You can go from pessimist to optimist and enjoy the good health benefits of a sunny outlook. The secret? Positive self-talk. You can learn how to talk to yourself to boost well-being, but it does take practice. Here’s how.

1. Ferret out “stinkin‘ thinking‘” so you can eliminate it. The Mayo Clinic says these are the four signs of pessimism:

*You magnify the negative and filter out the positive.

*When something bad happens, you jump to blame yourself.

*You automatically anticipate the worst.

*You see situations as entirely good/bad and either/or.

2. Be kind to yourself. Sometimes we’re so mean to ourselves, spewing out words that we wouldn’t dream of uttering to anyone else. Even an enemy. Put a stop to self-critical thoughts by asking: Would I say that to my beloved (or child, pet, parent)? Perhaps you’re afraid self-acceptance will make you spoiled or selfish. Don’t be. As your self-talk becomes more compassionate, you’ll be able to share that ease and generosity of spirit with others.

3. See the funny. If you can laugh at yourself or the ridiculous in life, you can dissipate symptoms of stress. That leads to optimistic thinking and then positive self-talk. Don’t have a sense of humor? Borrow someone else’s. Clip out cartoons. Check online for light-hearted videos. Talk to a friend with a well-developed funny bone. Learn a joke and share it. (Your pleasure will be re-activated each time.)

4. Plaster the place with happy face stickers. Stick them on your desk, pen, chair…everywhere you’re likely to see them often. Let them be reminders of happiness. Think up scores of good thoughts in advance, and then pull out one whenever you see a sticker. Examples: Pleasant memories, wishes and dreams, loved ones, things you’re grateful for.

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5. Eliminate the negative. Do as much as you can to solve problems, and then let them go. Ruminating about negative situations is counter-productive. And for goodness sakes, don’t borrow everyone else’s troubles. Try to stay far away from work drama. Shut your ears to gossip. Put down the newspaper and turn off the TV when they report only gloom-and-doom.

Try some of these tactics and let us know what works for you. We’d love to hear from you!

Jebra Turner is a health reporter and former H.R. director for an ergonomics-focused firm, where she oversaw workplace health and safety training programs for staff and clients. She lives in Portland, Oregon, but you can visit her at

Jebra Turner
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