Thinking Your Way to Happiness


by Nicole Bueno

Thinking Your Way to HappinessWho decides whether you are happy or unhappy?  You do!

When life gets stressful or things happen that are unpleasant, it is easy to succumb to negative thinking which will only make achieving a state of happiness more difficult.  For others, what really may be bothering you is your own habitual ways of thinking and not what actually happens to you.  When you experience something in life, you can choose how to react and respond to it.  The choice is yours.

The more you practice taking control of your thoughts, the easier it will become, and you can experience increased happiness and a better mood state.  It is important to realize that there is very little to be gained from negative thoughts, whereas there are plenty of things that can be gained from positive thinking: reduced anxiety levels, increased coping mechanisms in times of stress, being able to remain focused on the task at hand, increased self-confidence, and creating an improved mood state.

The first step in taking control of your thoughts is to become aware of what you are saying to yourself.  Once you become aware of your negative thinking, you can take steps to change the negative to positive thoughts.

Here are some ways to change your thinking from negative to positive:

  1. Ask yourself if the thought is beneficial to you. 
  2. If it is not helpful, and it is likely that it is not, then begin the process to change that thought.  Realize that it is not the situation that is affecting you, but rather the negative thoughts you are having about it that are not serving you.  Tell yourself that the thought is not helpful and you do not have to think it or pay attention to it. 
  3. Refocus by replacing the negative thought with a positive thought or engage in an activity you enjoy that will help you feel good such as a walk with your dog, working in your garden, etc.
  4. Keep a self-talk log.  Write down a negative thought that you have and then write down a positive thought to replace it and focus on the positive thought.
  5. Write a positive statement on a post-it or index card and put it somewhere where you will see it every day and say it to yourself.  It can be a statement such as “Today is going to be a good day” or “I am proud of myself because I gave it my best effort”

Do not get discouraged if it seems challenging at first.  With regular, consistent practice, you will discover you are on your way to happier thoughts and happier moods.

Nicole Bueno is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and is a Mental Health Therapist and Peak Performance Sport Consultant. Nicole received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from San Jose State University and her Master’s Degree in Social Welfare from U.C. Berkeley. She is currently a Master’s Degree candidate of the Sport Psychology program at John F. Kennedy University. She has her own private practice in San Jose, California.  Nicole can be reached at or (408) 724-1009.