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Don’t Perpetuate the Unhappiness Cycle

Having a bad day? Fed up with a part of your life? Feeling angry with a loved one? It’s understandable that you may be suffering from negativity and in a bad mood. The problem is, not only does this bad mood affect you- it also affects those around you. When you’re feeling down and disgruntled, you may unintentionally take this out on others.

For example, maybe you started the day with spilling your coffee all over the kitchen and your car being blocked by someone, causing you to be late for work. You may notice that when you get to the office, you speak sharply to coworkers or that on your coffee run later you don’t tip the barista.

When you’re having a bad day, that’s when it’s most important to exude positivity. Having a negative attitude towards others due to your own suffering will only attract more negativity. Instead, try treating others with more kindness and positive regard- and you will see that that is returned to you.

Here are five simple ways to brighten your mood when having a bad day, while also not perpetuating the cycle of unhappiness.

  1. Cultivate self-awareness. You know yourself best. Take some time to recognize your mood and get to the root of why you’re feeling that way. Perhaps you’ve been having trouble with your spouse and notice yourself feeling bitter towards your friend who is getting engaged. Making this connection to why you are feeling this way is an important step.
  2. Take care of yourself. We’ve all heard the saying that you must take care of yourself before you can care for others. Think of it like when you are on an airplane and the safety instructions tell you that in case of emergency you should put your oxygen mask on before assisting others. If you can’t breath, you won’t be any good to anyone else. Sometimes you have to stop what you’re doing and put yourself first, like taking a mental health day off of work, cancelling plans at the last minute, or relinquishing a responsibility.
  3. Change your perspective. When you’re in a bad mood, you are biased towards seeing the world in a negative light. Everything seems more annoying and gets to you so much faster than it would if you were in a good mood. Recognize this biased perspective, and actively try to change it. Attempt to think and do the opposite of what you may be doing. If you’re driving and getting angry with the traffic and people cutting you off, instead think to yourself, “This is just part of life, maybe those people are just in a hurry because they have to use the restroom.”
  4. Make a list of positives. When you’re stuck in a negative mindset, it can be hard to see the other side. You may think, “My life stinks, and I don’t know when it will get better.” In times like this it can be helpful to make a list of everything that is good in your life and for which you are grateful. This can be past experiences, like that time you travelled to Costa Rica, loved ones, things like having a car or smartphone, or your unique talents such as being a fast runner or good at math. This list will help you remember that there are great things in your life, and though you may be going through a tough time, you have gotten through tough times before.
  5. Fake it ‘til you make it. So you’re having a bad day, which is likely causing you to walk around with a frown on your face, to complain about your misfortune, and be grumpy overall. Think about how you feel when you see someone scowling, griping, and focusing on the negative. You likely feel uncomfortable or put off, and want to get away from that person. Don’t be that guy. Make an effort to smile at others, compliment a coworker, tip your waitress well, and hold the door for someone. These small pieces of positivity will make others feel good, which will reflect back to you, mending that negative mood.

Everyone has days where they wake up on the wrong side of the bed. These are the days when it is most important to get up, put a smile on your face, and find positivity. If you feel like you’re stuck in a negative rut, Symmetry Counseling is here to help.

Author: Grace Norberg, AMFT

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