GOT A (*?!@&) ATTITUDE? At this time of shorter days, low-pressure fronts, and colder temps, it’s all too easy to get caught up in negativity. Even though I just wrote a book about worrying less, it doesn’t mean I’m never in a bad mood. It just means I have effective tools to change it.
Here I share a few of my favorite ones.
Recently I’ve been upset by some not-so-gently-delivered criticism, a loved-one’s illness, and a bad reaction to some medicine. When such things appear to “go wrong,” my ego claims, “This shouldn’t be happening!! Let’s figure out how to change it!” Then the overthinking begins — and peace is lost. It might take a while to admit that I’m focusing only on what I don’t like. But eventually, I realize that I need to do something to restore my peace of mind.
In this case, I did a guided meditation, made a gratitude list, and took a short walk. My bad mood vanished! Here are more of my favorite ways to turn around a negative attitude.
14 Ways to Fix a Bad Mood
1. Check to be sure you’ve eaten well and rested well. If you haven’t, take better care of yourself. Avoid over-work, over eating, over-drinking, and drugs.
2. List five things you’re grateful for. Do this every day without repeating any item.
3. Meditate and/or pray. Use the free app, Insight Timer or other tools. Do this every day for at least ten minutes.
4. Exercise, walk, or do yoga. These activities are proven to increase positive brain chemicals and feelings.
5. Do something nice for someone. Smile at a stranger, compliment a server, or send a friend a loving note.
6. Listen to uplifting music or podcasts/radio; read inspiring books or blogs; or watch a positive movie (I loved “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” about Mr Rogers).
7. Talk with a healthy, supportive friend who has a positive attitude toward the world.
8. Give yourself permission to turn off negative TV or radio broadcasts. Also avoid extended time with negative people.
9. Avoid gossip and look for the strengths, rather than the faults, in the people around you.
10. Stop using the words “should” and “ought.” Cultivate the habit of humility—admit that you don’t know everything and just let some mysteries be.
11. Imagine that someone you love is feeling the way you are. Then say to yourself what you would say to comfort that person. (Self compassion: See Kristin Neff).
12. Know that your thoughts and feelings do not define who you are; that you have a choice about what fills your mind. Slowly breathe in goodness and breathe out negativity. Keep doing this until your body and mind calm down.
13. Write down your thoughts and feelings and see which ones are really true. Are they permanent? Is there another way to look at the things that bother you? Circle the ones you know are untrue and turn them around (to learn how, see “The Work” by Byron Katie)
14. When in a conflict, WAIT a day or two before acting. Use the techniques here to calm down and find peace. Do not try to change minds or resolve conflicts through any electronic means. Face-to-face communication is best for relationships you value (yes, it takes courage to listen and share).
I’m so grateful that, once I decide to fix my bad mood, I have the tools to do so. And they work! Ahhhh . . . I feel such peace!
Gigi Langer is the former “Queen of Worry” who holds an MA in Psychology and PhD in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. She is a popular speaker who has helped thousands of people improve their lives at home and work. Gigi hasn’t had a drug or drink for over 30 years, and lives happily in Michigan with her husband, Peter and her cat, Murphy.
For specific tools to overcome negativity and worry, check out my award-winning book “50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking to Find Peace, Clarity, and Connection.”