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In a famous quote, author and tireless peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh said, "There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way."
In the world of therapy, sometimes I ask people to consider 3 steps to get themselves out of a rut.
First, I ask them to think of times when they were feeling well and ask them what they were doing? How were they thinking? Some say:
I was taking more walks
I was talking to friends more
I was more hopeful about the future
I was playing guitar more
I was waking up earlier
I was doing more yoga
I was eating healthier
I was smiling more
Second, I tell people to integrate these activities into their calendar. Not in an effort to fake it until you make it, but because our bodies, thoughts, emotions, and behavior are interlinked to cultivate our experience. Therefore, if we change one, we can affect them all. In changing our behavior to reflect behavior that is experienced when we are feeling well, we can influence the other three in a positive direction.
Third, notice automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) such as "this is stupid" or "this will never work" or "what's the point". When you notice them, know that they are a product of not feeling well and are not facts. The gently redirect your attention back to the behavior.
Try it out, don't take my word for it, and let your own experience be the teacher!
As always, please share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interactions provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist and conducts a private practice in West Los Angeles. He is co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook (New Harbinger, February 2010). Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression.