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Pursuit of Happiness: Transform Your Negative Thoughts and Feelings

bigstock-Beautiful-Young-Woman-Outdoors-45653104Positive psychology addresses important questions about how we lead our lives, find happiness, experience satisfaction, and deal with life’s challenges. Over the past decade researchers and practitioners from around the world have studied happiness and wellbeing. As a result a variety of techniques and practices have evolved that offer more than simply some relief from depression, anxiety, and stress. These are proven ways to be more positive and joyful in life with long-term and significant benefits.

We have a choice at every moment; we don’t have a choice about what happens but we do have a choice about what we are going to do about it. Depressive thoughts are magnets for other depressive thoughts. It takes 3 positive feelings to overcome a negative thought. So how do we begin to transform our negative thoughts into positive thoughts and feelings?

Gratitude has the power to walk time. Yesterday was yesterday. Our memory is an image that comes from the original so when we look at it and highlight the good it changes the memory. It doesn’t distort it but rather it highlights it.

How do we begin to look at every day with a sense of gratitude? Try ending each day by writing a few lines of gratitude. Here are some ideas to help you get started. What things did you have success in or made progress with today? What did you do that was a positive choice consistent with who you want to become? What did you learn about yourself today? What did actions did you do that take you closer to your goals? What about things to be grateful for and what did you do for self-care?

Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel Prize winning psychologist studying how people chose to be happy. He has proposed that humans have two versions of themselves: the experiential self and the remembering self. Though our remembering selves tend to dominate, there can be great benefits in nurturing our experiential self, for recognizing and appreciating the many moments that make up a day. By Kahneman’s calculation, a moment is about 3 seconds. Given that our lives are nothing more than a string of moments coming one after another, the average person has about 20,000 moments in the course of a day. Think back on your day yesterday. How many of your 20,000 moments do you remember? Odds are, it’s not very many. We tend to rush through our lives without thinking.

An “attitude of gratitude” may be a cliché that some automatically disregard, but I have watched clients keep a gratitude journal for 30 days and witnessed the difference it makes in how they frame their thinking.   Positive psychology teaches that there are three magic bullets for depression: gratitude, meditation, and exercise.   For severe depression these are valuable enhancements to traditional therapy and medication. I would be happy to send you a template for a Gratitude Journal, just email your request to me at bresourceful@earthlink.net.  The first few days it may be difficult to answer all the questions in the Gratitude Journal Plan but with each passing day it gets easier as you begin to replace your negative thoughts with thoughts of gratitude. After all, 20,000 moments each day equals 20,000 opportunities!


Bonnie Harken NCLC, Founder and CEO, of Crossroads Programs for Women has spent the last 30 years assisting individuals begin their journey of healing. Look for upcoming programs at Crossroads Programs for Women. Begin your journey of finding renewal, hope, joy, direction and passion. Each program is a blend of lectures, group discussion, and therapeutic exercises offering a healing curriculum. We explore the spiritual components of healing from a non-denominational Christian perspective. Why continue to struggle? Tomorrow does not have to be like today. We can help you. Visit http://www.crossroadsprogramsforwomen.com or call 1-800-348-0937.  All calls are confidential and there is no obligation.