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Taylor Swift's Attitude of Gratitude

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Swift's Attitude of Gratitude

When she isn't near a treadmill and finds herself getting caught up in negative thinking, Swift has learned to divide her thoughts into two categories: "things I can change" and "things I can't."

"You'll always be worried about something, but if you can cut that list down by even the smallest amount, that's good," she explains. "You only have so many hours a day, and if you can focus the energy on only the things you can control, it's more productive."

Swift's quickest way to get back on track is expressing gratitude. "The fact is, my life is amazing, so when I'm getting too much in my own head, I try to say all the things I'm grateful for. It can be simple things, like if I'm complaining about how my cellphone is working slowly, I think about how slowly they worked five years ago. It's OK to have glass-half-empty days, but not too many of them. I place a higher priority on being happy than I do on freaking out."

Swift practices the same skills taught by Amit Sood, MD, director of research for the Mayo Clinic's Complementary and Alternative Medicine Program. Focusing on what's positive is a powerful tool that goes beyond making us feel happier: "Studies show that people who are more optimistic tend to have better physical health, lower risks of strokes and heart disease, and higher overall survival rates," Sood says. "They also have better emotional health, lower stress, lower percentages of depression, better relationships, and are better equipped to solve life's problems."

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."

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