Healthy Living: Negative Bias

Last week’s snowfall was exhilarating! It covered our juniper shrubs with a four inch white cap; the cul-de-sac below was a completely white blanket, no cat or dog or tire tracks to mar the pure scene. No newspaper or mail delivery! All we could do was to repeat “OOH” and “AAH” and got out cell phones to permanently record this picture of a rare display of our Kern Valley grandeur.

However, this penetrating cold spell simply has to be nearing its end; I’m beyond ready for spring to rush in to replace what a family friend calls “these dark months.” My gardening tools and I are eager to attack those overgrown shrubs and piles of pine needles. I’m even looking forward to repainting the eaves and trim of our garage. I don’t mind taking daily doses of Vitamin D supplements, but a good dose of outside sunshine provides me with uplifting and erasing that that long lasting feeling of the “Blahs.”

I don’t know about you, but I do have to work on replacing what psychologists refer to as “negative bias.” With this cold spell we’ve been going through, I find myself complaining a lot. My comfort zone is at its lowest. I’m annoyed by little things that would never bother me during warmer weather. I counsel myself with short lectures such as “Stop being so negative!” “We’ll be able to go fishing again – the lake is starting to fill up once more!” and “Go find something fun to do!”

No doubt about it, we’re all searching for ways to make us happier, yet we find so many hurdles in the way of succeeding. We need to practice positive thinking every day, all day long yet the practice routine can be made up of many simple behaviors such as a common one recommended by many counselors: at the end of your work day, don’t ask your coworker “How was your day?”

Instead, change it to “What was the best part of your day today?” Or try switching your attention from yourself to someone else around you, and say or do something nice for the person. Simple, small gestures are all it may take to improve how you feel.

Take a walk. It doesn’t have to be a long one; just walk down a block or two and back and you’ll feel refreshed and able to shift on to purposeful chores.

Recall a funny joke or two that you’ve heard and tell it to the person near you. It’s guaranteed to bring smiles and giggles to the both of you – even if you flub up the punch line!

Oh, well, next week’s weather report tells us it will be better. Welcome, March!

Christine Harness has worked in the field of Occupational Therapy throughout her adult life, both in and outside of the Kern River Valley. She has helped countless individuals to maintain or regain their independence. Christine believes that enjoying and taking satisfaction in one’s day-to-day activities is the key to a meaningful life.

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