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10 Cognitive Restructuring Techniques For Greater Happiness

How you think about problems matters a lot

Does thinking about your problems cause lots of stress? Do you feel overwhelmed when facing a life challenge? Hoping to find strategies to help you feel more empowered?

If the answer is yes, you’ve come to the right place. That’s because I’d like to share with you ten cognitive restructuring techniques designed to reduce your stress and generate greater happiness.

Some of these may seem like no-brainers. Others may cause you to pause and reflect. I encourage you to read them all and see what best applies to your life.

Check it out.

1. Avoid the playing the blame game

It takes courage to recognize you are responsible for many challenges you meet. Even if someone’s mean, how you view circumstances is up to you.

When you blame another person, you let them control your well-being. It’s far better to take charge of your destiny.

Accept culpability and you have the power to improve your life.

2. Create new mental pictures for stressful events

Whatever you picture stays alive in your mind. You feed memories when you go over them and focus on the worst parts.

As you do so, you revive painful emotions and deepen neural pathways in your brain that help you return to angst.

If you can’t stop creating mental images of unwanted memories, play with what you see. Change them from color to black and white.

Put a frame around them. Shrink them and add a silly cartoon character voice to lighten the mood and the pictures may fade.

3. Recognize life lessons

Everyone must deal with problems. Happy people consider setbacks stepping-stones to their greatest achievements though. Without them, they wouldn’t discover what to do or increase resilience.

Think of problems as life lessons. As long as you learn from them, they are valuable.

4. Talk about what works

The saying “it’s good to talk” isn’t always true. Sometimes it’s better to sit in silence and seek inner wisdom rather than tell everyone your problems.

When you talk about difficulties often, you focus on negativity.

Before you can feel better, you must alter your mood. So, leave unproductive exchanges with pals for times when they offer wise advice unless you want to stay unhappy.

5. Know your problems won’t last

Some challenges seem huge at the time you meet them. You think they will never leave. All situations change however. Even those you want to stay the same will alter over time.

Your problems will shift, and in a few weeks or months you may wonder why they upset you in the first place.

Bear this idea in mind when you face troubles and train yourself to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

cognitive restructuring
How do you think about your problems?

6. Encourage helpful conversations

Doesn’t it feel great when people agree with you? Nonetheless, do you really want your confidants to approve of the reasons you give about why you should be unhappy?

Rather than strive to get friends to agree with you and strengthen your misery, ask them to help you recover. Seek wise counsel from people who offer fresh perspectives.

7. Consider solutions

Never hang your hopes on one solution. If you think there’s only a single way to solve problems, you narrow your vision of what might be and miss opportunities to manage well.

When in debt, for instance, a bank loan isn’t the only way out. Maybe you can sell something, start a small business, or borrow funds from a family member.

Think big. Consider there must be plenty of ways to deal with problems. Brainstorm ideas.

Jot them in a notepad even when they seem silly, and you’ll come up with ways to cope and improve.

8. Understand you are not alone

However strange the problem you face, you’re not alone. Many people are going through similar difficulties now and plenty will later too.

If you don’t know how to cope, find out how other people deal with similar difficulties and learn from their mistakes and successes.

9. Trust your inner voice

Many people who love to give advice will appear out of the blue if you talk about your problems. Their way of coping, however, may not suit you and they might offer bad advice.

Follow guidance only if it’s useful and after carefully looking at other measures.

People might offer sensible counsel, but discount advice from individuals who insist you do as they say. Only you know what’s best for you.

10. Let go when it’s time

People sometimes cling to the past. They revisit old problems so often their memories become part of who they are in the present. They identify with painful events that color everything they do and think.

If you are hanging on to a problem, recognize the time has come to let it go.

When you forgive people who have caused pain in your life, you surrender negativity and regain your emotional freedom and get back to the business of living.

Wrap Up

The way you think about your life struggles largely impacts your mood. By shifting your perspective and changing your lens, greater happiness is possible.

What would it be like to reframe your thoughts today?–

I’d love it if you check out my show, “The Men’s Self-Help Podcast”. You can find it on iTunes and Spotify.

10 Cognitive Restructuring Techniques For Greater Happiness

John D. Moore, PhD

Described as folksy and down to earth, Dr. John Moore infuses current events and pop culture into his posts as a way of communicating wider points on issues related to wellness and goal attainment. His work has been featured in nationally syndicated media, including Cosmo, Men's Fitness and CBS Market Watch. He is a consultant to a number of Fortune 500 companies and institutions of Higher Learning. Dr. Moore is author of Confusing Love with Obsessionand Editor in Chief at: Guy Counseling.

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APA Reference
Moore, J. (2019). 10 Cognitive Restructuring Techniques For Greater Happiness. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Jun 2019
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