Why wallow in negativity when there are so many ways to feel better?
Have you ever had one of those days when absolutely everything seems to be going wrong? If you’re human, you’re probably nodding your head or responding to the screen with a resounding, “Yes!” We’ve all had the mornings when traffic is at a standstill, the nights when you come home after a long day and find yourself in a fight with your partner, the days when you feel under-appreciated, aggravated, upset and physically drained at the end of the day.
On these days, it’s tempting to host your own personal pity party. But instead, we see it as an opportunity to put into practice some of the amazing skills and tools we’ve been learning about choosing happiness and turning negative thinking around—if not into a cheery mood—at least into a neutral, rational one.
1. Focus on your strengths.
One of the best things we can all do is focus on our strengths rather than deficits. In the midst of a bad day, you’re probably not thinking about all of the skills, talents, and positive traits you possess, but honing in on these can be an excellent way to elevate your mood and focus more on what’s positive in your life. Want to identify some of your strengths? Check out the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. Knowing your strengths and possibly putting them to use will help you feel more empowered—even in the midst of a terrible day.
2. Embrace gratitude
We say this a lot, and that’s because gratitude is a powerful tool for rerouting your mood. Instead of focusing on what’s going wrong or what you lack, focus on what you have in your life and what’s going right. Studies have shown that those who consistently practice gratitude experience more positive emotions, more pleasure and more happiness. Say thank you to those around you, write a thank you note or make a list of what’s going right in your life.
3. Make a positive connection
When you’re having a bad day, it might feel tempting to withdraw from the world and avoid interacting with others, but one of the best things you can do for yourself is connect with other people. Spending time with those you love—particularly those who are positive influences on your life—can provide a great mood boost. So when you’re struggling with a bad day, make a plan to meet a friend for coffee, go out on an impromptu date with your partner or take a break from work to chat with a favorite colleague in the break room.
4. Take a break from social media
On a tough day, it can be helpful to limit time spent on social media. When you look at sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you’ll typically only see the best versions of people sharing their happiest moments. When you’re having a really hard day, these images can make you feel even worse. Take a time out from social media and you’ll cut down a bit on your FOMO feelings.
5. Get physical
When your mind is racing with all the negativity, one of the best ways to get out of the rumination cycle is to do something physical. Get back in touch with the present by practicing yoga, going for a run … the possibilities are endless. If you don’t have time (or energy) for exercise, try a simple walk around the block to clear your mind. Focusing on something physical can be a great way to bring you out of a cycle of negative thinking and it will give you a boost of positivity on a really tough day.
Dani DiPirro is an author, blogger, and designer living in a suburb of Washington, D.C. In 2009, she launched the website PositivelyPresent.com with the intention of sharing her insights about living a positive and present life. Dani is the author of Stay Positive, The Positively Present Guide to Life, and a variety of e-books. She is also the founder of Twenty3, a design studio focused on promoting positive, modern graphic design and illustration.