You know those days when everything seems to go wrong and you wish the day had a reset button? Well, amazingly, there is something that works just like one. A smile. So how do you reset a bad day with a smile when you’re already down in the dumps?
Well, although some research shows that forcing the face into a smile makes people happier, pretending to be happy makes you feel more miserable. A fake smile doesn’t work as well as a real one. (Although it isn’t that easy to tell the difference–test yourself here.)
On the other hand, if you smile, people are more likely to smile back at you and help you, so even a fake smile (if not creepy) can reset a bad day.
Find a real smile to reset a bad day
Here are two exercises that help you find a real smile: one that you can do without any preparation, and one that needs a bit of preparation (and is well worth the effort).
Sad to Glad
When something bad happens, be kind to yourself. It’s okay to be sad or angry when things have gone wrong. So don’t beat yourself up for feeling down as this will only make you feel worse. Reassure yourself that everyone has bad times, and they don’t last forever. Don’t get stuck in self-pity or anger, though. Use GLAD to move on.
- Good. What is good in your life right? Be grateful for any good things that are in your life. What opportunities are still available?
Learn. What can you learn from this? Is there anything you can laugh about? What will you differently in the future?
Action. What can you do to move on? Doing something constructive to put things right usually makes you feel better. If it can’t be put right, what can you do to stop it getting worse?
Done. If there isn’t anything you can do, distract yourself and do something different. Do something that comforts you like watching a favourite movie or reading a favourite book. Go for a walk, pet a dog, do some yoga.
Internal Resources to Reset a Bad Day
Creating these resources lifts your spirits too.
First, think of a time in the past when you experienced a strong positive emotion. It may be finishing a race, holding a new grandchild, graduating, receiving an award…anything that still makes you smile or feel good. Close your eyes and see the event, remember what you felt, what you heard and sensed. Go over it until you have a mental clip of film that you can bring to mind. You may want to add music you enjoy, imagine people you love, delicious food, a comfortable bed or favourite poems. Create a mental film reel of things that soothe, please and comfort you. Run it through your mind on a regular basis, so that it is vivid and easy to bring to mind. The next time you are feeling down, close your eyes, breathe slowly and deeply and switch on your inner film.
When you visit somewhere that makes you joyful, stop and savour the situation, creating a “pearl” or mental snapshot that you can bring out when you are feeling down. For example, several years ago, I visited the beach on a perfect warm sunny day. In the North East that is extremely rare, so I decided to create a pearl of the day that I could look at when things weren’t so great. I looked around, really noticing the colours of the sea, the sky, the birds, the boats. Then I closed my eyes and listened to the gulls screeching, the lapping of the waves, the laughing of the children. I smelled the sea breeze, let sand slip through my fingers. I made a conscious effort to imprint the experience on my mind. Now I can still bring back that day on the beach and it lifts my spirits.
So when you are having a great time, take a moment to savour it and imprint it on your mind. This will not only enhance your pleasure now, it will give you a treasure tucked away that will last for years.
If you’re feeling down, try resetting your day with GLAD. If you are having a great day, store some memories away for the future.
Please spread the joy by sharing this post.
And finally, here’s a recipe that will make everyone smile Old Fashioned Gingerbread