If you’re like me, then it’s not unusual to wake up in a bad mood or to suddenly feel sad, angry, or frustrated for seemingly no reason. While I try to stay upbeat and positive, especially when my daughter is around, I’m hormonal and moody and totally unpredictable...most of the time. But, I’m lucky enough to have a dad who is a life coach. (While I was growing up, he was a Type A workaholic who ran a family business, but for the past ten years, I’ve been able to access free coaching whenever I need it!) Typically, when I’m faced with the stress and aggravation that comes from running my own business, my first response is to pick up the phone and seek out my dad’s advice.
So, after losing it on my daughter this morning (because she’s two and prefers to not listen to me!), I called my dad in hopes of turning today’s bad mood into a blog post. I figure we can all benefit from a simple recipe that could help transform a bad mood into a HAPPY one.
Step 1: Feel the emotion you’re feeling.
No matter if you’re sad, mad, grumpy, or stressed, there’s a reason you’re feeling the way that you are, and it’s important to express that emotion rather than suppress it. You see, according to my dad, emotions are energy in motion, and if you want to feel better, you have to let the lower and slower emotions (sadness, fear, anger, etc.) run their course. There's nothing wrong with sadness or anger—they may not feel as good as happiness or excitement, but they're valid just the same and deserve to be expressed. If you don't express them, what usually happens is that they get stuck somewhere inside of your body and turn into pent-up aggression and rage, which typically results in a blow up of some sort (i.e. me screaming at my two-year-old this morning, because she was drawing on her stomach with marker!) or, if left long enough, they can turn into an illnes or disease.
So, the first step in getting happy is actually expressing the emotion that’s preventing happiness. “Don’t judge yourself or beat yourself up for feeling down or afraid or stressed out,” my dad reminds me. “Instead, have a good cry, hit a pillow, yell and scream, write down all your fears, have a conversation about what you're feeling—anything to allow yourself to process the emotions.” Another technique that works well is breathing or meditation. Plant your feet on the ground, take a huge cleansing breath — in and out — and if you can, quiet your mind for a few minutes and just sit with the mood you’re in.
“There is nothing wrong with being angry, but holding on to that anger can have detrimental effects,” my dad tells me.
Step 2: Allow the shift to happen.
Now that you’ve expressed your feelings, it’s time to move toward a place of happiness. There are a lot of techniques that can help you do this. Here are just a few that work for us:
Step 3: Be in the moment.
Once you’re feeling happy, don’t immediately rush back into whatever task awaits you—be it a work deadline or a mountain of laundry. Instead, enjoy the feeling of being happy for a while—whether that means going to the park and playing with your kids, or letting a creative project (like a painting, song, poem, or craft) flow through you, or expressing your happiness by sharing it with someone else in your life, or doing something totally spontaneous and out of character, or doing something just for you, or checking off an item on your to-do list that you’ve been putting off for a while. Whatever action you take while coming from the energy of happiness, it will be that much more enjoyable and productive. Be in the moment.