If Negative Nancy is your all-too-frequent nickname, try these strategies for turning that frown upside down. You’ll feel better—and so will the people around you.
Spend 10 minutes before bedtime writing down three positive outcomes from the day, along with reasons the endeavors were successful. It’s hard to overcome the instinct to focus on negativity (after all, the humans who survived were the ones who saw trouble coming!). But instead of obsessing about what isn’t perfect, focus on what’s going right—and savor it.
When you’re trying something new to improve your life, share your achievements with a friend—or a supportive group. Your partner or support network can provide advice and reinforce good behavior. For example, if you’re committed to moving more, you might join an online community committed to walking a certain number of steps each day. Then, when you find yourself slightly short of your goal, you might walk more because you know your friends will ask for an update.
Most of us possess a few deeply held beliefs that lead to overreaction in response to daily incidents. Are you always making the same mistakes? Do you experience extreme emotions about things that should be no big deal? You may want to delve into your history to see what’s simmering underneath the surface. Since this can be hard to do on your own, consider enlisting help from good friends or a therapist, particularly if your personal life is complicated or difficult.
Often, we are at the bottom of our energy cycle—tired, grumpy, inattentive and pessimistic—at midafternoon. Recharge yourself by changing up your routine. Stand up and stretch, do jumping jacks, take a brisk walk or, yes, even dance; vigorous movement refreshes your mind and wards off fatigue.
Practice responding constructively in your daily interactions. Being perceived as a positive person will improve relationships in your family and beyond. People tend to like you more when you make them feel good. And doesn’t that feel great?