Career hardships, relationship issues, and money problems, all coming at you without permission; life is not easy, is it? According to the Washington Post, 62 percent of Americans say work has a significant impact on their mood. Another survey found that one of each 10 Icelandic is on anti-depressants while a third one says the Chinese market has expanded from 10.4 to 26.1 billion dollars between 2005 and 2011.
Steps to a Better Mood, According to Science
So yes, the world is in mood crisis. Between social media and how fast life moves, the road to tranquility isn`t well-paved. But does this mean you shouldn`t try? Though there are many ways to ruin a good mood, science has also found a way to improve a bad one, by following these steps.
1. Don`t try too hard
You shouldn`t expect happiness to be something you must pursue all day, every day, for the rest of your life. Living with this naïve assumption will backfire at you. According to studies, obsessing about happiness can be self-defeating because the more you value happiness the more likely you will feel disappointed.
What you should do when hardships come is admit, and embrace, it instead of hiding behind denial. According to this study; getting emotional after failure will help you improve in future events.
The next time you fail a test or someone rejects you admit it didn`t go well instead of rationalizing the situation. This will motivate you to improve and give you control. Something you couldn`t get if you blame it on the teacher or the interviewer.
2. Stay around happy people
When it feels bad, don`t pick anyone and go somewhere nice, but pick someone nice and go anywhere. This is what happy people do.
According to Moran Cerf, you can learn anything by being around those who are good at it. Cerf, a neuroscientist who spent years studying decision making believes we become happy and make better decisions when we align ourselves with happy people who make better decisions.
Desirable attitudes will rub off on you when you spend time around people with desirable attitudes. Soon you`ll copy those behaviors while spending energy trying to force a change. Want to have a better mood? Hang around, happy people. It`s this simple.
3. Embrace sunny days
Sunlight exposure is very important to your health since, according to studies, it increases the release of Serotonin; a hormone associated with tranquility and a better mood.
It`s important that you enjoy the warmth of the sun and make a habit of it. How? By forcing it. People who don`t get enough sunlight usually work at night or work from home. This is why you have to be smart against instinctual laziness. Sign up for weekly yoga classes in broad daylight or shut the internet so the only option you have is walk to the nearest Starbucks. Things like that will kick away procrastination.
Personally, I allow no internet after 11 p.m. It took me a month to adapt but it feels amazing and gives me more energy.
4. Smile more often
There has always been a link between how one`s face looks and the emotions we feel. According to psychologists at the University of Cardiff; people whose ability to frown is compromised by cosmetic botox injections are happier, on average, than people who can frown. So yes, smiling will ease a bad mood even if you force it.
Take one minute each morning to smile. Stretch your mouth, draw the biggest smile you can ever have and hold it for 60 seconds. It will make you feel better.
5. Say: I will worry about it tomorrow
The worst thing you can do is give worries the time to grow. These thoughts are usually not true and ruin your mood. Acknowledge your worries and postpone them instead of wasting energy on resistance. If you do so, your mind is more likely to leave you in peace.
Ramit Sethi has a famous technique for chronic worriers which he calls it the Worry Vault. According to him, whenever he feels worried about something in the future, he throws it into a vault at the back of his mind and tells himself “I`ll worry about it tomorrow.” It has worked for him, and will work for you when you try it.
6. Practice gratitude five minutes a day
Another study had three groups. The first wrote about things they were grateful for (Positive). The second listed all the problems they faced during the week (Negative,) while the third wrote about the big events that affected them during the week (Neutral). Ten weeks later; Group-1 participants felt happy, motivated and optimistic about the future.
7. Avoid the 3 Killer Ps
Asking yourself “how much worse could it have been” can improve your mood. Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook believes avoiding these 3 Ps will make you feel better again:
- Personalization: Believing every bad thing happening is your fault.
- Pervasiveness: Thinking this negative event will affect all areas of your life.
- Permanence: Thinking the aftershocks of the event will last forever.
After tragically losing her husband in 2015, Sandberg wrote:
Studies found that children and adults recover more quickly when realizing that hardships aren’t entirely their fault, don’t affect every aspect of their lives, and won’t follow them everywhere forever.
Journaling and Cognitive Behavior Therapy are keys to acknowledging these 3 Ps is. According to studies; people who practice expressive writing before stressful events perform better, feel less stressed and consume less energy than those who don`t.
What about you? What is the one thing that always helps you to get a better mood? You can share your comment in the comment section below 🙂