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Five Ways to Change Your Mindset

Our brains are powerful things.  Whether we like it or not, if we let them, our thoughts can dictate the course of our days, giving way to everything from joy and peace to frustration and anger.  And according to social contagion data, our joy and peace and frustration and anger then spreads to the people around us.  The good news is that we have a lot of tools that can help us shift negative thinking to positive thinking…and harness the power of already positive thoughts.  Here are a few small, simple practices you can incorporate into everyday life to keep the glass half full.


When you wake up: Ask “what do I GET to to today?”

Instead of asking “what do I HAVE to do today?” think about what you GET to do.  Do you have to have to get up early, or do you get to see the sun rise?  Do you have to do school drop-off, or do you get to see your son stand tall as he walks into his classroom?  Do you have to go to work, or do you get to solve an interesting problem?  From mundane tasks to special events, all of the things that fill our days are gifts…each day itself is a gift.  If you need an extra boost to see these gifts, take a few minutes to watch Brother David’s 5-minute meditation, “A Good Day,” (just “play video” on


Before your workday starts: Exercise.

We all wake up on the wrong side of the bed sometimes, and a morning workout is one of the best ways to turn around a cranky start to the day.  Schedule in a morning workout the night before, and stick to it.  If you’d like to give morning workouts a try, but are having trouble making them a routine, here are a few ideas to help you get your sweat on before your family wakes up.


Lunchtime: Dine with a human, not a screen.

62% of Americans eat lunch at their desks, most likely in front of their screens.  If you’re one of those people, ask yourself, how much do you really get done in the 20-30 minutes you spend mindlessly eating your food while you answer emails.  Unless you type well with a fork in your hand, this is likely hugely inefficient.  Contrast this with getting to know a colleague better or having some serious laughs with a colleague who is already a friend.  A short lunchtime conversation can change your point-of-view, and at a minimum, get your mind off of work so you’re able to go back refreshed in the afternoon.


Before you get home from work: Help someone else.

The children’s book, “How Full Is Your Bucket?” talks about how helping other people benefits the “helpees” AND the helpers by making the point that when you fill up someone else’s bucket, you fill up your own bucket too.  These acts don’t have to be huge community service efforts; they can 5-minute things like introducing two friends who could learn from each other, getting an elderly neighbor’s mail, giving a colleague feedback on an idea, or reading with a child for a few minutes.  Taking a few minutes to focus on someone else, thereby taking the focus away from yourself, is one of the best ways to quickly shift your mindset.


Before you go to sleep: Take five minutes to micro-journal.

Reflection is an incredible way for our brains to make sense of what’s happening around us, but focused reflection can feel daunting, particularly at the tired end of a busy day.  Reflection doesn’t need to be a huge time commitment, or involve pages and pages of writing in a leather-bound journal.  It’s simply taking a few minutes to think about the day — what went well, what didn’t, what did you learn, what ideas did you have?  Give yourself 5-10 minutes at the end of the day to jot down a few notes; it may shift your perspective and help you more easily slip into sleep.


What practices would you add to this list?


Photo by Dawn Ashley via Flickr Creative Commons.


5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Awesome ideas, thank you! The only one I would add would be to make sure you get outside.Sometimes all you need is a few minutes, a little time in nature, looking at green and it helps clear the mind for better perspective, thinking, etc.

    September 4, 2014
  2. Great post! I read your post on morning workouts as well, and though my morning is not nearly as hectic as that Walmart employee’s, my work day starts at 7am as well and i have not once been able to get up for a workout before work in the past year of being at this job. Maybe I will find the motivation… I definitely know what you mean about the silent beauty of the morning time (as I drive to work)!

    September 4, 2014
    • Thanks so much. Yes, a 7am start time makes morning workouts tough. Maybe you can find just 15 minutes for yourself to kickstart your day. Good luck!

      September 5, 2014
  3. This one seems sort of sad (ha ha), but sometimes knocking off a simple chore or two can REALLY change my attitude. All those dirty dishes in the sink can be depressing, but it only actually takes 7 minutes (or however long) to get them in the dishwasher. I usually feel like I’ve accomplished something afterwards!

    September 5, 2014
  4. ebriceno #

    Brynn, thank you for this post! Thanks to it, “what I get to do today” is one of the things I’m grateful for first thing every morning, and it makes me appreciate every day more. Thank you!

    January 8, 2015

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