And I love it, because it reminds us that we are creators and we get to have a say in the kind of day we’ll have. We get to choose how we’ll react to the circumstances that make their way into our lives.
This is good news, particularly if you’re having a so-called bad day. You can do it differently. You can use those bad feelings to learn about yourself and create a new, perhaps more uplifting, or at least interesting, experience.
Here are five ways to do it:
1. Get curious about the emotions you’re feeling. If you’re feeling low, that’s a clue that you need to get quiet, and tune in to the things in your life that may need some clear-headed attention. Our emotions pack powerful insight and offer instinctual clues about things that are working – or not. They are a built-in alert system of sorts. Instead fussing over the bad feelings, pay attention to what the bad feelings might be trying to tell you.
2. Take what you need. If you need time alone, ask for it, and create the space to make it happen. If you need supplies for a creative project, go get them and set aside time to put them to use. If you need a doctor’s help or acupuncture treatment, make an appointment. Want to go for a walk with a friend, do it. Often when we’re feeling low, it’s because we have strayed from our passions and needs. Decide what makes you feel good and give some time to it. You can take care of yourself without taking from others. Just be clear about what you need right now to be a healthy person and then respect yourself enough to make it happen.
3. Give. To yourself. To others. To animals and the environment. Do something for another creature or living being and you’re bound to feel better. You can’t help it. Your body is wired to send feel-good chemicals racing through your system when you act kindly. But instead of just writing the check or volunteering at recess or making the casserole for a sick friend, become mindful to the process and your experience of it. Note the enjoyment you feel. Pay attention to the response from others. Experience the sensation in your body. This is a way to sustain the good-feelings that come from giving long after the experience is over.
4. Call a friend. Social connection is a biggie, particularly when you’re feeling low. I picked up the phone and called a friend that I rarely talk to today and I’m buzzing with feel good energy now. It was just fun to laugh with her, it was helpful to get her perspective, it was healing to be surrounded by her love and support. If there is no one in your life right now that you feel like calling, consider resurrecting an important relationship that you let slide or take steps to form some new ones.
5. Steer close to what is important. Sometimes, persistent negative feelings – exhaustion around your job, anger at your spouse, sadness over a change – can be a sign that we are moving too far from our core values. When we live close to our value system, we tend to feel greater happiness or at least contentment. If, you feel down every Monday, that’s something to pay attention to. Take inventory of your top five values and look at the activities you take on in daily life that support those. If there aren’t many, you need to add and subtract a bit. Add in one or two things a day that align you with your values – for example if a healthy body is one value head to the gym before work. When you are doing at least a few things to support your values each day, you’ll feel better.
Watch for more about this in Wednesday’s post on sustainable happiness.