Some days feel so terrible and heavy, like you’re one of those sad little orphans in A Series of Unfortunate Events or at the mercy of Murphy’s Law. Days so low that even the heartiest bowl of pho cannot salvage it. I know. What can’t be remedied by carbs!? I’ll blame my savage mood on the weather, lack of sleep, crossing a black cat, mercury in retrograde – legit reasons. But sometimes you just gotta call it what it is: A bad friggin’ day.
The hardest part about it is understanding that having a bad day isn’t a reflection on who you are as a person. There are starving children in Africa, who am I to have a bad day? But we do, and when we do we need to give ourselves permission to feel whatever we feel – even if it’s negative – instead of internally berating ourselves for being ungrateful or a horrible person. We’re only human!
That being said, this doesn’t mean that I wallow in misery and don’t at least attempt to shake off the dark clouds clinging to me and when possible, head it off at the pass. Through trial and error, I’ve crafted a morning routine that works to better position myself to have a good day.
I refrain from checking my phone for the first hour after waking. I make my bed to feel like I’ve already accomplished something for the day. I eat a fantastic breakfast to avoid hanger (for the safety of others). Before I even emerge from the downy softness of my bed in the morning I’m trying to improve my mood by power posing à la Amy Cuddy, stretching my limbs to take up as much room as possible (try it!).
I’ve found that the most essential part of my morning – dare I say even MORE important than breakfast – is meditating.
You can find numerous studies on the benefits of consistent daily practice (tangent: although with Google these days, you could probably also find an equal number of articles vehemently against meditation and that it actually causes warts) but personally I find it puts me in the right frame of mind to start my day.
This particular meditation, Jonathan Lehman outlines 7 affirmations that puts into perspective what is really important and helps to – as his he says – “switch on the happiness button in your brain.”
Here’s what I’ve taken away those affirmations and applied them to life to try and improve my happiness:
Even if it’s as simple as letting other people get into the elevator before you, exercising patience will remind you not to rush through life. Slow down and enjoy the little things in between the big things, like good weather or your walk home.
Achieving goals requires planning but it’s also necessary to understand that your wants and needs are constantly evolving. If you can maintain an open mindset, you’re much more likely to attract all the opportunities that life throws in your path instead of immediately disregarding it because it wasn’t “part of the plan.”
It’s mind-boggling when you and really think about how the body functions and all the things that it allows you to do. Take care of it by eating nourishing food and by being active whenever possible. It’ll up your energy levels, send endorphins to your brain (making you happy) and you can feel satisfied that you made use of your body.
Instead being consumed by your internal turmoil and fixating on the minutiae of your personal woes, focus on how you can improve someone else’s day. Whether it’s just smiling at a Starbucks barista, complimenting your co-workers haircut, or giving your full attention to a friend telling a story, knowing that you’ve made someone’s day even fractionally better, will boost your mood.
When you are in a bad mood, the temptation to engage in a good bitchfest is overwhelming. While there’s no denying that at times it can be cathartic, you’re reinforcing those negative feelings internally by dredging it up and articulating it. On top of that, people don’t need more negativity and insecurity (they have their own) so give them positivity instead!
A lot of happiness is derived from feeling like we’re making progress but that’s hard to achieve if you never venture beyond your self-defined comfort zone. It is key to adjust your mindset to associate challenge with growth versus as a threat to your ego. Don’t let fear guide your actions!
You don’t need to be pretty, thin, smart or talented to love yourself. You don’t need to have a shelf full of awards or own a home by 30. Don’t wait for other people to tell you when and why you are worthy of loving yourself. You must love yourself just as you are, unconditionally, because it’s essential to your happiness.
And when all else fails my foolproof methods of mood improvement are photos of chubby babies, corgi puppies, and ex-boyfriends who’ve gotten massively overweight. To each their own.