Feeling depressed or disappointed? Drowning in negative thoughts? Before drugs, try these simple strategies.

Does this ever happen to you?

You have one slightly negative thought, “I’m short of cash this week”.

This leads to another negative thought … “It’s because I’m underpaid at work“… and another … “and I’m underappreciated at home” … followed by … “tonight I’ll have to cook dinner, why can’t my stupid husband get off his backside, my mother always told me I was making a big mistake and now I’ve got a headache, maybe it’s a tumour!”

Negative thoughts are like rats.  One shows up and before you know it they have taken over.

You can beat negative thoughts. Here’s how:

1. When Things Go Wrong: ASK YOURSELF, “WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THIS?”

There is an up-side to every situation.5 Tips to Eliminate Negative Thoughts cartoon

EXAMPLE: You are drowning in debt. You say, “What can possibly be good about being broke?”

  • you develop character and determination
  • you learn how to budget
  • you discover who your friends are.

EXAMPLE: You break your leg. You ask, “What’s good about this?”

  • you get to rest
  • you learn to empathise with sick people
  • you get to read some great books.

Now you might say, “Let’s be realistic. Some disasters have NO upside!” HERE’S REALISTIC:

  • Lousy things happen.
  • Happy people have the habit of saying, “What’s good about this?” It’s how you stop negative thoughts in their tracks.

When things go wrong, find an upside.

2. When You Are Sad or Grieving: GET INTO NATURE

When life hurts, nature heals.

Ocean breezes and peaceful forests restore us in ways that stinky pubs and shopping malls and bad TV never can. Walk on the beach or in the bush, sit in a park or a garden. You’ll think better thoughts. There’s nothing to figure out, it just happens.

Get into nature. Make it a habit.

3. When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed: GET RID OF THE JUNK

You suffer more stress when you are surrounded by junk – psychological tests prove it.

You feel more in control in a TIDY office. You feel more peaceful in a CLEAN house. It’s one reason why we love to stay in nice hotels – it is such a joy to check into a clean room and not to be surrounded by piles of old clothes and handbags and last week’s newspapers.

Are you too stressed to tidy your whole bedroom? Tidy one drawer today and another tomorrow. Need to organize your office?  Do just one shelf today. You’ll feel better.

Better to live in a one room studio that is clean than in a mansion that is a mess!

4. When Negative People Are Driving You Nuts: GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!

Are you surrounded by people who whinge about the weather, the government, the price of petrol and their haemorrhoid operations? Whingers will drag you down! Soon enough, you start to think like they think. You start to gripe like they gripe. Negative becomes normal.

What can you do? Spend time with happy people, somehow. If you have only one happy friend, visit him more often. If you don’t know any motivated people, find some. Join a cycling group, a dance class, a church group, a laughing yoga group, a charity.

Get regular breaks from negative people. And in the long term?  You might want to change where you live and work!

5. Anytime: DO SOME EXERCISE

Any exercise makes you happier. You don’t have to run. Walk, bounce, swim, dance. Movement produces happy chemicals in your brain. You know this already.

Fred says, “I’ll exercise WHEN I feel better.” NO Fred! Exercise is HOW you feel better.

It’s not what happens to you that matters most, it’s how you think about what happens to you.
5 Tips for More Peace of Mind

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Author: Andrew Matthews

Andrew Matthews empowers audiences in 25 countries to enjoy their life and work. Andrew’s books, including “Being Happy!” and “Follow Your Heart”, have sold over 7 million copies in 43 languages.