The Number One Habit To Develop In Order To Feel More Positive

Would you like to reverse depression, anxiety, or negativity in your life?

Would you like to experience peace of mind and joy?

Then you need to become an expert about “ANTs.”

Dr. Daniel Amen coined this term in the early 1990s after a hard day at the office, during which he had several very difficult sessions with suicidal patients, teenagers in turmoil, and a married couple who hated each other.

When he got home that evening he found thousands of ants in his kitchen. As he started to clean them up, an acronym developed in his mind. He thought of his patients from that day – just like the infested kitchen, his patients’ brains were also infested by Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) that were robbing them of their joy and stealing their happiness.

He started teaching patients how to eliminate all of the ANTs because they are what drive depression, what stoke anxiety, and what fuel negativity.

Every single time you have a thought, your brain releases chemicals.

Every time you have a sad, hopeless, mad, cranky, unkind, judgmental, or helpless thought, your brain immediately releases chemicals that make your body feel awful. Your hands get cold and wet, your muscles get tense, your heart beats faster, and your breathing becomes shallower. Additionally, the activity in your frontal and temporal lobes decreases which negatively affects your judgment, learning, memory.

The opposite is also true – whenever you have a happy, hopeful, loving, kind, or positive thought, your brain releases a completely different set of chemicals. Your hands get warmer and dryer, your breathing becomes deeper and more regular, your muscles relax, your blood pressure decreases, and your brain works better.

So, if you want to eradicate depression, anxiety, and negativity from your life, you need to work on disciplining your mind to get rid of the ANTs and developing an ANTeater to patrol the streets of your mind.

Just as there are a many species of ants in the world, there are different kinds of negative thought patterns (ANTs).

Here are a few you need to learn to identify:

• Fortune Telling – this is the ANT of almost anyone who has a panic disorder. They are masterful at predicting the worst, even though they don’t have any evidence.
• Mind Reading –where you arbitrarily believe that you know what someone else is thinking, even though they didn’t tell you. Many people do this, and more often than not it gets them into trouble. It’s a major reason why people have trouble in relationships.
• Guilt Beatings – thinking with words like should, must, ought and have to. The words we use to talk to ourselves are very important. Guilt is not a very good motivator for change. Telling yourself “I should go see my grandmother” rather than “I want to spend time with my grandmother” only serves to make you feel negative.
• Blame – whenever you blame someone else for the problems in your life, you are a victim and you can’t do anything to change it. Many of us play the blame game, but it rarely helps us. Stay away from blaming thoughts and take personal responsibility for changing the problems you have.
• Labeling – calling yourself or someone else a derogatory name. This diminishes your ability to see situations clearly and labels are very harmful.

So now that you have met some of the ANTs that rob you of your happiness and peace of mind, what do you do about them?

Whenever you find yourself feeling mad, sad, nervous, or out-of-control, write down what you are thinking. Then identify which ANT species is infesting your mind and talk back to it.

Challenging negative thoughts (killing the ANTs) takes away their power and gives YOU control over your thoughts, moods, and behaviors.

Learning how to kill the ANTs and develop an internal ANTeater has been shown in scientific studies to be as effective as antidepressant medications to treat anxiety and depression!

To learn more about how to develop an “ANTeater” or how Amen Clinics can help you with the depression, anxiety, or negativity in your life, contact us today at 888-288-9834 or visit our website.

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  1. Heléna Kurçab says:

    Wonderful article. Totally agree.

  2. Eileen Labrecque says:

    Every one, whether a parent teaching your child, a business person stressed out and feeling overwhelmed, students, whoever can incorporate this great tool as a CBT!

  3. Aamir Shah says:

    Good one, thank you!

  4. Denee says:

    Nice reminder. Battle is in the mind. All to brain health. Thank you 🙂

  5. Steven Online says:

    A good ANTidote

  6. Geneveive says:

    Thank you, Dr Amen, for your wise article. However, I’m still not quite sure how to approach things, killing ANTS, when reliving past extreme trauma.

  7. Roy says:

    What does any of this have to do with severed heads rolling down the street?

  8. Elizabeth Dupray says:

    Love the acronym!! CBT is helpful in many areas….but it is a process to let the concepts sink in! It’s usually after the fact that I remember that I have ANTS!! 😀 Lol

  9. Buck Mahon says:

    Write down your negative thoughts?? Really? Is that your solution to get rid of negative thoughts. Great, now i have them in front of me reminding me all day. Is that all you got? We write things we want to remember. It seems like counterproductive BAD advise to me.

  10. Pam says:

    All these negative people are the ones you are talking to…just like me….little fortune telling going on…ha…dr amen…you’re the greatest…

  11. Diana goodrich says:

    Could you please email me the information about Lyme disease again. I seem to have accidentally deleted it.

  12. David Mann says:

    Your ideas are worth their weight in gold.

  13. Sonia says:

    I have used this method in the past, but I found it very tiring, as I get racing thoughts and it is exhausting to capture them even the “hot thoughts”, I have trauma and I get the same ANTS over and over again. Also, please email me as the information on Lyme disease.

    Thank you;


    • Amen Clinics says:

      Of course Sonia, we will send the information on Lyme disease to you via email. Thank you for reaching out.

  14. Camile says:

    I try to counteract 1 negative thought with 2 positive thoughts. While not perfect at it, I have progressed.

  15. Camile says:

    One challenge for me is the news. Many people simply avoid it. I don’t see that as a wise option for myself. I do want to understand current events but not feel defeated or angered by them. I am trying to read instead of watch the news, limit my time, & be mindful that some things are going right, especially, in my own life. Any good tips on how to not be ignorant about the current world and yet remain glad about one’s life?

  16. Dr Prakash Murawala says:

    Please add me in your mailing list.
    Very useful atricles.

  17. David Smith says:

    The ANT Eater is the cornerstone of my Formula For Success handout ( But, I use perhaps an earlier version that I can’t find now, the one that asks “What if the opposite is true or truer than the original?” Negativity is a problem but so is the narrowness of our thoughts even when positive. When the opposite of a thought is considered as an option, then everything in between can also be evaluated. Its the most powerful tool I’ve seen to broaden our thinking and break out of our boxed in thoughts. Then we can test a wide range of thoughts, choose the best, and turn it into a routine or habit. I tell people this way you may end up doing what everyone thinks is impossible, and do it without even thinking about it.
    Do you have a link to the the version that takes the opposite? The link on my handout is broken.


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