Look, my life is pretty wonderful.
Not in a ‘yes, let’s brag about my incredible life of joy and adventure and constant beauty’ kind of way, but rather in a ‘let’s look at my life in comparison to much of the world’s population – the struggles, famine, war, catastrophic disasters, serious illness and death’ kind of way.
But the reality is that some days are still bad.
It could be lack of sleep, crappy diet, politics at work, an argument with your partner, no exercise, kids pushing your buttons, no parking spots, a whole heap of laundry, or just a bad, bad mood. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
And no, none of that is so terrible in light of the list written above. No-one is seriously ill, no-one is foreclosing on their house and no-one’s relationship is breaking down.
But when you’re living a shitty day, it can be really hard to find that perspective. It can be very difficult to see that, truly, it ain’t so bad.
Since I started simplifying life, I’ve had less bad days. There is less pressure, less stress and less clutter to contend with. There is more time for fun, more space for rest and more opportunity for spontaneity. But bad days? Yep, I still have ’em.
But I am getting better at managing them. And here are three ways I’ve learned to harness my negative mindset and turn it around.
And while these will not alleviate serious illness, fix marital problems or pay off debt, they do help me to put my problems in perspective. Which sometimes IS all it takes.
1. Music Soothes the Savage Beast
What song makes you really, overwhelmingly happy every time you listen to it?
It might be silly like Psy, or make you wanna dance like Travolta. It might make you cry with beauty or belt out a tune. Whatever it is, listen to it. Let it shift that crankiness. Even just a little bit.
I have an entire Spotify playlist called ‘Happy Tunes for THOSE Days‘. On it you’ll find Little Red, The Isley Brothers, Paul Simon, OK Go, The Middle East, Beastie Boys and Weezer. I haven’t met a bad mood yet that can withstand ‘Call Me Al’.
You Can: Create your own playlist of happy music on iTunes, Spotify or your phone. Or, if you don’t use digital music, why not make an old-fashioned mix-tape or CD?
2. Do SOMETHING
We all have busy-ness. We have endless lists of things to do. And at any one moment you could spend your time on 10 different tasks.
Sometimes that feeling overwhelms us and makes us feel there is no point in starting. Why bother, when the work keeps piling up?
But instead of giving in to the malaise, force yourself to do something. Just one thing. Do that load of washing. Make that phone call. Start chopping vegetables for dinner. Do five push-ups. Write that email. Drink a glass of water. (No. Seriously. Drink a glass of water. You’re probably dehydrated.)
And once that thing is done, allow yourself to celebrate. You just had a win!
Bad Day = 0 You = 1
You Can: Think about the immediate tasks that need to happen. Focus on small tasks and choose one that will be easy to complete. Then go do it. Once you’re finished, let the momentum move you forward.
3. Tell Yourself that Today is Going to be a Good Day
Say it out loud. Say it while standing in front of the mirror. Say it in a ridiculous accent. I don’t know why, but it helps.
Perhaps the act of saying it out loud makes you realise the majority of the negativity is in your head. Perhaps it’s a little bit absurd. Perhaps it’s both.
You Can: Literally tell yourself that today will be a good day. Look into your own eyes, smile and say, “Today will be a good day,” even if you don’t believe it.
These three things have helped me turn numerous bad days around. And, while life is not all sparkles and unicorns, creating a little positivity where there wasn’t any before is a hell of a lot better than crying into my coffee at 9am. If, however, these three tips fail you, it’s always helpful to go back and read the fifth paragraph of this post.
Tell me, what’s the song most likely to turn a bad mood around for you?