10/10/2015 14:32 BST | Updated 10/10/2016 06:12 BST

I Reluctantly Practised the Science of Happiness for a Week - And It Works

I'll be honest and say that I thought twice (actually it was more than that) before writing this.

After all, the science of happiness sounds like a corny oxymoron coined by someone who lives in the mountains and eats berries three times a day.

Now I am not knocking this lifestyle but I can confirm that I am not any of the above.

I live in the city, live off Pret and haven't been to a mountainous region since my holiday in August.

However, the phrase took me by surprise while I was doing research for an article I was writing on World Mental Health Day.

As part of my research I spoke with a psychiatrist, Dr Stephen Lawrie of the University of Edinburgh, who was telling me about the various treatments that exist for depression.

Alongside medication, patients also have access to cognitive therapy, which tries to challenge negative thoughts, he said.

"What it probably does is alter the kind of pathways that are activated in the brain when we are thinking about things."

And then he said something that caught my attention. "Thinking is habitual."

Negative thinking is a learned activity, just like when you learn to play a sport, he added.

Similarly, positive thinking also takes practice and it can be learned. Thinking on certain things affects the kinds of pathways activated in the brain.

What he was saying is, if you always look at the glass as half empty - that is all it will ever be.

You have to train yourself to see it as half full.

Turning a bad day into a good one is a conscious effort. Dwelling on whatever is good and worthy of praise doesn't come naturally.

They say misery loves company and I will the first one to admit that whinging is quite an attractive past time, whether you do it with a colleague, a friend or even internally.

A rude Starbucks barista suddenly becomes a story worth talking about while you wait for your Americano with three shots of espresso.

Bad news from a good friend suddenly occupies your entire commute home, because worry is hard to shake off.

What Lawrie was saying however, is that the more you dwell on the negative the more you're training your brain to think negatively.

And like everything else, practice makes perfect.

The next time you are at Starbucks and you encounter a rude barista, it takes less time to get on a negative train of thought.

The key to stopping that spiral is to catch yourself before you jump on that train.

This week, I tried something I have not done before. Everyday, I made it a point to find five good things to think about at the end of the day.

Regardless of all the things that went wrong, I jotted down five things that went right. This ranged from getting a free coffee at Pret (told you I live in Pret) to having a good conversation with a friend.

Again, I don't mean to sound like some cloud-loving freak but I found the act of searching for the good helped changed my outlook.

We all have grey days when everything is meh.

Finding five good things may not change the colour of your day but it could help you get on a less negative train of thought and maybe one day, we will be quicker to see silver linings.

I certainly saw a few more silver linings last week than expected - nothing extraordinary, but still worth a note to myself.