16 Psychologists Share The One Simple Brain Trick That Will Improve Your Mental Health

Haley Phelps

1. You Can Be Addicted To Happiness Too

Be positive. I know it sounds cliche. You can be addicted to happiness just as you can be addicted to depression. At first, it will be tough to feel positive when you’re down, but over time your brain will release more and more feel good neurotransmitters. Eventually, they will just come naturally.



2. Accept That You Usually Know The Solution To Your Problem

Odds are, you already know what it is you need to do to improve your life/health/relationships/job satisfaction/etc. Looking to others to tell you what you already know, to somehow validate what you already believe and create stability, only inhibits progress. We often ask for this validation out of fear of being wrong. Accept that you’re not as stupid as you’ve convinced yourself that you are, take your own advice… For the question isn’t really “What should I do?” but rather “Am I willing to do what I know I need to do, or am I looking for a way to avoid the actual solution?”



3. The Ugly Truth

Drinking less and exercising more will probably solve almost all of your problems.



4. Be Mindfully Present

Be more present in the conversation, like don’t think about what you are going to say while the other person is still talking. Allow the other person to finish their sentence and THEN think about what you want to say. People miss so many social cues and important parts of the conversation just by not actually listening. Also, ask questions; if someone says that they are going to Hawaii, ask when and who with and other basic questions. People just want to talk about themselves and be listened to.



5. Fruitful Thinking

Instead of thinking “What can I do to get x”, think “What can I do that makes getting x inevitable?”

This kind of thinking is more fruitful because everything suddenly gets more realistic.



6. Give Yourself A Chance To Be Happy

Have a routine for your day.

Exercise, eat healthily and sleep plenty.

Have three people you can rely on invariably.

The long-term stuff can be addressed later, but if you don’t have at least two of these your chances of being a happy person are low.

Alternatively, “A person with a ‘Why’ can bear any ‘How.'”



7. Acknowledge Differences

Realize that something someone does that you view as a problem might be a solution in their mind.



8. Start Your Day By Completing A Task

Make your bed. It starts the day off with an accomplishment and at the very least, even if you do nothing that day you have made your bed and completed a task.



9. Give People Time To Be Truthful

If you want the truth from someone, ask them a question and then remain silent for a few seconds after they finish answering. The silence will make them uncomfortable and they will try to fill it with words, often giving you more information than they intended to



10. Thinking Positively About Things You Want To Change

Frame things by what you will gain instead of what you will lose. Instead of saying “stop doing meth if you don’t want to be a loser” you can say “if you stop doing meth you’ll be cooler and healthier.” Sorry, that’s the only example I can come up with right now.



11. Order Your Thoughts

Think your way to success. There are a few steps I try to remember in my everyday life:

  • Think about succeeding
  • Hold that thought as you do your work, and then
  • Complete the task

One thing that helped me with my schoolwork:

  • Learn the material
  • Start on the homework, and then
  • Do the homework early so that I’m not waiting until the last minute.

Taking these steps has really helped me think in a more positive fashion in my life.



12. Be Willing To Swallow The Truth

The truth can be hard to swallow. Before you automatically assume someone is lying or being unfair because they told you that you have a problem or bad habit, take the time to listen to why they feel that way.



13. There’s A Difference Between Thoughts And Feelings

One thing that many people seem to struggle with is to distinguish between thoughts and feelings. When asked are asked about their emotional reaction to a particular situation mostly they reply by offering a thought about what happened. Confusion about the difference between thoughts and feelings can make it difficult to respond to situations in a useful way. Some examples:

“I feel like he shouldn’t have bullied me!” This is a thought putting you in a somewhat passive position. On the contrary: “I feel angry with him for doing that!” Recognizing that you have some anger can enable you to assert yourself instead of going passive, taking a one-down position or playing the victim.

“I feel that everything is hopeless now that I lost my job”. Not a feeling! Some situations are hopeless and should be treated as such, but construing something as hopeless, when it is not, can take away your sense of agency. The feeling (behind the thought) would be something like “I am sad about losing my job” and “I am angry about getting fired”. Grieving the situation with someone you trust and then using the feeling of anger to motivate you to take appropriate action are more adaptive strategies.



14. Chunking

The brain, according to the Multi Store Model, can only remember 7±2 items in short-term memory. These items can include digits, numbers, letters, words etc. If you want to learn something quickly. Just chunk things together. That’s, in short, how acronyms work.

For example, if you want to remember the sentence “I can’t eat cheese, Ryan eats a mouse” you can chunk it down easily with creating an acronym, “Icecream”. It doesn’t even need to be a proper word, or even the full thing, at least after a while. You can even shorten it to smaller chunks if you need to remember more.

It’s so easy to get to work.



15. Phobias Are Made More Powerful By Running From Them

Phobias of uncomfortable feelings can become much more overwhelming than dealing with the feelings themselves.

If you are otherwise safe and secure and have uncomfortable feelings welling up, do not try to fight them off.

Instead, try to calm yourself and feel the feelings, then wait and allow them to pass. They will pass, generally, relatively quickly.

Secondly, practice relaxing yoga and meditation regularly.

Thirdly, get your basic four straightened out (diet, regular exercise, sleep, and regular human [face-to-face] contact).



16. Remember You’re In Their Movie

I always liked this tip from Dave Dameshek, “you’re in their movie, they’re not in yours” – meaning it’s helpful to take other people’s perception into account. Their reality may be completely different than yours and understanding what their reality looks like can remove a ton of friction.

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Eric Redding

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