When you’re down in the dumps, it can be hard to think of ways to make you feel better. It’s one of those features of being an adult. (In fact, J. M. Barrie makes finding just one happy thought a prerequisite for passage to Neverland.) Over the past few months of therapy, I’ve learned that the secret is to focus on positive thoughts when they come easily so you have some in reserve for when they don’t. Try these five suggestions for saving up those happy thoughts for a rainy day.
1. Keep an I.L.A.C. Box
Adam’s kindergarten teacher asked students to keep a box of things that reminded them, “I Am Loving and Capable.” It sounds a little corny, but when you save up thank you cards, positive performance reviews, and pictures students draw you, you have a wonderful resource for the days you need a pick-me up.
2. Keep an Electronic I.L.A.C. Box
Same idea brought into the digital age. Label a folder in your e-mail box I.L.A.C. and use it to store e-mails that make you feel good about who you are and what you have accomplished. Stash away e-mails from your boss thanking you for a job well done or love notes from your partner telling you how much you mean to him.
3. Savor Happy Moments
Human beings tend to focus on our negative experiences, so, when we’re in a funk, it’s easy to call up negative memories. The next time you experience something that makes you happy, spend at least twenty seconds savoring the moment. Use all of your senses. The sound of crunching autumn leaves. The taste of your partner’s kiss. The smell of your baby’s head when you snuggle him. The sight of a friend from across a crowded room of strangers. The feel of your sheets on a lazy Saturday morning. Fill yourself up with little moments of happiness to keep yourself from running on empty.
4. Write a Blessings Book
Keep a journal with things for which you are grateful. Don’t worry about complete sentences or good grammar. Just write down the people, places, and things that make your life a little better. Include big things like your family and little things like a sip of a cup of hot tea. Look back to your book when you’re having a hard time remembering what you have to be thankful for.
You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars and hours to put together simple photo albums of the best times you’ve shared with your family and friends. In fact, you can even keep an eScrapbook on your phone or computer. Share a smile with someone any time you like.
The more we practice positive thinking, the better we protect ourselves from depression and anxiety. And the more positive energy we have to share with the people we care about the most.
What do you do for a pick-me-up? Let us know in the comments.