Positive Psychology techniques have been shown to combat depressed and anxious feelings nearly as well as—and sometimes even better than—antidepressant medications.
Here are four positive power techniques that have proven effective for many people:
Three Good Things
The Three Good Things practice involves making note of three positive things from your day. This practice shifts the brain’s negative bias for survival, so instead of ruminating about things that went wrong during your day, you actively seek the things that went right. Some days you might have trouble coming up with even one good thing, but persevere, even if you write “the sun came out, I got to leave work on time, and my lunch was tasty.” Other days it might be hard to narrow it down from several good happenings.
Choose your favorite three from the week, the month, the quarter, the year and write these down, too. It’s a great way to focus your priorities and learn what will make you happiest in the long run.
Capture Your First Moments
With this technique, you focus on and “capture” your first moments each day. First, choose an affirming thought before you go to bed. When you wake up in the morning, repeat this thought as you get out of bed and start your day. Choose your first actions consciously, too. Take a few minutes to sit and plan your day, meditate and determine a positive focus for the day. This primes our brain for inspiration, positivity and focus. By grabbing those first moments, you can start a positive cascade that will overflow into your whole day.
Move Your Mood
Try “moving your mood” by exercising at least 10 minutes vigorously. When you are angry, sad or anxious and you cannot move past your emotions, exercise is one of the most effective quick fixes. By getting your blood and oxygen flowing, you can shift your mood quickly from the stuck energy of negative feelings. After just 10 minutes, most people find their emotions are much calmer. The problem has not gone away, but now you are better able to determine a good course of action without the intense feelings that were preventing a productive response.
Cultivate a Feeling of Awe
Most happiness research is now suggesting people feel best when they are not overly focused on themselves or, ironically, on happiness. Altruism, it turns out, makes us happiest. Look beyond your daily life and contemplate your connection to the rest of humanity, something bigger and greater than you. What is your purpose? What small thing can you contribute to the world? What random act of kindness can you do today? Asking yourself questions like these can remind you of a deeper meaning to your daily life, and make you happier at the same time.
These positive actions are like priming a pump on a well; there may be a delay between when you start pumping and when the water makes it to the surface. If you don’t get immediate results, keep pumping; soon you will be rewarded with improved energy, a lighter mood and a brighter outlook on life.
Jeanne Strauss is a therapist in San Antonio working with individuals and couples. She has been a licensed clinical social worker for 25 years, specializing in anxiety, stress, personal development, couples counseling, communication and resolving negative relationship patterns. She can be reached at 210-787-6384 or www.jeannestrauss.com.