Have you ever heard the phrase: "as within, so without"? It has become something of a mantra to me lately because it's a reminder that whatever is happening outside of me is a direct reflection of what is happening within me, on the inside.
Our thoughts affect our beliefs and expectations, which affect our actions, which, in turn, affect our physical reality. In a way, we create our world through the thoughts we think; our external reality becomes a reflection of our internal landscape.
The Snowball Effect
It works like the proverbial "snowball effect", with whatever thoughts we're focused on rolling around over and over in our minds. These thoughts draw to the surface of our minds more and more memories that have the same "feel" to them, and they prime us to pay more attention to the events happening around us that also match. All this stuff then gets packed together, making that thought/memory/feeling snowball bigger and bigger, and stronger and stronger.
If this continues, pretty soon we're in a situation where we are so immersed in whatever thoughts and feelings are associated with that snowball that we can't even perceive anything that doesn't match this dominant vibe. (It's like wearing a pair of glasses with colored lenses -- the color of the glass over our eyes puts a filter over everything and actually changes what we are able to see.)
This effect works with all of our feelings -- good or bad. So when we start finding ourselves feeling down or pessimistic about things, or when something we've come across in the media upsets us, it's really important to head the snowball off and look for ways to shift our focus into a better-feeling place before we get trapped into only being able to see the crappy stuff in life.
How to Shift a Bad Mood
Fortunately, there are ways of making just that kind of shift, and they don't have to be difficult or time-consuming, either! Here are some of my favorite ways to feel better fast and shift myself out of a bad mood when I'm in a funk...
1. Be Here Now
Focus on the present moment. When we feel bad, it's usually because our attention is focused in the past or on the future. When something we find in the news is upsetting to us, for instance, it's almost always because there is a kernel of fear of something similar happening to us or to someone we care about; it's fear of something that will most likely never come to pass.
If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present. -- Lao Tzu
When you worry about the future you expend a whole lot of energy imagining negative scenarios that are going to turn out better than you think they are anyway, so why bother worrying? Likewise, the past is over and done with. It cannot be changed, for better or for worse, so why let it bother you anymore?
Grounding yourself in the present moment allows you to experience your life in the only moment over which you have any control: right now.
2. Be Silly
Give yourself permission to just be silly! Have fun doing something you enjoy, for no other reason than that it would be fun, even if you're worried that you'll look like an idiot. Tell your inner critic to take a hike, let the self-criticism go, and let yourself have a moment of pure playfulness and joy!
Dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth
-- William W. Purkey
3. Practice "Pivoting"
Pivoting is a technique described by Esther Hicks in the book Ask and it is Given. If you are focusing on or obsessing about something you don't want, take a moment to write it down. Take a sheet of paper, fold it in half length-wise and on the left-hand side, write out a comprehensive list of all the things that you are worried about or angry about or frustrated about. Get everything out. And then on the right-hand side, next to each of your negative items, write down what is that you do want, instead of that item.
So, for example, if one of your negative items was that you're afraid your car is going to crap out on you soon, then on the other side, you could write down that you want a reliable vehicle that will get you from Point A to Point B every time. You "pivot" your thoughts from negative to positive.
4. Take a Walk
I find that when I'm having trouble concentrating, or when I'm just in one of those disgruntled "meh" kind of moods where nothing feels right and everything is slightly annoying, getting outside and enjoying some sunshine and some exercise really helps to settle things down and turn my mood around.
Walking is man's best medicine. -- Hippocrates
5. Lend a Hand
Helping other people helps to make us feel better, too. Not only does it feel good when something we can do helps others (helping makes us happy!), it actually has an impact on both our mental and physical health, too. Studies have shown that older adults who regularly volunteer, for instance, enjoy higher levels of well-being than those who do not.
6. Laugh More
Laughter, as they say, is the best medicine. And I firmly believe this. So much of what makes us feel bad in life can be cured, or at least mediated, by a good laugh. Even when situations are particularly bleak, if we can still find a way to laugh, things never seem quite as bad.
Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.
-- Charlie Chaplin
7. This, Too, Shall Pass
Sometimes it helps to remember that whatever is happening in our lives right now is transient. It won't last forever, no matter what it is. So enjoy the good things, and don't worry so much about the bad; they'll all be memories soon enough, and new adventures await around every corner.
8. Indulge Yourself
What's your "guilty pleasure"? Celebrity magazines? A long soak in a hot bubble bath with a glass of wine? The latest novel from your favourite author? Indulge yourself and take some time to do something that you enjoy, just because you enjoy it!
Next time you're feeling down, give these eight strategies a try. Remember that like attracts like and that, by boosting your vibe, not only will you start to feel better in the present, you'll also be helping to keep yourself aligned with all the good-feeling experiences and situations that you want to attract into your life in the future!
photo credit: (c) pixabay.com / cc0
Nathalie Thompson is the author of Seven-Minute Stress Busters and the founder of VibeShifting.com, your guide to mastering the methods and mindsets of success and transforming your dreams into reality. For more inspiration, sign up now for free access to her mindset mastery video course!