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Top 7 Steps to Regain Your Optimism
By Susan Mallery
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Happiness is a choice, but it’s hard to choose happiness when the world around you is down in the dumps. The economy has affected our national mood, which affects each of us individually. Rather than decide to “be happy,” a goal so ambitious that it can feel impossible to achieve, make a resolution to take specific steps toward happiness. You need to retrain your brain to focus on the positive. By employing these seven strategies for just one month, you can regain your optimism.
- Read books with a satisfying ending.
Books are nourishment for your soul. So why would you feed your soul with books that poison your outlook on life? Find books that promise to have a satisfying ending, one that will have you turning that last page with a feeling of pleasure, rather than a twinge of anxiety on the characters’ behalf. Romance novels and cozy mysteries are excellent for this. By the end of the story, you know the good guy will triumph, whether romantically or otherwise. When you read books that you know will end well, you’re sending a message to your psyche that the world is a just place. And just because you know the story will end well, doesn’t mean it will be predictable. Every story’s road to the happy ending is unique, so there are plenty of surprises to be had.
I particularly recommend romance novels with a strong dose of humor. They’re just plain fun. The characters in my books face a lot of very serious issues, but they do it with a wry sense of humor that readers respond to. When a character finds humor in tragedy, she encourages us to do the same.
- Watch lighthearted TV shows and movies. Stay away from anything dark.
Remember when you were a child and your parents wouldn’t let you watch a certain TV show because it would give you nightmares? Well, you’re just as impressionable today, even if you don’t admit it. Everything you put into your brain impacts the way you view the world. If you must, record your favorite dark and depressing dramas, but don’t watch them during this month of cleansing.
- Refocus your attention onto positive stories when watching and reading the news.
If you can, avoid the news and the stock market reports. If your job requires that you stay current on what’s happening in the world, then of course you must. In that case, make a concerted effort to skim one upbeat and entertaining story after you’ve finished with all the stories that make you feel down. Read about the coolest inventions of the year, or the latest trends in bath remodeling, or which celebrity had plastic surgery. Anything that will perk you up and keep you from worrying about the state of the world.
- Rediscover something you loved as a child.
If you used to love making noodle necklaces, chances are good you’d enjoy beading today. If you thrived in gym class, you’d probably get a charge out of joining a local intramural sports league. Think back to what you loved in school. Were you fascinated in history class? Then make it a point to find out as much as you can about one moment in time. Play is a vital part of life, one that adults too often neglect. Think hard. Remember what you loved when you were a kid, and find a way to bring that into your life today.
- On purpose, visit a new place.
There is something invigorating about going somewhere new and different. I’m not talking necessarily about traveling somewhere exotic, although I’m all for that, too. This can be as simple as taking a walk along a path you’ve never seen, or going to a restaurant across town instead of your usual haunt. Try to go somewhere new at least once a week, and really pay attention to your surroundings.
- Connect with friends.
Life is busy, and it’s easy to allow months to go by without spending any quality time with your friends. Connect in a meaningful way with the friends who make you feel happy. (At least for this month, stay away from those friends who drain your energy.) At least once a week, make a date with a friend to have lunch together, or even a cup of coffee at your breakfast table.
- Spend time each day listening to music you love. Dance.
If you’ve ever watched the Ellen DeGeneres show, you know that dancing has the ability to make people happy. Even bad dancing. Maybe especially bad dancing. For an instant boost of endorphins, crank up your favorite upbeat music and dance in your kitchen for five minutes. Do this for at least five minutes every day, and I guarantee you’ll have at least four minutes of happiness. (Sometimes it takes a minute for the endorphins to kick in.)
Susan Mallery is the New York Times bestselling author of over one hundred romances and she has yet to run out of ideas!! She has written series romances, as well as single titles, historicals, contemporaries and even a lone time travel. Always reader favorites, her books have appeared on the Waldens bestseller list, along with the USA Today bestseller list and, of course, the New York Times list. She has won awards for everything from best single title contemporary, to best Special Edition of the year and recently took home the prestigious National Reader's Choice Award. As her degree in Accounting wasn't very helpful in the writing department, Susan earned a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction.
Susan makes her home in the Pacific Northwest where, rumor has it, all that rain helps with creativity. Susan is married to a fabulous hero-like husband and has a six pound toy poodle...who is possibly the cutest dog on the planet.
Find her online at SusanMallery.com, Facebook, and Twitter.
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Article Submitted On: January 04, 2010