Video: Change Your Attitude by Making the Positive Argument.

2010 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2010 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year – and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge — this month’s theme is Attitude, and last week’s resolution was to Re-frame. Did you try to follow that resolution? Did it help to boost your happiness?

This week’s resolution is Make the positive argument.

If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
Make the positive argument.
Act the way you want to feel.

What do you think? Have you ever been able to argue yourself out of a mood of resentment, anger, irritation, or the like? I have to say, I find it a bit uncanny how effective this strategy can be.

If you’re new, here’s information on the 2010 Happiness Challenge (or watch the intro video). It’s never too late to start! You’re not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For more ideas, check out the Happiness Project site on Woman’s Day.

And yes! There will be a Happiness Challenge for 2011. I hope you’ll join in.

* This morning, I gave a short talk about happiness at a salon organized by PSFK, the trends research and innovation company here in New York City. It was a huge amount of fun, and I’ve been poking around at all the interesting material on their website.

* Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel. To get the weekly video by email, right in your email in-box, you can:
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  • I’ve been able to do it, but it’s hard. I once got into a huge fight with my gf (it was a terrible road trip we took, and we’d been arguing every minute of every day). I had recently found a picture of the Dali Lama and put it on my dashboard. I saw the pic, and decided that if he could be happy (he’s smiling in the pic) despite losing friends to China’s attacks, then no matter what that day I would be happy too. And within around 10 minutes, I was actually in a good mood. And around 30 minutes later, so was my gf.

  • DonnaMae

    I have done this a couple times in the past week alone. I wouldn’t say that I meditate but my version of it. I just sit alone or allow my thoughts to flow until I finally say ok now how do I fix this or why does this really bug me?

    I think when we don’t stop and take a breath it esculates.

  • Thanks for sharing this wisdom. I first heard about reframing in Richard Bandler and John Grinder’s book (called “Reframing”). I’ve also been following your Happiness Daily quotes by email – nice work!

  • Gretchen,
    This is so very true! I ahve been dealing with depression and anxiety this year, which got to the worst point in July and August. I have been in counseling since 1st of August. I am learning to assess my feelings, especially if I experience a shift toward the negative. Once I am aware, I can literally talk myself out of the bad mood.
    Note, not all depression can be treated this way, some require medication, and I did too, to begin with. Either way, medicated or not, we need to learn to understand our emotions and learn to have more control over them instead of them having so much control over us.

    • gretchenrubin

      Depression is so, so tough. I’m so happy to hear that you found ways to get
      yourself out of it.

  • Alana in Canada

    Interesting. I tend to do this almost instinctively–and almost always about my husband! Reminds me of what I used to know of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Thanks Gretchen. Maybe I can put this technique to work even more purposefully–I, too, have a short temper.

  • Baker

    Gretchen –

    But where to draw the line between re-framing and plain old denial?

    • gretchenrubin

      Good point, In thinking about happiness, there are areas of constant tension
      — where you really have to think about what is true and how you want to
      handle it. You’ve pointed out a good one, here. Similarly, when are you
      choosing to be enthusiastic and positive, and when are you being fake? There
      are no bright lines, it’s tough…

  • Scott Brown

    Been following you here now for a couple of years and I’ve never written you but thought I should finally say something.

    I probably represent a large chunk of your readership in this way so from us to you…. Thanks! You are the real deal, a person who like us battles with being less than prefect. The difference is you really have good advice. You, I’m sure, have saved me from myself and many an arguement not worth having.

    Thanks again Gretchen.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks so much! I really appreciate those kind words — and so happy to hear
      that you find my work useful.

  • guest
  • I like the fact that you are honest. From your videos its hard to tell you have anger issues. Then again, some of the nicest people have the worst tempers. Anyways, I like the idea of a positive argument. It’s like an advanced version of counting to 10. It kind of reminds me of the idea of the paradigm shift. For example: someone cuts you off on the freeway and you could immediately jump to the conclusion that the man is a selfish jerk. But if you found out later that he was trying to rush his pregnant wife to the hospital, then your opinion of the man instantly changes.

  • LivewithFlair

    I do the “One Word Reminder” to get me out of a bad mood–like a mantra. My word is “flair.” When I say it, it reminds me to start looking for the beautiful thing, the meaningful thing around me.

    • gretchenrubin

      Love it!

  • Elsie

    I completely agree with the idea of positive argument but I think you have to be really careful with who you do it with. If you are being taken advantage of or being injured by someone but keep on telling yourself that all is good you can really end up feeling used and resentful. Sometimes the positive argument means saying simply yes this person is not a great friend but no, they aren’t a jerk they just are not going to be my best friend.

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes — it’s important to know when you’re helping yourself stay in the frame
      of mind you want to cultivate, and when you’re trying to deceive yourself
      about the truth of a situation. Good point.

  • Hpvanduuren

    Interesting idea,

    Reminds me of a saying from Spinoza
    (freely translated)

    ‘It doesn’t matter how thin you cut it, there will always be two sides of the matter’.

    All the Best,
    To your Happy Inspiration,

  • kant

    Milarepa focus on that, centuries ago!!
    Please give credits!!

    Stop stealing buddhism ideas!!

  • jonnysalama

    Nice ! you have great tips!

    love you website!