We all have bad days sometimes. I had a really bad day recently when I got close to putting this website online and then came across some technical problems that I considered potentially fatal: Both the contact form and the email subscription form did not work as expected. We’re creating this website for you, our readers, so what good is it if no one can get in touch with us? I spent the next five hours on the phone with two companies, going back and forth between them, with each shifting the blame to the other. Meanwhile, I felt like I was getting closer and closer to a heart attack. And when my husband Bob came home, it took a lot for me to not just bark at him - I was in such a rotten mood.
For you, it might have been something different that put you in a funk lately. Maybe you had a bad night and were really tired, and then things kept going wrong all morning. Maybe you had a fight with your partner or perhaps the kids were fussing way too much. Or maybe your colleague got that promotion that you thought was going to be yours.
It’s hard to be with yourself when you’re in a bad mood, and it can be just as challenging to be with your partner when they’re having a hard time. You probably don’t enjoy feeling bad, so is there anything you can do about it? Well, we’ve got a tip for you! As you are probably well aware, we humans are social to the very core, and our relationships affect our well-being in powerful ways. Surely this is true for the relationship with your significant other, and you can likely see how your relationships with your parents, siblings, kids, friends, and colleagues matter as well. But did you know that even the way you relate to STRANGERS affects your well-being and happiness? It does, and to such an extent that it can make you feel measurably (yes, psychologists try to measure everything!) happier!
So, try out the following technique (which you can do either alone or with your partner):
Next time you are in a bad mood, take a walk or go to a place where you can see other people. As you pass them, make a point of wishing happiness for each and every one you come across. That is, look at them and say to yourself, “I wish for this person to be happy.” You don’t have to say anything to them - just silently wish them happiness. Do this for a few minutes! It’s easy to do, and when you’re in a foul mood, it’s good to take a walk and get outside anyway!
Wishing happiness for others not only makes you happy yourself but also can reduce your anxiety. And incidentally, a happier you is less likely to lash out at your partner or family members, so the benefit extends to your loved ones as well 🙂
Try it out and let us know if it worked or if it didn’t. You can use the comment form below or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you!
Douglas A. Gentile, Dawn M. Sweet, Lanmiao He. Caring for Others Cares for the Self: An Experimental Test of Brief Downward Social Comparison, Loving-Kindness, and Interconnectedness Contemplations. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2019 DOI: 10.1007/s10902-019-00100-2