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Stop spinning your wheels

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Any minor shift in outlook can make you less gloomy.

Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a Yale psychology professor specializing in depression, has studied people’s tendency to brood when facing a problem. She found that a simple, 10-minute diversion can turn self-punishing thoughts into action.

“The quality of your problem-solving markedly improves,” she says. “When you’re ruminating, the negative thoughts are so strong that it’s hard to inhibit them. But even after a moment of distraction, those thoughts aren’t activated anymore. It’s like pressing the restart button when your computer is acting up.”

Tricking your mind into doing what it perceives as a logical, cerebral task—even something as simple as updating your calendar—can stop you from mentally spinning your wheels.

— Adapted from “Your Happiness Plan: What Really Makes People Happy,” Jessica Winter, O, the Oprah Magazine.

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