The Top Ten Ways To Raise Your Mood

>> Sunday

1. Respond to good news enthusiastically. It's called "capitalizing." If your significant other tells you some good news, how do you respond? Four possible ways to respond are: 1) enthusiastically, 2) negatively, 3) positively but subdued, or 4) uninterested. Studies show when you respond enthusiastically, as opposed to any of the other ways, it makes a big difference in how satisfied your significant other is in your relationship, how committed s/he is, and how in love s/he is with you. And, of course, if your significant other is more satisfied with your relationship, is more committed to you, and more in love with you, that will really raise your mood, too.

2. Look at personal photos. Listening to music and eating chocolate didn't really change experimental subjects' moods very much. Alcohol and TV each gave people a 1% rise in their happiness score. But the clear winner was looking at personal photos. It gave people, on average, an 11% rise in their mood.

3. Experiment with your posture. Someone who feels down tends to slump. Someone who is happy tends to sit up straighter, walk more upright with the head held up, looking ahead instead of down. If you have been paying attention, you know this already. Posture tends to be a reflection of mood. What you might not have realized is that it goes the other way too: If you change your posture, it will influence your mood. Experiment with your posture while you're walking or sitting. Do more of what makes you feel better, and less of what doesn't.

4. Compare your situation to something worse. Think of something you are unhappy about. Now notice that the reason it makes you unhappy is that you are comparing your situation to something better. You're comparing your situation to something more ideal. But try this: Think of someone in this world who would take your situation over theirs in a heartbeat. Or imagine your own situation was much worse than it is. Whatever you are unhappy about, you can easily find a worse situation to compare it to. And from that perspective, you are lucky to have the problem you have, even though it is obviously not ideal. Who says the ideal is a legitimate thing to use as a comparison anyway? Something worse is at least as legitimate, and has a benefit too: You feel better.

5. Pretend the universe is in a conspiracy to make you happy. When something bad happens, pretend the universe is in a conspiracy to make you happy and it gave you this bad thing as the perfect way for you to learn something — a lesson that will ultimately make you happy. This way of reframing a setback will improve your mood in the moment, and will raise your mood in the long run. It'll help you learn and improve what you do in the future. It will help you make the most of whatever happens. What unpleasant situation do you have? Is it teaching you something valuable? Could it, if you looked at it that way? Your ongoing mood has a lot to do with how things look to you. And how things look to you has a lot to do with how you look at things. Use this to your advantage by using this reframe.

6. Think of something you're grateful for. It is surprisingly easy to think of something you're grateful for. It only takes a few moments. And as soon as you think of something, you feel noticeably better. If the first thing you think of doesn't raise your mood enough, ask yourself what else you're grateful for. We naturally have our attention on our goals and what we'd like to attain in the future, and the mind naturally compares what we have with what we want to have. That's motivating sometimes, but it can also make you feel demoralized or frustrated. It is equally legitimate — and ought to get equal billing — to think about what you have (compared to others or compared to your past), or what you have gained, or what you are just plain glad about. Try it the next time you feel discouraged or frustrated. Ask yourself, "What am I grateful for?"

7. Take some time and sit still quietly. Simply sitting and thinking can raise your mood consistently. All you have to do is sit still without doing anything. How often do you do that? You always have lots to do, and if you're not doing something, you're watching a movie or listening to music. Your mind is almost continually engaged. When you sit still, after about fifteen minutes, your mind seems to go into a defrag mode. Unresolved issues bubble up and get resolved. Your mind seems to naturally sort itself out. It feels almost as if you had things you needed to think about that were pushed to the back of your mind, waiting for an opportunity. Sit still and let your mind think for a half-hour to an hour. I think you'll be surprised at how clear-headed and peaceful you become.

8. Do some exercise. Exercise beats depression, but even if you're not depressed, a little exercise usually raises your mood. It's an all-purpose mood-raiser that just about anyone can use. If you haven't exercised in the last couple days and you're not feeling as good as you would like, try doing some exercise today and see if that helps. It probably will.

9. Get a little done on a purpose you care about. Think of one small goal you really want. And it's really important you think of something you want. You could do things you should do all day long, completing task after task, but if there's no juice in it, all that accomplishment won't raise your mood. For real enjoyment, you need: 1) something you want to accomplish, that 2) you enjoy accomplishing. Do a little of your joyful purpose today, or if the day is almost done, then start tomorrow. Think of something you really want to do that you really like to do, and get a little of it done.

10. Reframe a circumstance that makes you feel bad. "Reframing" means interpreting the situation differently. When something happens, you interpret it a certain way, and your mind usually does it automatically. The situation just seems a certain way to you, and you have feelings appropriate to the way you look at it. When you reframe a circumstance that makes you feel bad, you won't feel bad any more. Nothing has changed except how you're looking at it, but that's enough to change your feelings. To reframe something, all you have to do is 1) notice some circumstance is bringing you down, and 2) ask yourself if there is some other way to look at it than the way you automatically look at it.

There you have it. Ten good ways to improve your mood. Keep this list around and when you want to feel better, try one.

Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of Viewfinder: How to Change the Way You Look at Things.


Gabrielmaxine 10:33 AM  

i need a better attitude as i must be a riot to be around with the one i ve got...i found your site. i hope you can help!!

Adam Khan 7:59 PM  

I hope I can help too. Step number one is to WANT to improve your mood. That's the most important step, and you've already got that one.

The best place to start is browse around until you find some idea you WANT to apply, and then stick with that one. Apply it. Try to do whatever it is every day for some specific period of time, say a week.

Then browse around and find another one. Don't pick the one you think you "should" do, but find one you WANT to do. There are plenty of methods that will work, and you want to keep your motivation. It will kill your motivation to try to "make" yourself do something you think you should do.

Focus on what you want to do that will improve your mood, and you will most definitely find ways that will work for you.

. 1:59 AM  

Good stuff. Stumbled on your sites in relation to your essay on low-carb, which I've incorporated as a link in my site here.

The problem I have with "re-framing" is the artificiality. The pessimistic view seems more realistic. There's a slight conflict there with the idea of "fooling" myself.

Anyway, I'll get along and read some of your other content.

Adam Khan 11:44 AM  

Hi Chainey,

I've heard this criticism before (about reframing). But the fact is, you are already "framing" the event. You already make an interpretation of any given event. But your interpretation is not deliberate. It is influenced by your mood at the time, by the habitual way you normally interpret those kinds of events, it is strongly influenced by the way your mother interpreted those kinds of events, and it may not be realistic or helpful.

Another aspect to look at is the downside of pessimism. Check out for more on this. The overwhelming result of a huge number of scientific studies on pessimistic interpretations of events is that pessimism makes you less capable, less healthy, less creative at problem solving, less able to gain cooperation from other people, and it is less enjoyable.

Given all that, it is PESSIMISM that is unrealistic. And it is very practical to look at a situation and interpret in a way that gives you more strength and creativity to handle it.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Yeah I agree with that being pessimistic is not realistic at all but neither is being optimistic you don't want to end up going too far on either side of the spectrum. People go to all or nothing like that to prptect themselves from being hurt. No one wants to face reality. With reality comes hurt feelings but also happiness and love and enthusiasm for life. I think to really live we need to face reality we need to experience pain and happiness let's face it without it all life would be pretty empty. Instead of being either optimistic or pessimistic we need to find a gray area.My theory is to stop fighting it be realistic consider all aspects of life or events. There is good and bad in everything accept that fact and you won't find yourself sulking in a corner for losing a job or. About to throw yourself off a cliff. Accept it and apply it to your life

Adam Khan 12:58 PM  

Anonymous, I often try to avoid the word optimism because what it means int he scientific sense of the word and what it means in everyday conversations is different. But in the scientific sense of the word, optimism is not at all too far on one side of the spectrum. Optimism means not making thought-mistakes with your negative, self-defeating thoughts. Being mistake-free in your thinking is not a bad thing at all. It frees you from unnecessary negative feelings and stupid actions.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

Oh okay, im sorry my bad. I guess I got the wrong idea of what optimism is. I always thought it was telling yourself only good happy things, and I've always tried to look at something positively but it's really hard to snap out of feeling sad. So is being optimistic accepting the bad things and letting go of the negative emotions associated with it while also acknowledging the good things?
And I'm sorry if I offended you with my comment I'mjust trying to figure things out for myself and learn. thanks for clearing that up for me. :)

Adam Khan 1:23 PM  

Mary, I'm not offended at all. Education is what this is for. It's a common misconception about optimism, and many people have it, so I'm glad you brought it up.

To learn more about optimism and pessimism, I recommend two articles:

I Am Not a Pessimist


Positive Thinking: The Next Generation

Vidya Sury 8:36 PM  

I love this post and follow most of these "ten ways" when I feel out of sorts. But it definitely feels great to see it all verbalized. I really enjoy this site and I wonder, Adam, whether I could just list the ten ways on my blog Going A-Musing and show a link to the full article on your site?

Thanks ! I love reading your newsleters.

Adam Khan 10:24 PM  

Yes, Vidya, go right ahead and post it. I'm glad you like it.

Federico 10:42 AM  

Although English is not my mother's tongue, I manage to read Mr. Khan's books and comments. Besides doing what he says, I suggest:
1. Take a shower. 2. Change your clothes. 3. Do some little chore. 4. Have a cup of tea. 5. Read a joke. 6. Indulge in an ice-cream. 7. Listen to an old record. 8. Sing one of your favorites songs. 9. Watch some short sequence of Astaire & Rogers in UTube (Cheek to cheek is fine).

Unknown 12:51 PM  

Very deep thimking. Thanks for these advices. Some of these i already do, like standing still, giving a time for my brain to "reframe" the whole situation. Therefore, i cope properly with the problem i am facing. But even though, sometimes i cant find a solution to my problem, it is beyond my limits.So i get more and more worried and this kills me. How can i deal with such situation?

Adam Khan 1:57 PM  

There are a lot of different ways to deal with excessive worry. Check out some of these:

Sometimes there is no "solution" to a problem. But there is always something you can do to either improve the situation or improve your attitude toward it.


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