For my clients with depression/sadness, I often suggest this intervention, borrowed from “solution-oriented” psychotherapy. What it involves is noticing the small (sometimes very small) things that are going right on a daily basis. Examples of small things that go right on any given day: I had a good cup of coffee/tea. I had a nice hot shower/bath. I styled my hair different today and liked it. The convenience store clerk smiled at me. I said, “Good morning,” “Thank you” or “Have a good day” to a clerk/person at a drive through/delivery person I met today (it’s important to remember that we feel better when we do kind things for other people). Someone complimented me on my [fill in the blank]. I complimented someone on their [fill in the blank], and they smiled. I had a meeting with my supervisor and it went OK. I wore my comfy pants today. My lunch sandwich was tasty. If we are having a particularly rough day, we pay attention to the things that were just “OK.” So, I encourage my clients to either keep a running tab of the things that are going right in their day or to, about an hour before bedtime, list off all the small things that went right with their day. You may find that you get an emotional “lift” from making this list. You should NEVER make a list of the things that are going wrong — chances are, you are already thinking about that way too much.
So, the point of this is that, not only does depression cause negative thinking, but negative thinking also causes us to feel depressed or sad. You can flip the script and start noticing that, in fact, for the most part, more good or OK things tend to happen to us than things that actually go “wrong.” We have just been trained to focus on the bad/negative stuff. So, make a commitment to retrain yourself. When we start thinking more about what’s going right, the world seems a bit brighter.