It can be easy to get sucked into negative thoughts and stories, complaining to ourselves or to anyone who'll listen. At these moments, it's useful to have some go to shifters, some practices that will help retrain your brain toward being more optimistic and recognizing the good things, the positive things happening in your life. Here are some tips for retraining your brain:
Be grateful: Each day identify 3 things you are grateful for and the include as much detail as you can as to why you are grateful. I love to do this before I fall asleep each night. Every time we practice gratitude, our brain is being re-wired to notice more things to be grateful for. When we practice gratitude, our body releases chemicals into our body that cause us to feel good.
In my opinion, gratitude is the most powerful tool to shift and to retrain the brain toward positivity.
Savor a good experience: Take a moment to pause and bring to mind a good experience that you've had. Replay all of the details surrounding the experience...what happened, who was there, what was said, how did you respond, what were you wearing, etc. Our brain doesn't really know if an event is really happening or if we are envisioning it happening. We get a download of feel good chemicals released into our body and our brain is being trained to see more goodness.
Catch yourself: Don’t wait for your friends or family to tell you you’re complaining, pay attention to your thoughts and words.
If you’re complaining, work to shift your energy toward finding solutions and/or lessons to be learned. It can be easy to get trapped into the cycle of complaining, especially in a group setting focused on a common "enemy" or "problem". Work to gear your thoughts and words to productive solutions versus unproductive complaining, blaming, judging, gossip, or negative stories that quickly spiral out of control.
Shift your mood: If you feel overwhelmed or challenged in some way, remove yourself from whatever you’re doing and work to shift your mood. This can be as easy as practicing gratitude or savoring a good experience. You can also practice a other mindfulness techniques like the S.T.O.P. technique. S...Stop, T...Take 3 deep breaths, O...Observe what you are thinking, what you are feeling and what's going on around you, P...Practice gratitude. Another one of my go to techniques is to put my hand over my heart and inhale to the count of 5 and exhale to the count of 5 for a series of at least 3 more more breaths.
Shifting a mood, a state of mind, and retraining our brain takes intentional practice. Having awareness is a key step. Being aware of your thoughts, beliefs, feelings, moods, stories, etc. and then intentionally and consciously engaging in practices to assist in moving to a different path. This takes effort and discipline, but the rewards are huge.