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Taylor Swift's Attitude of Gratitude

Practicing Positive Thinking

How can you cultivate a more optimistic attitude? Sood says practicing these simple acts on a daily basis can help you lighten up.

Focus on what went right instead of what went wrong. If someone made your coffee weaker than you like, think, "'I'm grateful someone made me coffee.' By being grateful for the little things -- a stranger's smile, a beautiful flower -- you increase your gratitude threshold."

Implement the five-year rule. "If you get a parking ticket, you could be upset about it all day, but you won't remember it in five years. If it isn't going to bother you in five years, don't let it bother you now."

Recognize the importance of lessons, however painful. "See the world as a giant school of and opportunity for learning."

Play the name game. Before you get out of bed in the morning, skip the anxious-making laundry list of the day in favor of naming five people for whom you are grateful. Send out a silent "thank you" to them.

Practice kindness to yourself. "It's difficult to enjoy what you have if you are always trying to improve. Everything you have can be better. Instead, focus on how perfect everything already is."

Swift has coped by writing music, but she says she also now understands that power of being kinder to herself. "One thing I've had to work on is being really tough on myself. My mom says that when I was a kid she always felt bad punishing me because I always punished myself the worst when I made mistakes, locking myself in my room and feeling so bad that I did something wrong or hurt someone. But when I'm writing, I can't second-guess myself. You have to be confident enough to have ideas."

Asked what advice she would have given herself two years ago if she had known then what she knows now, Swift, who turns 23 in December, demurs. "I wouldn't tell myself anything because I've learned so many things in the last two years by experiencing them fully, and learning the lessons completely," she says. "Advice wouldn't have changed that, but even if it might have, the best way to learn lessons is by going through things completely."

The gift lies in getting to the other side, where, from a place of perspective and grace, one might be able to talk -- or sing -- about one's struggles, letting others know they aren't alone. "No matter what path my life follows," says the singer, "I'm always going to be exploring every aspect of human emotion. And I'll always want to get better." At what, exactly? At that, Swift lets out a wonderful laugh. "At everything."

Taylor Swift's Top 10 Favorite Things

1. Favorite drinks: "Smartwater and Starbucks"

2. Kate Somerville moisturizer. "But any kind of moisturizer that you put on before you go to bed will make your skin softer."

3. Makeup bag with black eyeliner, red lipstick, and tinted moisturizer 

4. Pearl earrings and necklace she keeps in her change purse. "I'll throw them on if I need to suddenly dress up at the end of the day and don't have time to change my clothes." 

5. Pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses 

6. Camera

7. Tester of her new perfume, Wonderstruck Enchanted

8. An hour of cardio at the gym. "I try to exercise a lot."

9. Getaways with friends. "My girlfriends and I went to Charleston, S.C., last year on vacation, and I can't wait to go back."

10. Time alone, watching TV with her cat. "That's all it takes."

Find more articles, browse back issues, and read the current issue of "WebMD the Magazine." 

Reviewed on September 13, 2012

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