4 Ways to Have a Better Day

by Kate Luther on 28 February 2011 3 comments
Photo: hidesy

Yesterday was a great day.

The weather was warm, the sun was shining, and my hair actually did something semi-normal. I checked several things off my to-do list, I tried a new recipe (and it worked!), and I managed to clean out my closet to boot. (See also: Finding New Recipes Without Paying for New Cookbooks)

All in all, I'd give it two thumbs up.

Of course, not every day ranks quite so well. Despite our best efforts, sometimes things just won't go our way, and the more we push, the more the Universe seems to push back.

This tug-of-war is often the beginning of an ugly little cycle that can cause us to spiral down into a black hole of anger, despair, and frustration.

And the angrier we get, the more things seem to go wrong.

The reason for this cycle is simple: That negativity you're generating can only breed more negativity, meaning that it's almost impossible to accomplish anything good when we're busy raging against the woes of the world.

As a result, that bad mood of yours makes you more likely to start an argument, stub your toe, break a dish, and lose your keys. And until you shake that negative energy, you're probably going to see more of the same.

Fortunately, days like this don't have to be a total loss. Here are four ways to turn things around and have a better day.

Retreat

When my kids act up, I give them a time out. Time to sit and think, time to catch their breath, and time to relax and reboot. And on most occasions, this strategy works. So, why wouldn't it work for grown-ups too?

Taking a time out gives you the opportunity to rethink your current state of mind. Okay, so things aren't going your way, but is it really the end of the world? Is this really how you want to spend your entire day? Is there something more positive you could be focusing on instead?

A brief retreat is often all we need to stop the cycle and gain some new perspective. Take a walk, take a nap, or simply shut your office door. Remove yourself from the company of others and relish your quiet time alone. You may not resurface as optimist of the year, but it will give you time to collect your thoughts and calm your mind, two key components to getting through the rest of the day.

Release

If you find yourself lashing out at everyone who crosses your path, it might be time to get that anger out of your system. For some, this could mean having a good cry or calling your best friend to vent. For others, it might mean going to gym and unleashing on a punching bag.

Whatever your vice, just remember to keep it under control. Getting things off your chest can be therapeutic as long as you don't let it get out of hand. There's a fine line between letting off some steam and working yourself into a frenzy, and if you're not careful, you'll end up in a worse mood than when you started.

Fake It

Zig Ziglar once wrote "You can't feel your way into a new way of acting, but you can act your way into a new way of feeling," and in many cases, this mentality actually works.

Forcing yourself to act as if things are great can often leave you feeling much better, even though your circumstances haven't really changed. As William James said, "We don't sing because we're happy...we're happy because we sing." Fake a positive outlook long enough, and you'll often find that you're no longer faking.

Flip It

If you're wondering how in the world you're going to pretend that your bad mood doesn't exist, this is a good place to start.

Years ago, my husband and I found ourselves in a bit of a financial pickle. A series of unforeseen events had ravaged our savings. We were suddenly living payday to payday, and those checks were stretched very thin.

Needless to say, the stress was enormous, and my initial instinct was to wallow in my own despair. We had worked hard to get to where we were and then BAM! Just like that, we were back to square one. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair at all. And I wanted someone to do something about it.

Of course, then I realized that I was that someone. As unfair as the circumstances might've been, they were still circumstances that needed to be dealt with, and I essentially had two choices: I could moan and groan about the unfairness of life, or I could find a way to make things better.

I chose the latter and found myself a part-time job. It wasn't long before things started looking up again, and we had a little breathing room in our finances. We also learned a hard but valuable lesson about money management and planning for our future — a lesson we might not have learned otherwise.

In addition, this part-time gig turned out to be more lucrative than I would have ever imagined and was effectively my first step toward leaving the corporate world and venturing out on my own.

It wasn't easy, of course, and I can't say that I was ever thrilled about working two jobs at that point in my life, but knowing I was taking control of the situation was a feeling I wouldn't soon forget.

That experience taught me how to say "It is what it is" and move forward, something I find very useful when things aren't going my way. Yes, the circumstances might still suck, but if I can find a way to flip the situation and turn it into something positive, I know I'll get past whatever obstacle might be standing in my way.

Do you have a tip that works for you? If so, share it in the comment section below.

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Kimber

I agree 100 %... It is what it is & move on...

Andrea Karim's picture

The Sneaky Hate Spiral is so hard to avoid! (http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/05/sneaky-hate-spiral.html)

I use music to cheer up - I don't tend to listen to music as background noise, so when I need a pick-me-up, music is a great way to change my mood instantly.

Mikey Rox's picture

I had a better day because of this. :)