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5 Steps to Changing Your Behavior

Accentuate the Positive, Minimize the Negative
Meditation can help to manage your stress.
Meditation can help to manage your stress.
Allan Danahar/Getty Images

Unfortunately, biology doesn’t always help us. Our ancient predecessors who were on the alert for negative signals in their environment (saber-tooth tigers, dangerous rival tribes) survived a lot longer than the folks stopping to smell the Flintstones-sized roses. We can’t get rid of all negative signals - we need some for survival - but us modern humans can minimize our negativity bias by intentionally focusing on the positive.

Write down three positive things that happened to you this week (or have happened in the past), and call them to mind often. Keep a gratitude journal. Be your own cheerleader. Become aware of negative self-talk and counteract it with positive affirmations. Then, post them around your house, or put them in your wallet.

Create a network of supportive friends and family (even one or two will suffice), or find a group online or in your community who share the same goals as you. Create new pathways in the brain by starving negative habits of time and energy while reinforcing new behaviors with positive rewards.

Train yourself like you would a puppy. Put the shoes out of puppy’s reach. Give treats for good behavior, and give them soon or the puppy may lose attention and motivation. While long-term rewards such as healthy relationships, more energy and happiness are strong motivations, sometimes we need the quick chocolate or spontaneous movie to get us there.