There are many self-help books on how to improve your relationships, love life, or friendships. Let’s take a look at what we can do for ourselves because how we feel definitely affects those in our lives. I just listened to a couple who realized that some mornings, one of them got up in a foul mood and then the whole day went downhill for both of them because the other person resented having to deal with this which he saw as no fault of his own. So how was the first person dealing with his negative mood?

According to psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, our thoughts, beliefs, and actions that are within our control make up 40% of the reason for a happy mood. The rest, meaning what we can’t control, has to do with genes (50%) and circumstances (10%). So, if you think that situational factors like buying better clothes, or making more money will change your mood, get ready to burst that bubble. A positive and happy mood is what we can cultivate by having a handle on our own and therefore controllable attitudes. This is no small feat because we are all dealing with all kinds of negative events through our lives. There are disappointments, accidents, illnesses, gifts expected and not received, nasty comments by other people, on an on. Yet, there are also kind gestures by strangers, loving comments by friends, promotions, or unexpected gifts too.

Just saw a card that said: An optimist sees a glass half full of wine; a pessimist sees it as half empty. And an opportunist says: Free wine! This is the key to achieving contentment and happiness. Circumstances may make a little bit of change in how we feel. We can make a huge dent in our mood by focusing on caring for ourselves specifically by getting enough sleep, eating healthy and exercising, and then examining our beliefs. This is at the heart of cognitive therapy.

If you focus on what is going good in your life, and practice gratitude, you move your mood in a positive direction. Yes, let’s not deny that life can be full of all kinds of challenges creating stress. But this is not a 0% to 100% game. We have minds with that fantastic capacity to think, sort through and find what is satisfying and joyful. The couple I mentioned was successful in this: Instead of obsessing over and blaming each other, they started to make a list of what they love in one another, and in the process, zeroed in on the source of the distress that was a misinterpretation.

I would encourage you to take time at the end of each day to list what good things happened that day, and what you appreciate in the people around you. To rewire our brain, we need to remind it of the positive, so it becomes more alert to it. That will also influence how our relationships will have a sunnier disposition.

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Author Profile

Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577
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