Unlike Pharrell, you don’t feel like clapping along. In fact, his level of happiness may irritate you. You just aren’t that happy-go-lucky type—often you may be downright pessimistic. Sound familiar? Negative thinking happens to all of us, but when it becomes a pattern, it becomes problematic. Maybe you figure if expect the worst, you’ll never be surprised when disaster happens. But, do you really want to live that way?
There’s a difference between being a healthy skeptic and curbing your reaction to always think the worst—and the line is a fine one. So how do you know if your pessimism needs to be reined in? A few red flags:
1. Your initial reaction is to see the downside. What could go wrong? What is lacking? What is dubious?
2. You find you are the one who points out what is potentially wrong and dangerous with every situation. You feel an odd pride that you are cynical and your friends are a bit Pollyannaish.
3. You consider yourself a devil’s advocate, but your friends have dubbed you Debbie Downer, or depressing variations thereof.
4. Even if the situation/gift/day is perfect, you still are wary and never get too excited about it.
5. You’ve always been “the grumpy” one, the party pooper, the skeptic. Even as a kid, the glass never looked never half full to you.
So the moment has come where you realize your quality of life is suffering—you admit you are jealous you can’t laugh as easily as everyone else, and that your attitude feels more like a ball and chain than a gift. Here, five ways to start experiencing life as a little brighter. [Tweet this plan!]
RELATED: Your 7-Step Guide to Happiness
1. Dance...with kids (or grownups who act like kids). Don’t know any available kids to dance with? Lock the doors blast some music and bounce around for five minutes. Research shows rhythmic, pogo-like dancing actually helps your mood. Don’t worry about how you look, even the spazziest funky chicken will do.
2. Dig deep to see where you “learned” to be negative. Chances are you had a parent who modeled some similar behavior or was outspoken about everything that could go wrong in every situation. Recognizing where you picked this up can help you dismantle it.
3. Laugh more. Start a playlist of Youtube vids that crack you up. Silly babies, uncoordinated cats, pranks or comedy—do this like homework and practice (yes, practice) laughing. I recommend A Smile, a Grin, A Laugh, That’s Life by Victoria and John Galasso.
4. Ask yourself, "Might I be dysthymic?" Folks with mild chronic depression often go undiagnosed, they get labeled as “the grumpy ones,” rather than the ones who might be low on neurotransmitters that help them feel balanced and hopeful.
5. Extend happy moments. Then start stringing them together to make happy seconds turn into happy minutes and then hours!