It’s important to note that we’re not arguing that you should simply ‘turn that frown upside down’ because in reality there are a lot of real problems that we are all dealing with and simply ignoring negative emotions is not healthy. So if you’re feeling sad, angry, scared, hopeless, or anything else, that is absolutely OK, and you certainly shouldn’t beat yourself up for feeling that way.
However, what research has shown is that if we can interrupt automatic negative thoughts, assess their credibility, and then replace them with something more realistic (because negative thoughts are almost always lies) then we can begin to shift our mindset towards being more positive on the whole.
There are times when this will be more difficult than others. When things are trundling along OK, it’s fairly easy to focus on the positive and catch the negative thoughts when they sneak in. However, when it feels like one thing after the other is going wrong, holding onto that positive mindset becomes more challenging. This is where speaking to friends, family, or even a professional therapist can be useful, because sometimes just getting those worries off your chest can be a powerful step.
But even if you don’t have immediate access to others, you can still take action on your own. If you have written a gratitude journal, why not look back and remind yourself of things in your life worth celebrating. In fact, writing a list of things you’re grateful for, things that bring you joy, and little things that you can celebrate is a great practice in itself. Once written it becomes a wonderful resource to look back on.
And the beauty is that these things can be as big or small as you want – write about your loved ones, write about nature, or hobbies you love doing, write about happy events from the past or those coming up, catalogue all the foods you love to eat, chronicle some of the good news you’ve experienced, or make a note of shows/films/music that never fail to cheer you up.