By Eric Barker
October 9, 2014
IDEAS
Barker is the author of Barking Up The Wrong Tree

You can train your mind to be unhappy and you can train it to be happy.

Training your mind to look for errors and problems (as happens in careers like accounting and law) can lead you toward a pervasive pessimism that carries over into your personal life.

Via One Day University Presents: Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness (Harvard’s Most Popular Course):

Why are lawyers 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression and more likely to end up divorced?

Martin Seligman, psychology professor at UPenn and author of Authentic Happiness, explains they have trained their minds to seek out the bad in life because pessimists excel at law:

Is there a way to get your mind out of these negative loops? Yes.

Here’s how.

Three Blessings

You must teach your brain to seek out the good things in life. Research shows merely listing three things you are thankful for each day can make a big difference.

Via Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being:

This technique has been proven again and again and again. One of the reasons old people are happier is because they remember the good and forget the bad.

Social Comparison

People probably encourage you to not compare yourself to others. Research shows it’s not necessarily harmful — but only compare yourself to those worse off than you:

Tell Yourself the Right Stories

When your vision of your life story is inadequate, depression can result. Psychotherapists actually help “rewrite” that story and this process is as, if not more, effective than medication.

Via The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human:

“Retrospective judgment” means reevaluating events and putting a positive spin on them. Naturally happy people do it automatically, but it’s something you can teach yourself.

Via Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth:

Timothy Wilson, author of Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change, has talked about how the process of “story-editing” can help us improve our lives:

And when it comes to the future, be optimistic. Optimism can make you happier.

So, to sum up:

What else can make you happier? The things proven to help are here.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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Here are the things that are proven to make you happier

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