Economy Got You Down? Go Brightsiding

In the face of recent economic news, there are some people who respond to the spirit-crushing and downright scary headlines with a cheerfulness that's almost inappropriate.

It's called "Brightsiding."

It's based on the belief that, though you can't control the stock market or your job security, you can control your outlook on life. So why not stay positive?

VIDEO: New online movement has people focusing on positive messages.
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Tell us how you're looking to the bright side by clicking here.

The best online explanation of the Brightsiding concept comes from an original composition and animation called "Spread Joy." The composer, Mike Strickland said the idea just came to him.

"I was watching TV news one day thinking, 'There needs to be more positive messages being sent around the world,'" he said. "So I wrote a cheerful song called 'Spread Joy.'"

He posted the "Spread Joy" video on his Web site and on YouTube and exhorted people to forward it around. Click here to visit spreadjoy.net.

Michelle DeAngelis is a corporate coach and author of "Get a Life That Doesn't Suck."

She cites studies that confirm the efficacy of the Brightsiding concept. "Smiling causes the brain to release chemicals that alter your mood," she said. "So, faking it until you make it has some basis in science."

Another proven technique to lift your spirits is expressing gratitude, and the Web offers a variety of ways to spread this upbeat message as people try to create a viral backlash to the Debby Downer mood that's cast a pallor over our collective moods.

There are no comprehensive numbers on who's joining this grass roots campaign, but Facebook boasts several groups touting the benefits of Brightsiding, like Rebel Against the Recession and Recession Survivors.

YouTube can make you laugh with 51 jokes in 4 minutes, or mellow you out with this homage to Bobby McFerrin's classic '80s tune "Don't Worry, Be Happy."

The Gratitude Dance

There's also the Gratitude Group, in which members pledge to go online every day for 100 days and post something that they are thankful for.

And to combine all of the above ideas together, we have the Gratitude Dance.

This video, produced by the "Gratidudes," infuses an upbeat Caribbean tune with choreography that vaguely resembles a chicken at a square dance. Although there have been no studies done on the subject, you should try dancing it with a frown on your face -- it's impossible.

All of this may feel frivolous as people lose their jobs and struggle financially, but one thing that has been proven is that negativity evokes more negativity. But the theory behind Brightsiding is that we need to be energized in order to have the strength to pull ourselves up by our boot straps.

Breaking it down even more, to break the cycle of negativity, you need to compartmentalize: you do all you can to make your life, your family and your community better. But when you've done all you can, you need to think about something other than the hard stuff. You need to fortify yourself with laughter, positive thoughts and the joy of being with the people you love.

So, whether you lighten your mood by watching these videos or doing something fun with the people you love, remember that there is a bright side, and you can find it.

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