At least several times during the night I woke up with pounding pain in my head. This wasn’t the best way to start off the week but I allowed myself to continue falling back asleep and waking up every now and again. This morning, however, on my way to the office I decided that today was going to be an awesome day. Why was it going to be an awesome day? Because I decided it was going to be an awesome day.

Ford was Right
Though I don’t have the exact quotation in front of me, and I am not sure that it actually was spoken in these exact words, Henry Ford said “Those that think they can and those that think they can’t are both right.” What does this mean for me today, and for me in the future?

It means that if I go into things thinking that they are doomed to fail, they are much more likely to fail than if I think about them in terms of how they are going to work out. If I think of things in terms of what is wrong with them instead of what is right with them, I am much more likely to continue thinking negatively rather than having any positive thinking in my being and mind.

Positive follows Positive, Negative follows Negative
I have observed that one negative thought is often followed by another negative thought, which is then followed by yet another negative thought, and it goes on and on. Conversely, a positive thought is often followed by another one, etc. How is this so? Our thoughts are connected to one another – sometimes we will have a thought that just enters our mind that seems to just lead to another thought – it is because the thoughts are connected in our mind. If you think of the brain as a sort of a multi-dimensional spider web you can see how one thought could link to another thought which would ultimately lead to thoughts that seem completely unrelated to the initial thought.

What can you do once you are in a negative trend and you are trying to get out of it? Simply put, the same thing that you might have to do if you are in a car that seems to be barreling forward with no control whatsoever. You have to try to put the brakes on the thought process, so to speak. There are many ways that you can achieve this, one of which is to attempt to completely change what it is you have in mind. Sometimes it is as simple as going outside for a walk, or putting on some music and listening to some of your favorite songs. Sometimes the solution is as simple as calling a friend and talking things out with them, or getting them to talk about something that is unrelated to you and completely related to them so that you get out of your own head, so to speak.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my mother is that we must always be more like a thermostat and less like a thermometer. What does this mean? A thermometer records that which is around it. If it is hot, the thermometer records that it is hot. If it is cold, the thermometer records that it is cold. However, with a thermostat we set the temperature. We make the decision to have the temperature be cold or hot, regardless of the external temperature. This is good practical advice, even if it is somewhat difficult to master: just remind yourself that you are not a thermometer; you are a thermostat.

Smile Therapy
Before I tell you what smile therapy is, I have to advise you that I learned about it from a television show. Not just any television show, but a television show that has nothing to do with real medicine and in fact had a lot to do with a very not real law firm that had equal parts of drama and comedy to it. The television show to which I am referring happens to be Ally McBeal.

Are you still with me? Good. I was hoping you wouldn’t go away just because I mentioned that I got a good idea from a television show. Okay, bear with me on this. The idea behind smile therapy is that by smiling, you will actually put yourself in a better mood. Studies have shown that when you smile, your body releases endorphins, which put you in a better mood. Therefore, by smiling, you will want to continue to do so because your body is making you feel better. Sometimes you just don’t feel like smiling, though.

This certainly happens to me sometimes. I just don’t feel like smiling and I nearly refuse to do it. Something is really putting me in a poor mood, so to speak. What is the solution? It is absolutely that you have to force yourself to smile. I write this from my own experience of being somewhere and I just don’t want to smile. What I will do is think back to when I go to get a photo id – I feel that when I am asked to smile for a photo, I don’t look particularly natural. It feels like the request to smile is so forced and I have to be prepared for it, so what I do is I just practice smiling; I imagine the person asking me to smile or to be ready for the photo, and I smile. It always comes out more naturally that way. Anyhow, when I don’t feel like smiling, I just practice smiling.

A good book. Your favorite television show. Reminding yourself that you are a thermostat and not a thermometer. Smile therapy. Whatever it is that gets you on the more positive path, take that train and run with it, because allowing yourself to stew in negativity can only do more harm than good and will most likely not help you in the long run. Do yourself a favor and get yourself on the road to more positive thinking.