So many of us undermine our own happiness with negative, self-defeating thoughts. Being overly self-critical makes it very hard to be happy and content.

If this sounds familiar to you, try not to beat yourself up about it. You’re not alone. It’s very common. And the good news is there are things you can do to think more helpful thoughts and as such, enjoy more positive emotions …

via Inverse by Sarah Sloat

THE PHRASE “CHEW THE CUD” means to further chew partly digested food — but many of us use it to mean something rather more abstract. The scientific word for this is rumination: A process of breaking big things into smaller parts that can then be dealt with or used. It’s apt that we use the same word for the human tendency to feast and dwell on our troubles.

While researchers are still working out exactly what rumination involves, it is generally used to mean excessive, repetitive thinking about personal problems. It often results in emotional distress and it is associated with many mental health issues — especially depression.

Positive rumination, meanwhile, involves focusing on positive states and thoughts. This can improve your health and wellbeing, explains Dane McCarrick, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Leeds who studies rumination.

“In general, we need to learn more about different types of rumination and how they respond to different treatment types,” McCarrick says. “There is no one size fits all approach.”

This article will focus on negative rumination — which can also hinder problem-solving and drive away needed social support — along with the tools researchers have identified as useful in mitigating it. Rumination can get us stuck in a rut. With help, you can get out.


Rumination involves thinking too much about causes and consequences rather than solutions. Getty Images

Negative rumination involves “repetitively and passively focusing on distress as well as its possible causes and consequences,” explains the authors of a 2012 paper. It often involves over-focusing on negative, self-defeating thoughts. This, they write, can result in thinking too much about causes and consequences rather than solutions.

In a study published in March 2022, scientists explain that metacognitions about rumination strongly influence long-lasting depression — metacognition means thinking about your own thought process and these thoughts and beliefs can be positive or negative.

In this case, positive metacognition related to rumination might be “thinking about the past helps me prevent future failures.” Negative metacognition, meanwhile, could be the thought that “thinking about my problems is uncontrollable.”

Ultimately, the study emphasizes that while both can contribute to depression, negative metacognitions are likely the best predictor of brooding. Some scientists argue rumination can be broken into two factors: brooding and pondering. Pondering leads to developing problem-solving strategies, while brooding involves passively comparing a present situation to more desirable — and often unattainable — outcomes.

Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair is a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the senior author of a study which specifically examined how brooding — an element of rumination — influences rates of rumination among adolescents. While we all ruminate, it becomes more of an issue when the thought control mechanisms “suppression and distraction” don’t work, he explains.

The solution to rumination is “understanding that it is something you are doing but isn’t helping and just not start — or stop if you’ve started,” Kennair says. Unfortunately, this is quite challenging to do because of the nature of rumination…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE