“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” – Jim Rohn
Not one of us is immune to the occasional bad day; it happens, it sucks, now what?
While we may not be responsible for everything that contributes to a bad day; it is our responsibility to control what can be controlled. At any point, we can decide to do something different and make each day better. Too many people nowadays cede their inner happiness to outside influences – at work, home or elsewhere; but happiness is not determined by our environment unless we allow it to be.
Miyamoto Musashi, widely considered to be among the best warriors of all time, once said: “There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.”
The purpose of this article isn’t to dwell on the philosophies of happiness or lack thereof. In retrospect, citing the master swordsman and philosopher Musashi may have been aiming a bit high (sorry!) It is a great quote, though, isn’t it?
Anyways, we’re simply going to list 15 things that we can do to make each day better. It is our sincere hope that, by implementing one or more of these, that you have a better today, tomorrow, and future.
15 Good Ideas For A Bad Day
1. Breathe mindfully
Breathing is life, and life is breathing – an all-important facet in today’s crazy world.
Modern society embraces “the rush” of consumption, competition, improvement, 24/7 news…constant activity, in other words. We don’t necessarily “want” culture to influence how we behave, and we don’t have to.
Solely taking 5 deep, mindful breaths relaxes our body and mind; taking us away from the circus for a bit.
2. Drink plenty of water
Can you survive on one or two glasses of water a day? Sure. Is it a good idea? Absolutely not. Drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water daily is a natural elixir to both mind and body.
Make a habit of carrying a full water bottle everywhere you go. You’ll discover that maintaining proper hydration may just be enough to turn a bad day into a good one.
3. Make your bed
Admittedly, there is nothing fun about making your bed; so why do we include this monotonous activity? Because mindfully making your bed a daily habit provides a sense of accomplishment. Small victories matter in maintaining a positive outlook throughout the day (more on this later.)
4. Take a shower
Or, if you’re pressed for time, splash some cold water on your face. Both have a way of rejuvenating a lethargic body and mind. For added benefit, take a shower or wash your face with mindfulness (unwavering attention).
5. Get outside
Research has shown that immersing yourself in nature is one of the most powerful stress relievers there is. For one, the body is exposed to sunlight which can naturally replenish energy reserves. Also, you’ll be getting a bit of exercise; this will provide some needed oxygen and blood flow to the brain and body.
6. Get a snack (no junk food)
Consuming a natural, well-balanced diet is key to maintaining a healthy mind and body. When our blood sugar levels drop, we’ll inevitably feel sluggish and irritable. While it may be tempting to reach for some candy, snacking on healthier alternatives – nuts, dried fruit, or seeds – provides vital nourishment that sugar-laden snacks do not.
7. Change your environment
Today’s office environment can be depressing and stifling. If you have the option of taking some of your work elsewhere, take advantage. If not, use your break and lunch times to get away.
8. Listen to some upbeat music
Music has a wonderful way of instantly changing our mindset to a more positive one. There is a physiological reason for this; the brain releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins when exposed to the music we enjoy.
An Oxford University professor explains: “Psychologically, endorphin release is experienced as a mild opiate ‘high,’ a corresponding feeling of well-being, and light analgesia.”
9. Accomplish something small
Upon awakening, it is not unusual to run a “to-do” list through our head before we even get out the door; this can quickly manifest into a sense of overwhelm.
One way to circumvent this response is to accomplish some small task with our full attention. This can be packing your kid’s lunch, brushing your teeth, shaving, driving to work, and so forth. This prepares the brain for more challenging things ahead – and with a more optimistic mindset.
10. Get some exercise!
Exercise can be a brisk 10-minute walk in the morning or a full-fledged workout. We needn’t rehash the abundance of research proving the benefits of exercise. Suffice to say that little else, if anything, is better for health and promoting a positive frame of mind.
11. Watch or look at something cute/funny
Similar to exercising and listening to music, laughter and joy causes our brain to release feel-good hormones. Watch some short YouTube clip that gets you rolling, or find some cute pictures of dogs on your phone.
12. Write down your thoughts
Writing down our thoughts serves as a “release.” Instead of compartmentalizing and revisiting the same thoughts (a lovely trait of the brain), writing things down – or better yet, keeping a journal – allows us to organize our many thoughts and release the stress that often accompanies them.
13. Get to bed!
Having and keeping a consistent, healthy sleep schedule does more than ensure a good night’s rest. Research has shown that quality, routine sleep improves concentration and memory; mood and energy levels, and helps maintain a healthy weight.
14. Exercise your mind
If you’re like everyone else, you have to work for a living. Work can be monotonous, boring, and downright stressful. Too often, our brain development stagnates as a result.
Do something you’ve always wanted that requires an active mind: learn a foreign language, take up an instrument, do a crossword puzzle, download a “brain training” app, learn how to draw…the opportunities are endless.
Your brain will sharpen; your confidence will increase, and you’ll be anxious to tackle the challenges in days to come!
15. Be mindful
We touched on this a bit earlier, but mindfulness can completely change your outlook and your life.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), explains: “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It’s about knowing what is in your mind.”
The key phrase: non-judgmentally. Not allowing negative thoughts to derail your happiness; and promoting feelings of relaxation, positive affect, and happiness.
Douglas, S. (2013, January 15). Study: Performing Music Gets Us High. Retrieved March 21, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/study-performing-music-gets-us-high/267138/
Foundation for a Mindful Society. (2015). Jon Kabat-Zinn: Defining Mindfulness. Retrieved March 21, 2017, from http://www.mindful.org/jon-kabat-zinn-defining-mindfulness/
Main, E. (2012, March 9). The Natural Way To Calm Down. Retrieved March 21, 2017, from http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/emotional-health/spending-time-outside-relieves-stress
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