. "Remember you are a human doing your best. Forgive yourself," she wrote in a Psychology Today blog. "Then find the work that helps you to feel valued so you have less time and energy to worry about being good enough."
2. "They're better than I am."
Theodore Roosevelt once said that "comparison is the thief of joy" -- and it couldn't be more true. Studies show when we're too hard on ourselves we actually decrease our goal completion. With a global population of approximately 7 billion, the hard reality is there is always going to be someone better -- but the good news is, that means you have exceptional talents that are special, too.
As psychotherapist and HuffPost blogger Daniela Tempesta suggests, instead of viewing others' "highlight reel" as a benchmark of your success, try reframing how you look at it. "If comparing is how you evaluate your worth, you will always be losing," she wrote. "In this game of life you will never reach a point where you are better than others in every way and why would you want to be. Part of what makes life awesome and interesting is learning from the talents of others. Instead of trying to be as good as or better than others, focus your energy on being the very best version of yourself."
3. "Can something just go right for once?"
We've all had those days -- the ones where coffee spills, shoes break and arguments rage. If you're having trouble finding the bright side of an otherwise dark day, try putting pen to paper. A study published in the Journal of Research in Personality found that participants who wrote down positive experiences boasted better mood levels and fewer visits to health clinics than those who did not. Reflecting on positive things in your day will put the good at the front of your mind, and soon you'll be noticing all the things that go right instead of everything that goes wrong.
This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.
GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.