Here's a trick that will keep you happier and healthier

When I am having a lousy day, all it takes is seeing a cute animal -- or even a picture or video of one -- to turn my frown upside down. And, from what I've gathered, a host of people I know feel similarly. Indeed, certain stimuli, from pets to teddy bears to cartoons, can redirect our thoughts and put us in a better mood.

Beyond making you happier, such a strategy can ease tension and relieve stress, thus positively affecting your health. When we've hit a rough patch, it isn’t always easy to disconnect and focus on, say, a picture of a puppy or a memento from your childhood. But undoing negative energy begins with the mind. In order to extricate ourselves from negative feelings, we have to focus on positive things.

Maybe all it takes to help you unwind is a screen saver on your computer with tranquil scenes of nature, or a tabletop fountain whose soothing sounds melt your worries away, if temporarily. The mind is awfully powerful. Unless we do things to pivot our negative thoughts, we can become consumed by our problems.

Don't let that happen to you. Rid your mind of the negative and concentrate on more uplifting things --- those that make you smile, laugh, and tug at your heartstrings in a good way. It may not shut those negative thoughts out permanently, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

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