Therapist-Approved Tips For Being A Happier Person
Therapist-Approved Tips For Being A Happier Person

Therapist-Approved Tips For Being A Happier Person

Whether you’re the type of person who always thinks the glass is half empty or someone who struggles to handle criticism at work, it’s not as difficult as it sounds to learn how to reframe your negative thoughts. Here, we asked three leading therapists for their tips on developing a more positive mindset…
By Tor West

Reframe How You See Positivity

“If you’d describe yourself as a negative person, or someone that always sees the bad side of things, it’s important to understand that being positive doesn’t translate to being happy and joyful all the time – that’s unrealistic. A better description of a positive person is someone who’s able to overcome setbacks and not get stuck in unhelpful emotions. They don’t necessarily face less negativity in their lives, they simply handle negativity with healthier coping strategies.” – Amy Launder, psychotherapist

Understand The Benefits

“Becoming a positive, optimistic person can improve the quality of your life and even increase your lifespan. Studies show optimists are more likely to have better physical health than pessimists, including a 50% lower risk of cardiovascular disease as well as higher survival rates when fighting cancer. It’s also been proven that optimists experience less stress than pessimists because they believe in themselves and their abilities to find solutions to their problems. Optimists see negative events as small setbacks they can easily overcome. Optimists also tend to take more risks, believing they can overcome any future setbacks, and tend to therefore create more positive events in their lives on the back of these risks.” – Amy 

Flip Your Thinking

“One of the things I teach my clients is something called ‘explanatory styles’. This refers to the way we explain, to ourselves, the things that happen in our lives. As an example, say two people are made redundant at the same time. The first believes: ‘I knew I was never any good at that job. I’ll never find work again, my life is over.’ They believe the redundancy was their fault, that it will last forever, and that it will impact their life. They are far more likely to get stuck in a downward spiral than the second person who believes: ‘The company was downsizing. It doesn’t mean I was bad at my job. I’ll find another job soon, and at least I still have my health, family and friends.’ This person is unlikely to get stuck in a negative place and is more likely to find work sooner, because they’ll be actively looking for opportunities.” – Amy 

Take Control Of Mondays

“We all get that Monday morning feeling, but it is possible to start your week on a more positive note. It can help to create a routine, or rituals within your routine, to make Mondays more enjoyable. If we don’t take control of our Mondays, they will be defined by the needs and demands of others – so take control where you can. Perhaps Monday could be the day you meet a friend on your lunch break to catch up, or it’s the day you treat yourself to a fancy coffee on the way to work, or you book your favourite yoga class after work. Take the control back and design a Monday you can look forward to.” – Amy 

Set Boundaries At Work

“If work is the area of your life that needs help when it comes to feeling more positive, start by setting boundaries. Regardless of whether you work in an office, from home, for a company or for yourself, no one else is going to set these boundaries for you. You working overtime is beneficial to your boss, so they're not going to tell you to stop. You need to be the one to call time when it's getting too much. Work out what your non-negotiables are and try your hardest to stick to them. For example, leaving the office for your lunch break, not working after a certain time, not working when you get home from the office, and not taking on projects that aren't in your job description. Depending on your job, your non-negotiables might look different – it’s about finding what works for you and communicating that clearly with your colleagues.” – Amy 

“Optimists see negative events as small setbacks they can EASILY OVERCOME.”

Build Resilience

“Building up your distress tolerance can be a great way to become more positive, optimistic and resilient. Distress tolerance is the ability to deal with emotional distress without feeling overwhelmed. Being able to tolerate distress can help us return to a state of equilibrium and even positivity when new stressors arise. Simple exercises to build distress tolerance include things like not getting your phone out when you're bored in the supermarket queue (learning to tolerate boredom) or blasting freezing water at the end of your shower and staying in longer each time (learning to tolerate physical discomfort).” – Amy 

Practise Grounding

“Grounding is when we use our senses to mentally and emotionally stay in the moment rather than letting our worries carry us away. Focus on the colours you can see, the sounds you can hear (a good tip is to focus on a sound far away and another that’s very close, alternating between the two) and feel the ground beneath your feet. This will keep you present so you can focus on finding a solution.” – Amy 

Find Your Why

“As humans, we struggle without meaningful purpose. Being positive and motivated is significantly harder without an overarching, value-based direction driving us. Some people desire a better life than they grew up with; some people value helping others; and others hope to place themselves in a position to provide for their family. Cueing into these meaningful driving forces can give you a fresh perspective on more difficult days.” – Jordan Vyas-Lee, psychotherapist & co-founder of Kove 


Let Go

“Learn to accept the state of things without trying to change them. When we relinquish the need to control a situation and understand there’s nothing we can do to change it, the pressure to fix things often subsides. Observe the situation, without emotion or judgement, and accept we aren’t omnipotent beings. Some things are outside of our control. This is a great one to practise when sitting in traffic, waiting for a delayed train, or stuck in a long queue. The same goes for accepting the things we can’t control, like what others say, what others do and how others feel. The more we try to control the things we can’t control, the more stressed we will feel. The more you are able to let these things go, the more you can free up your mental energy to focus on what you can influence.” – Amy 

Don’t Get Caught Up In Emotions

“Emotional agility – learning to see emotions as small pieces of information rather than things that take us over – is powerful. Normally, we tend to say something like, ‘I’m so angry.’ This tells us that the whole of us is angry. If we change the sentence to, ‘I am feeling angry,’ the anger starts to shrink. Go one step further and say, ‘I notice I am feeling angry,’ and the anger shrinks again. You can even say, ‘I notice I am experiencing the feeling of anger,’ and you’ll see the anger lose even more power. The wider you can make the gap between you and the emotion, the less power that emotion holds on you.” – Amy 

Focus On The Solution

“When we are feeling pessimistic, it can be tempting to dwell on the problem at hand rather than the solution. Dwelling on an obstacle is a waste of your energy. On the other hand, finding a solution to a problem or an opportunity in the difficulty can make you feel empowered and in control. Also remember that everything is impermanent – every good moment passes, but so does every bad moment.” – Ondine Smulders, psychotherapist

Actively looking for the positive isn’t something we typically do – TRY IT and see how it MAKES YOU FEEL.

Make Changes At Work

“We spend a significant amount of our lives at work, and if you don’t enjoy what you do, it can be tricky to be positive and a strong, resilient person. If you don’t enjoy the nature of your work, consider making a change. Being stuck in the wrong type of work is as bad as being stuck with a work bully. If you struggle with stress and anxiety at work, reality check everything. Does that email or comment really mean what you think it means? A good portion of our negative emotions come from us bending reality into hurtful meanings. Bad things do occasionally happen, but they’re rarer than we think, so checking your thought processes can help. Remember, happiness at work is key to happiness everywhere else, so don’t let things go unresolved.” – Jordan 

Show Warmth To Others

“Showing gratitude and kindness towards people you’d typically ignore breaks the daily grind and can go a long way to reframing your emotions – it could be the bus driver, the receptionist or an unknown work colleague. Saying hello to them or asking them a question immediately orients you to a more outward-looking and positive headspace.” – Jordan 

Notice The Small Things

“Once a week, take a moment to sit back and think of all the positive things that happened to you that week. It could be positive feedback someone gave you, a stranger smiling at you, a piece of work that went well, an unexpected phone call, or a stranger showing kindness. Actively looking for the positive isn’t something we typically do – try it and see how it makes you feel.” – Jordan  

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