We generally think of ourselves as positive people, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the occasional (OK, more than occasional) negative thought. Here, seven common ways you might not even realize you’re letting negativity creep into your life and how to turn it around.

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Shooting Down Other People in a Brainstorm  
It doesn’t even have to be as blatant as saying, “eh, that’s a bad idea” to your colleague. (In fact, that would be pretty rude.) There are much more subtle ways you might be discouraging someone during a meeting. Think nonverbal cues like looking down at your laptop or interjecting your own thoughts before you let them finish speaking. A simple smile or nod of acknowledgement can empower a person to share his or her ideas, which makes for a positive and more productive meeting altogether.

Venting Too Often to Your Friends 
You meet up for drinks with your friends and immediately the talk goes to how frustrated you are at work—or how Dave is driving you crazy with his piles of dirty clothes at home. And hey, we all need to let off a little steam, but it shouldn’t be the driving force of your interactions. Before launching into a full-blown tirade about the annoyances of your day, consider a) if you really want to relive any of it again, and b) how you’d feel if your friends were constantly doing the same to you. Besides, isn’t it so much more fun to talk about upcoming vacation plans—or the latest episode of This Is Us?

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Feeling Better at Someone Else’s Expense
Why is hearing the latest gossip about your old roommate going through a nasty breakup so, err, intriguing? And why can’t we help but be amused when we see someone trip? OK, before you feel like a terrible person, know that it’s human nature to feel this way. (The Germans actually coined a term for it, “schadenfreude,” which basically translates to pleasure derived from another person’s misfortune.) And sure, it might be entertaining or a nice diversion from whatever it is that’s really bugging you, but any good feelings you might get from talking about someone else’s problems are fleeting at best. Instead, use that time and energy on yourself.


Busy woman talking on the phone at her desk

Constantly Talking About How Busy You Are
Yes, we’re all busy—pretty much all of the time. (We swear there’s a direct correlation between each year we age and the amount of things we have to do.) In any case, talking about how busy you are is sort of like stating the obvious over and over again. Use your hard-earned free time to do the things you actually enjoy, like cozying up with a good book or sipping wine in your tub.

Not Compartmentalizing
If you had a bad day at work, it’s hard (really hard) not to come home and mope a little—or rant to your hubs about how crazy your boss is. And hey, we’re not saying you have to put on a happy face or pretend that something isn’t bothering you, but focusing on it isn’t going to help. Instead, shift your attention to the other aspects of your life that make you happy—like your insanely cute dog who’s currently sitting at your feet, waiting to be pet. It’s all about living in the moment, y’all.

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