Challenge Unhelpful Thoughts

Listen to your thoughts — but don’t necessarily believe them.

They're suggestions, possibilities. But they’re not gospel. You can’t control what thoughts pop up, but you can decide what is helpful and choose not to give the unhelpful thoughts any more attention than they deserve.

Connor Lambert (@connortheone) - Profile Photo

@connortheone

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Self Improvement

  • Black and White Thinking: There are heaping piles of nuance to most things.
  • Unrealistic Expectations: Cynicism is bad, but a little skepticism is essential.
  • Selective Attention: If your brain is always looking for the negative, you’re gonna find it.
  • Disqualifying the Positive: Sometimes we go into problem-solving mode and focus only on what is broken.
  • Predicting the Future: “This will never work” or “They’re going to think I’m stupid.” You don’t know the future. So don’t act like it.
  • “Should” thoughts: It’s usually just an insistence that the world bends to your will and is a great way to amplify frustration.

Doing little positive things is better for happiness than occasionally bagging an elephant:

  • Enjoyable stuff
  • Achievement stuff: Defeat your goals in single combat and feel like a conquering hero
  • Meaningful stuff: Do volunteer work or just help someone
  • Physical stuff: Exercise. Not only keeps you alive, but it’s like miracle grow for your brain
  • Social stuff.

If you want to keep your brain happy, be clear on who your support network is. Know who matters and nurture those relationships.

The best thing to do is to talk with the person in real life or meet up for an activity. The next best thing is talking on the phone, which is better than texts or emails. Seeing someone and hearing their voice activates your mirror neuron system in ways that texting can’t match.

Some questions to help you:

  • “Who appreciates you or thinks highly of you, whether or not you agree with them?”
  • “Who is there to help you out if needed?”
  • “Who can you call, text or visit for emotional support?”
  • “Who is good with giving you advice or helping you make decisions?”
  • “Who do you like spending time with?”
  • “Who can you do activities with?”

Beating yourself up won’t make you better. Instead of self-criticism, try self-reassurance.

When you’re trying to quit bad habits you often get critical with yourself which leads to bad feelings that make you cave and go back to your old ways. And self-criticism can also easily lead to bad moods.

You don’t need to buy anything or do anything to feel happier. You just need to appreciate what you already have.

Gratitude can decrease depression symptoms as well as stress in general and leads to increased perception of social support. It improves self-esteem and psychological well-being.

Importantly, gratitude has the power to activate the dopamine system.

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