By Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project via DivineCaroline
A few days ago, I was extremely upset. It’s too complicated to explain the whole situation, but an encounter left me feeling anxious, agitated, under attack, and sad. I did what I could to resolve the situation, but I still felt terrible.
When I have a day like this, I try to make it a Good Bad Day. I take the steps that tend to make me feel better or, if they don’t make me feel better, at least give me the kind of day on which I can look back with satisfaction.
To have a Good Bad Day, I make sure to:
1. Exercise. For me, exercise is a key element to managing my moods. It calms me and energizes me 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 I manage to exercise, I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile in my day, no matter what else happens.
2. Do something nice for someone else. The first part of the Second Splendid Truth is “One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy” (also known as the “Do good, feel good” provision). I sent out some emails that I knew would be useful for other people. It doesn’t sound like much, but it took a lot out of me.
3. Stop ruminating. My inclination was to go over and over the details of the upsetting episode and to conduct imaginary arguments. Instead, I tried to keep my 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.