happiness

Why Learn Positive Thinking?

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Tree

Take a deep breath and look around you.  Name a few of the wonderful things about this day.  Is it the weather? A conversation with a friend? A delicious meal?  Giving thanks for the goodness in our lives is a great way to start on the path to more positive thinking.   If you need some help getting motivated to begin practicing the art of optimism, here are some things to think about:

  1. When practiced regularly, positive thinking changes the neural pathways in the brain reducing depression and autonomic pessimism, and increasing happiness.
  2. Increasing a non-judgmental stance improves one’s ability to grow and take responsibility for mistakes without feeling the added weight of stress, pressure or shame.
  3. Improved confidence.
  4. Less impacted by the stressors of life.
  5. More positive, connected relationships.
  6. Some research has shown that people approaching life with a positive attitude tend to find more meaning in life.
  7. Positive thinking often leads to a more pro-active approach to physical health and preventative measures for health.  Positive thinkers are more likely to engage in exercise programs and good nutrition.
  8. Improved immune system.  Whether it is due to the pro-active approach to physical health or the reduced stress, research has shown that positive thinking correlates to an improved immune system and greater disease tolerance.
  9. Greater life satisfaction.

So start by being thankful for the small things in life, such as a smile someone gave you or a beautiful day. See where those thoughts lead you in your life and the good things that follow.  Take an opportunity to change a negative thought into something positive—or take a non-judgmental approach to negative people or negative interactions.  There are opportunities in all that we do and ultimately we have choices every step of the way in how we choose to see things.

For more information on thankfulness, please visit: https://denvercounselingblog.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/thankful-list/

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC             http://www.thcounseling.com

 

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Living in the Present

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The mountains are calling and I must go. John Muir

Are you living in the moment or are you unaware of the moment because you are so focused on tomorrow, next week, next month or  next year?  It is easy to coast along on autopilot, lost in our thoughts or worrying about things that are yet to happen.  Nevertheless, truly living and enjoying our lives happens when we focus on the “now.”  Take a moment to look around and enjoy where you are in this moment.  What do you see, hear, smell, feel?  Who are you with?  What is happening?  Just enjoying the experience of the present can set the stage for a good day and a good mood.

Often when we get caught up in the future, we lose sight of the joy that is contained in just being thankful for the simple things in life.  There is nothing wrong with planning, but don’t let that become your life.  Your happiness depends on you living those plans and being mindful of them while they are coming to fruition.  If your mind is racing and you are having difficulty slowing it down, try this mindfulness exercise:

Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and think of the following:

Imagine yourself in your favorite location: a place where you feel safe, comfortable and content.  What do you see there? What do you feel.  Think of the sounds and smells that accompany that space.  Breathe that space in, and breathe it out.  Feel the warmth that envelops you.  Spend some time just breathing in and out and focusing on the safety and warmth of that location.  Once you have spent some time relaxing and decompressing, slowly open your eyes and be present to your “now”.

From time to time when life becomes too overwhelming, ask yourself if you are too scattered, too overwhelmed or too focused on things that have yet to come.  Taking some simple steps toward a more mindful approach can change your mood, your perspective and often the quality of your day.  Enjoy the now.

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC  http://www.thcounseling.com

 

Cultivating Hope

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English: Rainbow

 

 

Victor Frankl, a famous psychologist, said that suffering without meaning equates to despair.  So how do we find meaning in our experiences? Knowing how to find meaning in challenges is one of the hallmarks of having hope.  So what can be done to foster this important attribute?

  • Look for how you can take something positive away from each experience – be the experience a good one or a bad one.  Examine your past experiences, mishaps and challenges.  What have you learned from those experiences?  Maybe you haven’t even been aware of what you have learned, but by taking the time to give it some thought, you may find that you have taken some pearls from those experiences after all.
  • How have you applied those pearls of wisdom to subsequent challenges?  Are you utilizing the wisdom you have gleaned from hard times in other challenges that you face?  If not, try to make a conscious choice to do so.  Being aware of how your struggles have taught you something makes them feel more valuable.
  • Do you feel you have the ability to get out of bad situations?  If you are able to learn from your challenges and find a “take away” pearl, then remembering that may give you the optimism you need to know that you can survive future challenges as well.
  • Think about your successes.  What are they?  What strengths do you possess that helped you to accomplish those things? Realizing you already possess certain strengths can be a source of security and comfort when faced with challenges, or even just a bad day.
  • How have you improved over the years?  What qualities of your personality have evolved, and how?  Have those qualities been beneficial to you in your life and relationships?  Recognizing that you are dynamic, changing and growing can help you find more meaning in each experience.  Life is full of learning opportunities.

Feeling good about yourself is one of the keys to finding hope.  Knowing that you have strengths and capabilities can give you the optimism you need to find the silver lining in situations, particularly because you have done so in the past.  Remember that today you have learned something new and that tomorrow will be a new day in which to apply that knowledge.

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC    http://www.thcounseling.com

Improve Happiness by Discovering Your Strengths

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Happiness

It is easy to become consumed with the down side of situations and to lose site of the goodness and power within ourselves.  Nevertheless, recognizing that you have choices is a good starting point that can be truly empowering.  Even more important is discovering that you have used the power of choice before in ways that were healthy and successful, and sometimes when you didn’t even realize that was what you were doing.

Try thinking of a time when you were happy and proud of yourself.  Chances are it was a time when you made a good choice and tapped into one or more of your strengths.  Rather than focusing on times you didn’t feel good and trying to find motivation to do things differently, you will have more success and feel better along the way, by starting from a positive experience.  Build on your successes.  It takes practice, but by developing new habits for tackling life’s challenges, and focusing on the good inside of yourself, your overall sense of satisfaction and happiness in life can improve dramatically and you will not only heal, but learn to thrive.

Sunset at Porto Covo, west coast of Portugal
Sunset at Porto Covo, west coast of Portugal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are some practices to get you more in touch with the goodness within yourself:

  • Take a few minutes each day to relax, close your eyes, and bring to mind thoughts of warmth and love enveloping you.  Breathe that in and breathe out any negative thoughts or feelings.  Take those moments to appreciate the unconditional positive love that surrounds you.
  • At the end of each day, think of something that happened that day for which you were thankful.  Keep a list of those things so that you can look back on them. For more information on this practice, refer to my previous blog, Thankful List.
  • Think of times that you successfully navigated a situation or frustration.  What skills were you using?  What quality of your personality was working for you?  Try to apply that quality to future scenarios.
  • When you experience a negative feeling, challenge the belief behind it.  Are you making negative assumptions or leaping to conclusions? If you were to assume the very best instead of the worst, how would that change things?  How does that affect the way you feel?
  • Pay if forward.  Every day, make a kind gesture for someone else.  Open the door for someone, or buy coffee for someone else in the line.  Doing good things for others makes us feel good about ourselves, and could be the fuel for a fantastic day.

Recognize and celebrate your goodness.  Remember it when faced with an opportunity to make conscious choices about how to handle a difficult situation or feeling.  Doing so, is a great starting point that will help you to add to your repertoire of positive qualities and tools for achieving, happiness, success and thriving!

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC  http://www.thcounseling.com

The Art of Positive Thinking

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We have all had those days where we wake up on the wrong side of the bed and find fault with everything for no reason at all.   The weather is not what you had hoped, nothing sounds good for breakfast, you don’t want to work, you don’t want to stay home, your spouse is annoying you, etc.   On days like that, it feels you just can’t win. It is often said that what we put out into the world is what we get back in return.  So with a little effort and a few simple skills, maybe you can turn your mood around, or get some good feelings back as a return on your investment in the positive!

  • At the first sign of negative feelings, stop and take a few minutes to simply breathe.  Breathe in the good, breathe out the bad.
  • First thing in the morning, think of something for which you are thankful.  At the end of the day, do the same.
  • When you find yourself angry or frustrated about a situation, ask yourself how you can find meaning in it.  What is the opportunity in the problem?  What can you learn from it?
  • Remember that no matter what happens, be it a small dilemma or an unexpected disaster, you always have a choice in the way you handle it.
  • When feeling overwhelmed, try to take a step back and look at things more objectively.  Taking a different perspective can change things dramatically.
  • Smile at someone.  Most likely, they will smile back at you!
  • Have a sense of humor about some of life’s foibles.  They often make for good stories later.
  •  In every busy day, take a few moments to enjoy the world around you.  Notice the crisp, sparkling snow or the sound of a breeze, or even the smell of a freshly mowed lawn.  The world is full of simple pleasures if you choose to look for them.

Positive thinking is a choice, and it is a choice we are all free to make.  Give it a try to see how it creates good feelings for you and those around you.  Chances are, the good energy you put into it will be returned tenfold!

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC  http://www.thcounseling.com