ONE Sunday morning, I was running in the Marina District of San Francisco with David, a psychiatrist friend of mine.
We jogged along the bay from the Marina Green to the Golden Gate Bridge and back again.
Afterwards, we were walking to cool down. The sky was clear and full of seagulls, the water was blue and full of boats, and the bridge arched over the entrance to the harbour.
As we turned back towards our car, the picture changed completely, now a vista of greenery, kites, joggers stretching, and rows of neat Spanish-style houses.
Turn a few degrees
David said: "You see what we've just done, Patricia? We have just turned around a few degrees, and it's like we're looking at two totally different cities.
"The good thing about my practice is that people only have to change their thinking a few degrees to have totally different lives."
You may have heard people say: "Well, it's not working where I am. I think I'm going to move to another state, divorce my spouse, sell my children, go into a different line of business, lose 20kg or bleach my hair blonde, and then my life will work."
When it comes to good mental health, sometimes what you really need to do is realise what you already have to be grateful for.
Just change your thinking a few degrees.
Very often, people get bogged down with their everyday trials and tribulations.
The next time you feel stale or frustrated, look at where you are and what you have from a slightly different angle.
Stop for just 60 seconds and focus on the things that make you proud and happy. It can be more uplifting than a week's vacation!
Spring-clean your life
Another way to renew yourself is to clean out the closets of your life.
Have you ever looked at the clothes in your closet with a critical eye - the bargain shoes in the wrong colour, the expensive suit you bought on sale that never fitted well, or the "great" shirt that was a gift from someone you love?
I had all of those items in my closet. Then a wardrobe consultant friend came over and made me clean out the clothes that did not fit or no longer represented my self-image.
It was an exhilarating feeling. Now the clothes I wear make me feel and look great, and project the image I like.
Your clothes closet is not the only hiding place for negative things in your life.
You have a self-image closet too. Take a serious look at what you find there.
Try cleaning it out. Throw out ideas that no longer fit your lifestyle or your experiences.
Clean your closet of certain people too - the ones who have become acquaintances. Too often, we spend our energies with people whose interests have grown apart from ours.
Clean the negative people out of your life's closet.
For example, some folks cannot accept your achievements, insisting it is only a "fluke" when you finally attain a great goal. Their own insecurities require them to shoot other people down. It is time to let them know you are proud of your achievements, and then move on to someone who will support you in your endeavours.
Closets may be hiding places for our outmoded clothes and ideas, but they are also where we store the building blocks for our daily lives.
Do not let them get cluttered with outdated ideas.