Lately, I’ve been on this road of pessimism that I can’t seem to get out of. If you are familiar with this cycle, you know that it’s not an easy one to get out of. Especially in winter quarter, my class schedule is one that I regret having every morning when I wake up, tiredly getting ready for the long day. It also doesn’t help that I have depression and anxiety, which usually worsen during this gloomy quarter. So, can I fix my bad day? You might think that it’s an impossible task to do once the bad overpowers the good, but I’m here to tell you that this is not true!
We are all prone to the negativity bias, which Positive Psychology contextualizes as “when we experience numerous good events in one day, negativity bias can cause us to focus on the sole bad thing that occurred.” I’m not usually one for overly positive thoughts, or someone who tries to sugarcoat the sour with sickly sweetness. When I see something negative, my first instinct isn’t to make it into something positive. What I do, though, is think of it in another way- one that doesn’t let me hyper-fixate on the bad. So, when I see myself falling into a cycle of negativity, I try to start another cycle of positivity. What this looks like is I try to do things that cheer me up, as well as be mindful of all the good things that have happened! So, if I’ve left my coffee at home, I’m also thinking of how grateful I am to have gotten on the bus on time. It’s not necessarily taking away from the bad, because I think that it has a right to exist in my day, but it’s more about acknowledging the good that exists in my day, too. This mindfulness stops me from digging myself deeper into the hole that is negativity. It’s so hard to fall into a bad day when we are looking for just that: the bad. But, even if your day is filled with bad moments, chances are, it’s filled with good moments, too.
Research in Social Psychological and Personality Science from Kiken and Shook has found that an increase in mindfulness can increase our own positive judgment! Similarly, Dr. Yeager, a Ph.D., director of Stress, Trauma, and Resilience Program, furthers states this belief within The Negativity Bias: Why the Bad Stuff Sticks: “If you challenge yourself…to be mindful of your daily activities, noticing what’s important [and what isn’t], you are more likely to have positive life experiences”
I’ve had my fair share of bad days, especially in the quarter system where everything is crazily packed. So, I’ve realized that there is nothing that I can do to fight it. Within the bad days, there are also good days, and just “meh” days. I’ve started to re-think what it means to be a bad day, and what it is that I can do to change that. I know that some days are just meant to be bad, so I embrace this. Even with this mindset, I still remind myself that there are good moments on bad days– and good days that follow the bad days. And within these bad moments, I begin to question if it’s actually as bad as I’m making it out to be in the moment. I find that a few minutes after I do something to cheer myself up, the bad moment wasn’t actually as bad as I thought it was.
It’s so easy to fall into this mindset of defeat, especially when one bad incident precedes the next one. But, weren’t their good incidents that happened before, or even after? Usually, chances are I inflate the badness of something when I’m already surrounded by these thoughts. It’s something that’s comforting, especially when I’m so used to it. But, if we stay within this cold embrace of negativity, then there can never be room for a better day. As Psychology Today states, “Improving how you measure your progress will also improve your ability to perceive progress.” When we begin to measure our progress through positivity rather than negativity, then we start to see our day improve, even if it’s just in the slightest bit!