Developing New Ways of Thinking

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“Optimism is like a muscle. Gets stronger with use.”-Robin Roberts

Taking an optimistic view rather than focusing on negative thoughts can benefit your overall mental well-being. While it might take some time, eventually you may find that thinking positively starts to come more naturally. Consider putting some of the following tips into practice.

List five things that you are grateful for right now. Let this practice become a part of your daily or weekly routine. It may be helpful to hang your list in a spot where you may come across it often, so that you can take a moment to think about what you are grateful for.

Live in the present. Too much focus on future and past events can distract our minds from what is important today. Meditation and yoga can help in centering the mind and body, allowing you to identify with yourself in the present moment.

Surround yourself with positive people. Positive thought patterns are contagious, so surround yourself with people who make you happy and are optimistic.

Positive thinking and optimism does not come overnight, and you do not need to be a positive perfectionist. It may be challenging to try and find the positive in every aspect of your life – health, finances, relationships, and/or work. Focusing in one area will aid in building the skills to transfer into the other areas of your life.

What helps you to maintain positive thoughts?

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Creating a Different Kind of Holiday Season When You Have MS:

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it is easy to get wrapped up in the holiday bustle. Many people get so focused on decorating and shopping that holiday thoughts change from decorating enough to feel festive and finding gifts that spread cheer, to the bigger and fancier (and more expensive) the gifts and decorations, the better the holiday.

So, before we all get wrapped up in consumerism, I would ask you to think about creating a different kind of Holiday Season this year. Instead of having said your yearly, “Thanks” on Thanksgiving, carry that idea over into the rest of your holidays by creating a Gratitude Journal.

You might be asking, “What is a Gratitude Journal?”

Several studies have shown that individuals who participate in gratitude-based activities may have an improved sense of well-being. So, I would challenge you to get either a specific journal or notebook (or smartphone app) and assign that as a specific place to write each day one thing for which you are grateful. Try to spend at least 10-15 minutes thinking about what you are grateful for, why you are grateful for it, and how it impacts your life before you write it down. At the end of each week, spend a little time to read over all the things you have written down over the last week.

At the end of the month, reflect back. Has this activity helped to keep you centered and focused during the Holiday Season? If so, this may be an activity to keep up throughout the year, reminding us that Holiday Season or not, upon reflection there are things large and small for which we are grateful.

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Gratitude

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”

- John F. Kennedy

 “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

- Albert Schweitzer

In life, there are many instances where good deeds often go unnoticed and the people who do these deeds can be overlooked. As we live in a somewhat “rushed” and hectic society, there are many moments that tend to slip under the radar as we hurry along to accomplish the day’s tasks. We can often ignore the things in life that are precious and valuable. It is not through personal fault that this occurs; there are simply not enough hours in the day to single out all of the privileged moments we experience.

But what if we did just that? What if we made time to think of all the moments, people, and interactions that we feel grateful for on any given day? Showing gratitude to the people in our lives that we cherish and to the moments that make life unforgettable has the capability to brighten our outlook, and make an otherwise “hectic” day seem gracious and special.

What are some things that make you feel grateful?

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