(This is the second of two columns on negative thinking. Today's column is about ways to be more positive.)

A common cold, exhaustion, stress, hunger, sleep deprivation, even allergies can make you depressed, which leads to negative thoughts.

However, in many cases, depression can be caused by negative thinking, itself. Our feelings follow what we are thinking, and dwelling upon negative thoughts can send us spiraling down into depression.

I found many techniques for fending off negative thoughts and becoming a happier person. The following are ones that worked for me.

Ÿ Negative thoughts can sneak into your mind and, before you know it, you're focused upon them. The first step is to identify a negative thought so you can cast it away. The best way I know to label a thought is to ask yourself if thinking it makes you feel lousy. Examples:

Life has no meaning. Most people are rotten. I'm weak. I hate myself/everyone. The future is awful. What's wrong with me? I'll never make it. What's the point of going on? Was I ever happy? I'm letting everyone down.

Ÿ Pray or meditate every chance you get. These reduce stress and lead to joy and peace. I use this technique whenever I'm forced to wait anywhere but in traffic. Good use of what would be wasted time.

Ÿ Take naps. Even a 15-minute power nap will improve your state of mind.

Ÿ Walk in a pleasant, natural setting the woods or park. The beauty, exercise and fresh air are all tonics.

Ÿ Recall all the happiest, most serene moments in your life. Weddings, births, vacations, successes. Dwell on these moments instead of the garbage dumped into your mind.

Ÿ Remind yourself that negativity hurts you. It's worth the effort to be positive, because it makes you feel better.

Ÿ Read positive quotes. These will uplift you because of their message and the realization that so many wise people are life-affirming. A good place to find upbeat messages is in The Book of Positive Quotations by John Cook. Or, search the Internet for "positive quotations." There are many websites that offer inspiration.

Ÿ If you think negatively about someone, recall one of their good traits.

Ÿ Smile though your heart is breaking … There's wisdom in those lyrics. It's harder to be sad if you smile. The principle of this technique works with body language, too. Walk with your head up and shoulders back.

Ÿ Avoid negative people if you can. They will bring you down.

Ÿ Help others. The psychic income is invaluable. And you will stop thinking about your own troubles.

Ÿ Gratitude. Count your blessings got to be a cliche because it works. If you're not grateful for what you have, you can never be happy.

Ÿ Have fun. This is difficult when you're down. You're not in the mood for fun. You have to force yourself. After you've had some fun, you'll feel better.

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