To have a Good Bad Day, make sure to:
1. Exercise. Exercise is a key element to managing moods. It calms and energizes at the same time. Its rituals are comforting. It’s productive, but not intellectually or socially demanding. Also, exercise is so obviously a key to good health that if we manage to exercise, we feel like we’re doing something worthwhile in our day, no matter what else happens.
2. Do something nice for someone else. One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy (also known as the “Do good, feel good” provision). Send out some emails that you know would be useful for other people. It doesn’t sound like much, but it takes a lot out of us.
3. Stop ruminating. Our inclination might be to go over and over the details of the upsetting episode and to conduct imaginary arguments. Instead, to keep our resolution to find an area of refuge. Studies show that dwelling on negative thoughts amplifies their power in your mind. In fact, some researchers suggest that the reason more women suffer depression than men is that women are more likely to “over think,” while men are better at distracting themselves from negative thoughts.
4. Connect with someone important to me. Call your sister or a friend.
5. Tackle a nagging task. Crossing things off a to-do list is energizing and cheering. Take the time to clear your desk—not just physically removing piles of papers, but also doing the tasks that the papers represented. Copying research notes from various sources, making a dentist’s appointment, and making progress on your blog redesign will give you a feeling of control and accomplishment.
6. Do something silly and lighthearted with your children. Videotape your four-year-old as she dances and sing in her mermaid costume with her new mermaid doll, have a family bubble-blowing extravaganza. And throughout all these steps, try to …
7. Act the way you want to feel. Research shows that although we think that we act because of the way we feel, in fact, we often feel because of the way we act. We get worked up very easily, but try to act cheerful instead of allowing yourself to get agitated, wring your hands, etc. Stay calm.
8. Ask for help. Say to your husband, “I really need to talk to you. I’m really upset, I want to tell you what happened today and talk to you about it, okay?” Being a sympathetic listener might not be your husband’s strongest point, and truth be told, he might not be very comforting, but by explaining that you need him to try to do his best to help, you have helped him do the best he could.
But if nothing really worked. You still feel lousy. Make sure to …
9. Go to sleep early. It’s true, everything does look better in the morning. Also, the longer we work on our happiness project, the more importance we give to sleep. Getting enough sleep just makes a tremendous difference to happiness.
When we wake up the next morning, we will feel better. The situation might still upset us, but not as much as it did. When we had a bad day, it helps to have a good bad day.