You can read all the anxiety advice in the world, but none of it matters unless you take action. To feel better you have to ruthlessly focus your efforts on those things that reduce your anxiety, and increase positive emotions, and stop doing the things that keep you down, tense, and awake at night.
Today I’m going to make it easier for you to feel happier. Your part is to set aside at least 5-60 minutes per day to tackle one of the steps below.
The more tasks you complete, the more progress you’ll make.
You’ve probably already familiar with some of these exercises, but if you’re still feeling unhappy, indecisive and irritable, I guarantee you haven’t done all of them.
I’m a huge fan of Positive Psychology, and the work of Dr. Martin Seligman. Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and positive traits that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to accentuate their positive traits, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.
Positive Psychology emphasizes gratitude, and this is especially important if you're raising children. Research on teens shows that giving back boosts positive emotions, mental health, life satisfaction, and increases their motivation to use their positive strengths to contribute society.
Here's to improving your happiness, and paying it forward to service others.
Action #1: Know that Life Hurts, but Happiness is the Cure
Happy and unhappy people have the same pain and trauma. The difference is happy people possess a disposition which helps them bounce back very quickly. When you cultivate a happier attitude, you become less dependent on external sources of validation, and trust your thoughts, emotions and behaviors.
The following 5 facts highlight happiness as a key factor in reducing anxiety:
Don’t wait to start your attitude adjustment. The sooner you do this, the faster you’ll develop the motivation to change your anxious ways. Writing #1 took me 30 seconds, and now I’ll feel better for the rest of the day!
Action #2: Start a Gratitude Journal
When we ruminate about negatives events, we lose perspective. Keep a simple journal of what you’re grateful for, and write three things daily at least twice per week. Refer to your journal when you feel down.
Action #3: Add the Gratitude Diary
When you understand why you see the world the way you do, you’ll begin to see that you have complete control over your emotions. The Gratitude Diary is more in-depth than the Gratitude Journal and highlights how you got from a negative thought to a more positive one.
Let’s face it, most of us are experts in finding negative situations. But do you know how you make the transition from a bad mood to a good one? Each day, write 3–5 things that you liked.
Then write one thing that you didn’t like.
After repeating this daily, you’ll begin to see your negative thought patterns. Instead of ruminating on what’s not going right, you can re-focus your mental energy on doing things differently.
Action #4: Practice Optimism
Establish a personal goal with the “goal” of tracking your progress, and not necessarily the finish line. When you master the attitude of optimism, you understand that good things are coming, and that the bad things pass quickly and can be ignored. For example, you want to increase your comfort level when going out in public because you are overly self-conscious around others. Try the following exercise to test the “negative event.”
Action #5: Write Your Future Diary
When you see yourself as capable of solving problems, you’re more likely to find ways to actually solve your problems. Write about your preferred future. What will it look like? How will others respond to you in this positive future? What will you feel? How will your life change? How will your positive future benefit others?
Action #6: Savoring
Savoring positive experiences makes us appreciate the simple pleasures of life. When we take time to go slowly, our senses are sharper and we are mindful of what’s happening around us.
Choose a daily ritual. If walking your dog is normally a routine that you find boring, change your mindset and allow your mind to notice the sights, smells and physical sensations around you. If you savor one experience each day, you will soon develop a nice habit.
Action #7: Count Kindness Gestures
Keep a log of all the kind acts that you do in a particular day. Jot them down by the end of each day. These don’t have to be grand, and can be as simple as holding the door open for someone, or smiling at strangers.
Action #8: Record Three Funny Things
Write down the three funniest things that you experienced each day; also write about why the funny thing happened (e.g., was it something you created, something you observed, or something spontaneous?)
Action #9: “Gift” Your Time
Offer the “gift” of your time to three different people this week. This might be in the form of time spent, helping someone around their house, or sharing a meal with someone who is lonely.
Action #10: Gratitude Visit
I thought it apropos to end where we started…with gratitude!
The increase in moods could benefit you and them for up to six weeks!
The key is consistency. You don’t have to do everything on this list, just pick the ones that work best for you.
Remember, action is where it's at!
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