Optimistic people are not only happier than their negative counterparts, they’re also more successful, too. If your thoughts tend to skew negatively, there’s hope. According to positive psychologist, Shawn Achor, it’s possible to defeat genetics and environment and train the brain to think positively. As with anything worthwhile, it takes time to create the habit and get results. However, if you practice one of these exercises every day for at least 21 days, you’re sure to start thinking more optimistically, which is essential for lasting, long-term happiness and success.
1. Write down what you’re grateful for. Happy and successful people are thankful for what they have. Being thankful makes them more satisfied with their lives—they’re not focused on what they don’t have. In order to take stock in your life, write down three things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days. Be specific in what you write. If you’re grateful for your kids, write what specifically you’re grateful for. Perhaps your son made his bed this morning on his own instead of you having to tell him ten times. Or maybe the sight of your daughter’s smile when you picked her up from school brought a smile to your face. Whatever it is, write it down and be specific.
2. Think of a meaningful experience. Our days are filled with little experiences that can make or break our days. In the last 24 hours, write down a meaningful experience that occurred. Some days you may have to think harder than others, but there are surely experiences that are worth detailing. Take a few minutes to write down every detail in a journal, and do this for 21 days. According to Shawn Achor, when you write about meaningful experiences, your brain notices a pattern and you begin to realize that life is pretty sweet. This helps you to reduce stress and depression, and will make you feel happier.
3. Get active. It’s no secret that cardio does wonders for your heart, but it’s also has anti-depressant properties, too. Exercise causes your brain to release the feel-good chemical dopamine. This is why you feel super charged and ready to take on the world after a good workout. Fifteen minutes of fun cardio is sure to make you happier, and turning it into a daily habit will help you to change your overall way of thinking.
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4. Meditate. Now, before you say, “I’m way too busy for that,” try this 2 minute exercise every day for 21 days: Take your hands off of your keyboard and just focus on your breath for two minutes. That’s all; just two minutes of meditation a day can help you to refocus your mind and think happy.
5. Write a kind email. Although any act of kindness will do, taking two minutes to write a nice email to someone to praise them for a job well-done or thank them for something nice they did for you can give you a surge of happiness. Do it a few days in a row—like 21 days—and it’ll become a habit that will also make you feel happier.
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