Tell yourself you can change
“Happiness is not the belief you don’t need to change, it’s that you can change,” Achor says. Take a moment to notice the relationship between change and personal growth.
Try this: “Write down the three greatest moments of change in your life that have brought you to being the person you like being today,” Achor advises. They can be obvious milestones, like moving to a new city, or more subtle and personal, like meeting your best friend. Hang your list in your bathroom or above your desk to encourage you to adapt your attitude and stay positive. Did you know listening to music can bring back positive memories?
Go someplace else
When you’re taxed, it’s easy to blow small negatives out of proportion. But research shows that a new environment can change your perspective for the better. Achor describes an experiment where Yale medical students left class to study ancient paintings at a local art museum. After their trip, as a group they showed a 10 percent improvement in their ability to recognize important medical details, compared to students who didn’t take the same break. “By training their brains to see more vantage points, these students learned to approach problems with a broader and deeper perspective,” Achor writes.
Try this: If you’re stuck, expose your brain to a new environment—physically go to another place, or read or look elsewhere—to gain a positive change of attitude.
Refuel and re-energize
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Everyone knows that tired plus hungry equals unhappy, but this combination might be more damaging than you think. Your brain interprets lack of sleep as a threat to the central nervous system, Achor writes, which can cloud judgment. Missing one night of sleep can cause you to remember 59 percent fewer positive words, which could make you overly focus on the negative. “If you are well rested and just fed, it will be easier to see the broader range of valuable details, information, and possibilities,” Achor writes. In one well-known Columbia Business School study, judges granted parole to only 20 percent of applicants before lunch time, but to 60 percent after they ate something.
Try this: If your attitude is chronically cranky, look at your eating and sleeping habits. A mid-morning snack (like the protein-fat combo of apple with peanut butter) could steady your blood sugar. Sleep can also help protect your brain from Alzheimer’s.