How to Quickly Change a Negative Mood into a Positive One

by Henrik Edberg

How do you change how you feel?

There are many ways. Some of them need work over a longer timeperiod.

If you for instance do what you set out to do from day to day your self-esteem will, over time, go up.

However, on some days you just fall into a slump. You feel a bit negative. Or just not that motivated or energetic. You don’t care that much really.

I have found that certain actions can work as a new starting point on days like that. A starting point that you can build upon and that leads the day away on a more positive note than you may have predicted.

Here are six of my favourite/most effective ways to pick yourself up and turn a bad/boring mood, morning, afternoon or evening into a more positive one. All of these suggestions are things you can do pretty quickly. Some of them can radically change how you feel in just a few minutes.

Image by Nav A.

Work Out.

Whether you go out running in the forest or head inside to pump iron in the gym, getting some exercise is one of the most effective ways to add energy and a more positive outlook to your regular day.

Personally I prefer free weights most of the time because I can use them at home and because such a work out provides me with an energy boost topped off with a nice jolt of testosterone. And that boost always sharpens my focus and lifts my spirit.

The interesting thing is that sometimes it will be enough to exercise for a few minutes to improve your mood. For instance, you can try to do 60 sit-ups. This micro-workout usually changes how I feel.

Listen to/watch inspirational material.

I have found that this one of the best ways to start your day. Instead of reading the paper and getting hammered with negative news and views on the world try watching or listening to one of your favourite personal development products. Reading works too, but listening and seeing creates a more three-dimensional experience – with room for the always important body language and voice tonality to be included – and adds emotional power to the information.

Some of my favourites at the moment are the audioversion of The 4 Hour Workweek, just about any tape with Brian Tracy or watching a video by Eckhart Tolle. If I feel a bit down I just consume one of those sources for 15-20 minutes. After that not only has my mood changed. I’m also just about always reminded of some useful tip that I can use to improve my life.

Change your physiology.

If you change how you move and use your body your mood will change. If you for instance want to feel happier, force a smile for about 60 seconds. You’ll feel happier. If you want to feel confident stand up and walk around for few minutes in a confident way (slowly, head held high, posture relaxed but not slumped). You’ll feel more confident.

You can do these things for the specific effects.

But a better way to use your physiology to change your mood is to just combine everything at once. Smile while you’re walking around in a confident and relaxed way. Get it all in there to maximize the effect.

One key to better use of this technique is to focus on your body and changing your movements but to then turn the focus outward, into the world around you. Doing that has recently given me more dependable and consistent results.

I think that may be because if you focus outward you don’t become that self-conscious. If you on the other hand keep your focus inward – on what you are doing – while you are moving around with a changed physiology you become self-conscious. And that self-analyzing and nervous self-consciousness counteracts much of the positive emotional effect that you can create by changing how you move and use your body.

Appreciate away.

Perhaps the corniest suggestion in this bunch. It’s often seen as cool – or funny – to go around complaining and being a bit negative about everything. Going around appreciating isn’t that cool.

But gereally I’d say that almost everyone likes and finds a positive person to be cool. And a very effective way to become a more positive person and to enjoy your life more is simply to develop a habit of appreciating more.

If you want a few suggestions, here are a few of the things that I like to appreciate:

  • My food.
  • The weather.
  • My health.
  • Friends and family.
  • This blog and the opportunity to write about what I want.
  • You, the reader.
  • My roof and the heating. Especially since it’s been raining constantly for the last few days. :)

The funny thing is that if you just start appreciating something you can very quickly start jumping around with your attention and appreciate just about anything around you. You may start with the food you are eating right now. Then move your attention to the phone and appreciate that you can contact anyone – and be contacted by anyone – you’d like. You might then move your attention outside, through the window and see the wonderful sunshine, then kids having fun with a football and then a really attractive person walking by. And so on.

Try doing that for 5 minutes. Try to come up with all the things in yourself and your world that you can appreciate. Move your attention around from appreciation-point to appreciation-point like when you are jumping from stone to stone while crossing a stream. Before those 5 minutes are up your mood will be a lot more positive and enthusiastic.

Act as you’d like to feel.

Ask yourself: what would a very positive person do in this situation? Do that and then you’ll feel positive.

Make a call or answer the phone in a positive way. Write an email in a positive and enthusiastic manner. Instead of thinking that a situation will probably be boring and not so beneficial think of it as something that will be exciting, fun and useful.

By acting as you’d like to feel you just do things in a less common order. Just like when you change your physiology. Instead of being a positive person/having a positive mood for the day and therefore acting in a positive way when something happens you flip it around. You start by acting as you would in a situation if you were in a positive mood. And then you’ll create a positive mood and consequences both in the world around you – via the positive action – and within yourself.

It often doesn’t take that much to change how you feel. And acting as you’d like to feel make everyday situations a lot more interesting and can open up new possibilities and opportunities in your life.

Just do it anyway.

If you have a hard time doing something, a hard time getting started, a hard time changing your mood with the suggestions above just do what you need to do anyway.

You are not your thoughts and emotions. They aren’t your boss or parents. You don’t have to obey them. You are the observer of your thoughts and emotions. Sometimes you listen to them. And sometimes you just see them as blabbering going on and on in your mind and body.

And then you just go. You do what you want to do anyway. If you just jump into action and just do it soon your mood will change to a more uplifting one. For more on this topic have a look a Just Do It!

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{ 14 comments }

theusualanonymous November 2, 2007 at 7:28 pm

good post!I use most of this stuff and it usually works but there are days that Im just too bored and dont want/care to change the mood.thnx anyway appreciate this :P

Melanie Painter November 6, 2007 at 2:59 pm

Hi lovely post, working out does really lift my spirits even when I force myself to do it. The other thing I find that helps is changing my phraseology. Anytime I tell myself I ‘should’, ‘must’ or ‘need’ to do something, there seems to be an inner rebellion, even if it’s something I know will benefit me! Just by changing my inner and external dialogue to choice words such as ‘could’, ‘can’ I instantly feel better. So rather than I should tidy the house this morning, I say to myself I could tidy the house this morning or I could do it after I’ve had a cup of a tea, but really there’s no one making me, it’s a choice. I usually relax and do it then.

theusualanonymous November 8, 2007 at 11:11 pm

good point Melanie.

lornadoone November 9, 2007 at 10:37 pm

I used to teach classes about the emotional aspects of weight loss, and one of the things I really tried to teach my clients was what you call “change your physiology.” It amazes me how forcing a smile, lifting your chin, and pulling back your shoulders really does translate into a better mood in a very short period of time.

pn November 11, 2007 at 12:07 pm

I was in a slump, surfing around until I found this article in my feeds.

I just wanted to say thank you for posting this! (a la “Appreciate away”)

Scott Wilson November 11, 2007 at 2:10 pm

Number four is called “counting your blessings” in some circles. :)
This is a great list. Thank you!

Julian November 12, 2007 at 4:44 am

nice list

Henrik Edberg November 12, 2007 at 2:30 pm

Thanks for all your kind comments and good tips.

Melanie: Changing your phraseology has a catchy ring to it and it’s an effective tip. Thanks for sharing.

Albert | UrbanMonk.Net November 13, 2007 at 1:21 am

Henrik, another good collection of tips. May I suggest another one? Just turn around and face your negative mood – just be it completely, feeling it through your body and not thinking about it through the mind. Just accept it completely – and let it turn into peace.

Cheers,
Albert
UrbanMonk.Net
Bliss. Success. Love.

Nikki February 17, 2008 at 11:11 pm

Hi this web blog rox and i just wantd to say thx for helping everyone even though i scammed through this i read the most important needs in someones life love your blog lots and lots!

Ed January 22, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Great list indeed.

Rudy May 7, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Thanx Post.

I realy needed this now…. I feel better thank to your techniques :)

me January 22, 2010 at 1:50 am

thanks im working on a project for school so this helped me alot:)

sonal July 26, 2010 at 8:15 am

i feel very bad, every time i cry , i don’t know why but i can’t live happy some more time. My husband is very sweet person but i always do complain to him that why i can’t feel good. Ya, i know my husband is driver so he can’t give me more time , he is very tired from all day driving , just i can’t feel wel. He want to see happy me , he dislike i crying, so he now stop to talk with me because of my this nature.

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