I don’t know about you, but when people try to tell me that I should look on the bright side or think positive thoughts, I generally want to punch them in the face. Sometimes I just want to wallow in my misery, you know? And it’s totally OK to wallow sometimes. We all do it. But other times, you just want to snap out of the funk you’re in. Staying positive on a day when nothing is going your way is hard, but not impossible. There are some simple ways to stay positive, even if you’re having a crappy day.
You know those days — you slept through your alarm, you have no clean clothes, you’re out of coffee, you miss you bus, your boss yells at you about something that wasn’t your fault, you step in a puddle in your suede shoes, and, to top it all off, you get catcalled as you’re entering your apartment building. You’re having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. But you can start your day over any time you want. Turning a bad day around can be as simple as changing the things that we tell ourselves about the day.
Even if your way of staying positive sounds like, “Today will be over in three hours,” that totally counts. Here are some other tricks for staying upbeat when the world has you down.
1. Just Keep Walking (Or Swimming)
Shake it off, girl. If you just put one foot in front of the other, you’ll find that, before you know it, you’ll have moved past whatever it was that’s getting you down.
2. Engage In Some Sci-Fi
In Octavia’s Brood, a science fiction anthology, American activist and author Walidah Imarisha writes about the power imagination can have on your mindset. “Anytime we try to envision a different world—without poverty, prisons, capitalism, war—we are engaging in science fiction,” she wrote. “When we can dream those realities together, that’s when we can begin to build them right here and now.” When the weight of oppression has you down, imagine a brave new world without it — and then think about how you can work to create it.
3. Change Your Narrative
The stories we tell ourselves have power. In fact, that’s the whole tenet behind narrative therapy — if we change the story we tell ourselves, we can change our reality. So instead of lamenting the traffic jam you were stuck in on your way to work, instead cherish the extra time you got to spend in your car listening to your favorite playlist.
4. Let It Go
They say that resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die, and it’s true. If you’re feeling particularly wronged by someone else, that’s crappy. But letting it ruin your day is giving them way too much power over you. Don’t let someone else have so much control over your feelings; take them back for yourself.
5. Pay It Forward
It turns out that doing nice things for other people can actually make you feel better. Smile at the cashier at CVS and ask how their day is going. Buy coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks. Go out of your way to call your mom just to say hi. Even if your motives are a little bit selfish, the outcome is positive for everyone.
6. Keep It In Perspective
In the scheme of your life, how big of a deal is it really that your friend blew you off for coffee or you have to work late or your Internet is out? It’s probably pretty insignificant. Keeping things in perspective can make them seem not nearly so bad.
7. Remember That Tomorrow Is Another Day
Every day you get to wake up and start over. No matter how much your day sucks, if you can just make it to bedtime, you’re golden.
8. Look For The Silver Lining
When I’m in a lot of emotional pain, I like to tell myself that it’s “growing pains.” The reason that I’m hurting is because I’m being given the opportunity to grow as a person if I want to take it. It makes sitting in the pain so much easier, and I know that I will come out the other side better for it.