When people are having a bad day, they often feel worthless, drained, and unhappy. The best way to counter these feelings is to make sure others do not feel the same way. When I am having a bad day, I like to be extra kind to other people. Not only does this help me feel better, but research indicates that doing good for others helps you feel better as well. For example, one article discusses the relationship between altruistic behaviours, and one’s own happiness, well-being, health, and longevity. Another study demonstrates that helping others is related to greater levels of mental health than receiving help.
Listed below are a few nice things I do when I’m having a bad day:
1) Buy food for a homeless individual. This means going out of my way, and often being a little late to my destination, in order to help someone meet their basic needs for survival.
2) Compliment a stranger. Many times we see someone whose hair is beautiful, or overhear an intellectual conversation. We compliment people in our heads all the time. When I’m having a bad day, I try extra hard to verbalize these compliments, so others can feel good about themselves. Hearing someone thank me and seeing someone smile because of what I said, helps me feel like I can make a difference. This instantly makes me feel better.
3) Buy someone’s coffee. Like many of you, I adore coffee and I have found that simply buying someone a coffee can help perk them up. This is quite rewarding.
4) Hold the door for someone even though it may take some extra time. In a chaotic society like ours, many people forget to do little things like hold the door open for someone. No judgement, I have likely done the same. When I am having a bad day, I immediately become more aware of these things. On these days in particular, I make it a point to hold the door open for the person behind me. Sometimes, I hold it open even longer so that more people can pass through. It may slow me down, but it helps speed someone else up. Doing this always makes me feel helpful.
5) Spend time with my family. Spending time with loved ones is always appreciated in my household, and it’s evident that I make my parents very happy when I spend some extra time with them. While this makes my family happy, it also makes me happy; I feel supported and loved.
6) Listen to a friend rant about his or her bad day while demonstrating acceptance and understanding. I always feel accomplished after making a friend feel better. I also make sure to display attitudes that I’d like reciprocated (e.g., acceptance). Luckily, they often are reciprocated, which is a bonus.
7) Display gratitude. While this is easy, it is extremely effective in helping me feel better and in helping others feel good. Displays of gratitude can include saying thank you to the bus driver, letting your friends know you appreciate them, or just being joyful about all the good things in your life (e.g., having food on the table, having shelter, having family/friends, being educated).
Doing nice things for others helps me feel like I have purpose, which also helps to counter the effects of feeling drained, helpless, and sad. Reacting this way to bad days may benefit you as well! Give it a try – Worse come to worse you make someone else’s day better!
The way I see it: If you can’t change your own day, change someone else’s!