1.   Do unto yourself as you would do unto others: Most of us are very good at considering other people’s feelings, but we lack emotional intelligence. Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend. You would have very few friends if you treated them the way you treated yourself.

  2.   Look for the kindness’ not the infractions: It is easy to be critical of others and situations. We do this as a self-protective behavior. But if you zero in on the small kindness,’ you will notice your joy score increase. The mood follows the mind, so set your sites carefully and selectively. 

  3.   Be gentle: If beating yourself up worked, you would be happy. Einstein’s quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results,” is spot on. If you think being hard on yourself keeps you on your toes and makes you better, try being gentle for one week and see what happens.

  4.   Focus on the best case or mediocre case scenario. Focusing on the worst-case scenario does not protect you from bad things happening.This behavior pattern exacerbates depression and anxiety. Reflecting on your life, you will notice that worst-case is a rare outcome. Stop putting energy into events that have yet to happen and probably will never happen.

  5.   It is not about becoming. It is about being. Stop trying to get somewhere. Traditional success, defined by prestige and money, does not equal Happiness. It is better to stay in the senses and the moment. In other words, enjoy the process and take the focus off the result.

  6.   Turn the mirror when you see a quality in someone you dislike. Traits in another person only bother you when they are in your shadow or unconscious. Ask yourself, “How am I like this?” While painful, it is a door to a tremendous growth opportunity. Compassion for yourself and others will expand.

  7.   Turn the mirror when you see a quality in someone you like. Traits in another person that you admire are also within you. Ask yourself, “How am I like this?” Celebrate.

  8.   The brain’s primary job is survival, not joy. Consciously incorporate practices such as gratitude and kindness spotting. Learn to be gentle. Stop believing a thought just because there is a robust physiological response. Sensations do not make beliefs accurate. 

  9.   You are lovable. Thankfully, you are not your behaviors. Nobody is. 

  10. Value mental health as much as you value physical health. Go to the mind gym every day. Do the practices that are proven to work. Even on days you are feeling good. You don’t stop going to the gym when you become fit. Do the maintenance workouts.

  11. Stop letting your thoughts bully you. Start seeing your thoughts as a middle school bully. Stop giving it attention and send it compassion. The bully wants to kick you down the stairs. Symbolically, the stairs represent a negative thought spiral. Turn toward the bully with gratitude for the teaching. Chuckle that the bully almost got the best of you and then let it go down the river.

  12. Look at the most painful moments in your life as your teacher. See everyone and everything as your teacher. This behavior will change your world. Dress them in monk or priest robes. Thank them in your mind. 

  13. When you are critical of someone else, think, “Oh, I’ve done that.” When someone cuts you off, and you have to hit the brakes, have gratitude for all the drivers that did the same for you. Anger is suffering. The guy in the other car is going on their merry way while you still suffer over a moment that has already risen and fallen.

  14. If thinking solved anything, no one would have problems, and everyone would sleep better. 

  15. You are not damaged. But you do need to change negative thoughts and behaviors. 

  16. Say kind things to yourself.At first, it will feel disingenuous. But with practice, it will feel genuine. You only believe all the negative chatter because you repeated it a lot.

  17. Change your thinking and behaviors, and you will have beautiful views wherever you are.You can change the scenery, but you bring your mind and patterns wherever you go. You don’t need an expensive vacation.

  18. Counteract ingrained neuro networks by repeating positive thoughts and behavior changes. Anxiety, depression, and shame are our comfort zones.We “hate” the feelings and try to eliminate them, as the character Riley tried to do in the movie Inside Out. Ironically, it feels familiar and safe. 

  19. Train your mind the same way you train a puppy. Be gentle, firm, and patient. Be sure to do a lot of repetition of positive behaviors. Reward effort. Tell yourself, “Good job!” 

  20. Acceptance is the key to breaking long-held habit patterns. Trying to get rid of negative behavior only makes it more prominent. Once the tendency is accepted, there is space to transmute.

  21. You fabricate all of your thoughts. You have 40,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day.Choose to make up positive thoughts rather than believing the negative ones at face value.

  22. You can change. You are not depressed or anxious. You have anxious and depressed thought patterns. You can learn to transmute these thoughts. They are not innate.

  23. See all events as teachings. 

  24. See the people who challenge you the most as your teachers.

  25. You are not damaged. You can spend thousands of dollars in therapy to seek the root cause of depression or anxiety. You may have some powerful epiphanies, but these don’t last. Try to remember the last one you had. You won’t find a primary cause as these are thought loops. Choose a therapy modality, such as cognitive-behavioral, which is evidence-based and proven to improve mental health, reducing anxiety and depression quickly.

  26. Take the attention off of yourself and put it on others. Existential suffering increases when you spend too much time thinking about your life. Devote yourself to focusing on how you can serve others in need. 

  27. Stay in the present. Dwelling on the past leads to depression, and focusing on the future leads to anxious thoughts.

  28. Stay in your senses. Focus on visuals, sounds, smells, and tastes. This activity will take you out of the cognitive mind and thinking loops. You will feel an immediate drop in stress levels

  29. Turn into what you fear or resist. Get it done and reward yourself. Avoidance behaviors amplify stress.

  30. Convert the avoidance activity into a reward. Procrastination fuels anxiety and depression. Break tasks into manageable sections and prioritize them. If your go-to is to play on your phone, put the phone down until you complete the job. Then reward.

  31. Accept yourself, flaws and all.

  32. A solid gratitude practice increases Happiness by at least 30%. Who wouldn’t benefit from those odds?

  33. Always tell yourself, “Good job!” when finished with a task you didn’t want to do.

  34. Focus on positive behaviors rather than negative ones. What we focus on grows. What we ignore diminishes. Water and fertilize the newer behaviors to build the neuropathway.

  35. Listen to music with positive lyrics. Fill your mind with positivity, and you will build new neural pathways.

  36. Play! Be silly. 

  37. Create! Build, write, paint, cook, sing. Do what brings you joy.

  38. Listen to comedy. Reduce consumption of news. Once a week is plenty.

  39. Focus on breathing.Check-in with your breath throughout the day. Be sure to take long, deep breaths that fill your belly. You will feel calm and relaxed immediately.

  40. Take an electronics break. Go for a walk or hike without your phone. Be present in your senses. 

  41. Go kindness spotting. People gift you with kindness throughout the day. Honor these moments. Notice the small acts, the smiles. Let your heart receive it. Before going to sleep, review and cherish these moments.

  42. If everything went your way all the time, there would be no opportunities to grow. The challenging times create the most significant opportunities for emotional development.

  43. When the going gets rough, ask for more. Bring it on. Anxiety comes from thinking something is awful, and you can’t stand it. Reflect on your life and all the challenges you have been through. All the events you thought you couldn’t stand. And here you are, still standing! 

  44. Let your mantra be, “I’m empowered.” Depression stems from helpless, hopeless thinking. This mantra acts as a bulletproof vest.

  45. Events have no power over you. You always get to decide your relationship to what is happening.

  46. You are 100% responsible for your destructive emotions. Events and people do not make you angry, depressed, or anxious. It is always your thinking. This knowledge is freedom.

  47. Comparing and rating increases suffering. Do not compare yourself to others or even other versions of yourself. 

  48. Bring it on. Be excited about setbacks. They are merely an opportunity to grow.

  49. Meditate. Meditation is familiarization with the mind and its contents.

  50. Forgive. Forgiveness is for your mental health. It does not condone other people’s behavior. It is just a way to help you let go.

Go Mindful Counseling

Go Mindful Counseling offers compassionate and effective phone therapy and online therapy for anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, anger, stress, insomnia, and addictive behaviors (see the website for the full list of treatment options).  We provide cognitive behavioral therapy through in-person sessions, online video conferencing, and phone. Click below to schedule a free 20-minute consultation.

Margie Ahern
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