Happiness is not a finish line. It’s a journey. Life has peaks and valleys and miserable mud pits, and even the happiest people see the bottom rung every once in awhile.
This can be a tough pill to swallow. It feels like progress should present itself as an escalator to awesomeness, not a craggy path of ups and downs and belly flops.
But feeling bad isn’t failure. We’re humans. It happens.
So when those shitty days come — and come, they will, here’s what can you do to deal:
- Let yourself feel bad. It may sound counterintuitive, or you may equate this with wallowing, but it’s really about acceptance. Bad feelings will come, and we can’t (and shouldn’t) talk ourselves out of all of them. Allowing ourselves to feel the negative emotions is often the key to getting past them. It’s ok to be a downer every once in awhile.
- Keep a notebook detailing positive progress. Gush on the good days. Then, if you have a record of all the happy times, you’ll be more easily reminded how far you’ve come when the bad ones strike. Whenever you feel fantastic, on top of the world, like a ray of sunshine, write about it!
- Distract yourself. Sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with a little redirection of your attention. Getting out of your own head is a good thing, since it can be a dark and dreary place up there. Take a walk, meditate, read a book, listen to comedy, play with your dog. Whatever gives you a break from the bad.
- Do a good deed. It may sound simplistic, but there’s nothing like putting a smile on someone else’s face to pull you out of your own unhappiness. Do something kind for another human (or animal!), and your bad day will fade into oblivion faster than last night’s crappy dinner.
- Make a gratitude list. No matter how unpleasant your day may seem, there are still 8,972 other things in your life to be grateful for. Find ’em. There’s serious power in realizing all the amazing things about your life, and how lucky you really are.
Above all else, be patience. It will pass, and you’ll find good times again. I swear, there are so many smiles in your near future.