Sally Connolly, LCSW, LMFT has been a therapist for over 30 years, specializing in work with couples, families and relationships. She has expertise with clients
Have you noticed that when you are in a good mood, most of what you see seems good and positive while when you are in a bad mood, you only see what is not going well.
Depression causes and/or is caused by negative thinking and happiness is caused by and/or causes positive thinking.
Feeling unsatisfied about a relationship often causes people to only see the negative in their partner and overlook the good.
Feeling unhappy with ones’ self often causes people to notice all of the negative things about their body, personality, friendships, etc.
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You can change what you look for by practicing these habits.
1. Look for what you want to see. Think about what you want in your life and in your relationships and look for signs, even if they are small signs, of those positive or good things. Acknowledge and appreciate them.
2. Change the way that you name things. Look for ways to rename events or experiences that might have a negative connotation.
Give them names or meaning that are, at least slightly, more positive. A mistake can become a learning experience. A hurtful gesture by another might really be that he or she is having a bad day. Spilled milk might become an opportunity to sit down while cleaning or be a teaching experience for a child.
3. Let go of worry about the causes for problems. You can spin your wheels and waste a lot of time wondering about the root causes for problems. Sometimes that might be helpful. Often it is not. Try first to look for a solution rather than to worry about the reasons. Notice the results.
If you are unhappy with your lack of motivation, it might be helpful to spend time thinking about why you are having trouble getting going; however, it is much more likely that it will be time and energy better spent figuring out where you want to go and what small steps you can take toward that goal.
4. Ask yourself questions that look forward and are more positive. How would I like to see things different in my life? What would I be doing if I were in a happier place now? If I were giving advice to a friend about my situation, what would I suggest to him or her? What are the good things about my life? My spouse? Myself right now?
5. Think about what is possible rather than what is impossible. You might never be able to afford that nice car or house that your sister has. You may never be able to run a 2 minute mile or cook like Julia Child, however, there are things that you can do that are special and important. There are also things that you can reach for that are possible and maybe even probable. Be realistic and set small steps toward where you want to go.
Look for the positives that are already there in your life, not the negatives. Look for the potential and dream for the future. Move toward life rather than backing away. Work through things rather than stay stuck.
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