You're having one of those days where nothing is going right — you're late for work, your computer crashed, you spilled coffee on your brand-new shirt. By the end of the day, you find yourself collapsed zombie-like in front of the television, asking yourself "Where is my life going? Where did I go wrong?" Indeed, a simple shift in attitude at some point during your waking hours could have turned your day around. But how do you do it? Set realistic, achievable goals, suggests Stephanie Marston, Ph.D., a family therapist in Santa Fe. Start with small things to improve your attitude and well-being.
1. Take a friend to lunch
Not only will you get a nice visit with a friend you care about, but the act of generosity will likely boost your spirits.
2. Listen to your favorite song
Music can decrease anxiety experienced by patients before surgery, according to a study in the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia. If tunes can calm pre-op jitters, surely they can help you find your zen place.
3. Discover your inner extrovert
Fake it till you make it, advise the experts. "Merely actingextroverted will make you feel happier," says William Fleeson, Ph.D., a psychology professor who studies happiness at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Fleeson suggests acting assertive, bold, adventurous and talkative to practice being an extrovert.
4. Take a ten minute pause
Give yourself ten minutes out of every day to reconnect with yourself, suggests Marston. "We live in a fast-paced culture where we're all moving at warp speed with ridiculous to-do lists," she says. If we take time to be quiet, we can get in touch with our values and priorities. "With some adjustments and time, soon our outer life will be matching up with our inner life."
5. Count your blessings and be grateful
People with a more grateful outlook on life tend to exhibit a heightened state of well being, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Researchers concluded that "gratitude is linked with positive emotions including contentment, happiness and hope." At some point during the day, make a simple list of five or ten things that you are grateful for in your life.
6. Shake off anything negative holding you down
Try not to take things personally. Instead, develop the habit of looking at other people's actions as just the way they are and less of a personal statement about you. Keep in mind that you can't make another person change but you can change your own thoughts.
Cultivate your spiritual side. This could mean checking out some meditation classes (often yoga studios are a good source), exploring the local religious centers in your neighborhood or asking a friend to recommend a good spiritual book.
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