Let’s face it, we all experience bad days. And oftentimes, a bad day can quickly result in a bad mood. Ups and downs are a natural part of life. Although challenges and setbacks can’t always be avoided (and can often be great life lessons!), how we choose to respond to those kinds of situations is the one place we do have control and responsibility.
We can choose to escalate the situation with negative thoughts, or we can turn it around with a positive, constructive attitude. Either response you choose can create a very different set of outcomes: one reaction supports us, while the other actually hurts us.
When I get into a negative mindset, I call upon the ultimate disruptor of negative thinking: gratitude. For me, gratitude immediately chases away negative thoughts. Try this: think of something you are grateful for today. Did it bring a smile to your face? It’s almost impossible to hold on to a negative thought and a grateful thought at the same time.
A powerful practice I learned from my husband that immediately resets my attitude is this: every night before bedtime I make a habit of writing down five things from that day for which I’m grateful. This practice not only prepares me for a more peaceful slumber, but it also sets me up for the next day. I wake up looking forward to my day ahead. I have a gratitude awareness that’s with me all day, revealing to me the unexpected ways gratitude can be found, even in the small things – like when a stranger opens a door for me when my hands are full, or when a store clerk helps me find something, or when a friend calls just to say hello, or when I come home at the end of the day and my dogs are EXCITED to see me! There are so many ways we can notice gratitude around us, if we’ll just take the time to look.
Negativity isn’t something to deny or repress. And it isn’t something to be afraid of. But overcoming negativity is about a choice - a personal choice to live your life moment-by-moment with thankfulness, in a way that feels genuinely good. So the next time you feel a bad mood coming on, remember you have the power to disrupt it right then. Turn it around with gratitude and a smile.