We've all had a bad day, or week, (or month, or even a year) - yes, I might’ve been watching a bit too much Friends lately - when our mood was horrible, and the whole world seemed to conspire against us.
It's crazy how sometimes bad things just keep happening and there doesn't seem to be an end to it.
But then, there are also days, where you keep feeling luck on your side. Opportunities come to you, good things arrive from all directions and everyone around you is being so nice towards you and the whole world is rooting for your success.
Sometimes you wake up, full of energy, and just know that the day is going to be great, which is turns out to be true.
Try to remember the last time you experienced similar situations. Was there anything different in your mood, feelings and attitude already from the start? Take a moment to analyze the situations in as much detail as possible and really re-feel your feelings.
Did you become happy because good things happened, or were you in a good mood already from the start?
Of course, your mood and attitude were most likely to have gotten much better and more positive when great things were happening and much worse when bad things happened. More often than not, we are highly affected by the outside circumstances.
But just as importantly, it can all work the other way around. We don’t even have to wait until something bad happens in order to start going about with our days grumpy and unimpressed. Just as well as we don’t have to wait for something good to happen until we become happy and cheerful.
As you can probably feel where this is going - the same goes for our luck.
The truth is, our attitude is really important from the start. It actually determines how many opportunities, or bad things we will see throughout the day in all situations that we face. That’s why it’s also shown to determine how successful we become.
I’ve found an interesting article with lots of scientific evidence of positive attitude and optimism and its benefits for our mental and physical health, supporting the points discussed in this post. You can read the scientific evidence here.
Just as we are able to turn our bad days into good days with our attitude, we can turn our bad luck into good luck by mainly changing our attitude, thoughts and emotions.
Since I really dislike the phrase “think positive” (in fact, you can read about it in my earlier blog post), I have created this two-step process of using mindfulness to turn our luck around instead:
Step 1: Use mindfulness to understand your mood and attitude at the moment.
If you’re having one of those days, where everything seems to suck and there doesn’t seem to be a way out of it, start by taking a few deep breaths and tune in to yourself.
You can read more about easy ways to tune in to your body and enter a light meditative state in my earlier blog posts:
Start by non-judgmentally observing your thoughts, feelings and emotions at this very moment. Try to identify where you are feeling them in your body. Try to identify why you are feeling them.
Oftentimes, (and I’m sure my boyfriend will agree on this and thank me for finally acknowledging this myself) when I’m in a bad mood and everything seems to suck, all I need is just a snack, or a meal. I am definitely one of those people that get angry (hangry), sad, or unmotivated when, in fact, I might just slightly hungry. It can be as extreme as being on holiday on a paradise island with no worries in my life, but still having this bugging feeling that everything’s only bad. Then, once I get some food in my belly, life becomes amazing again.
Some other important physiological things that are likely to improve our mood and help us notice more opportunities than bad aspects of life are sleep and movement.
Every time I feel low, like the world is conspiring against me, I also try to get enough sleep and do something active. I might go for a walk, bike somewhere instead of using public transport, or work out. There are lots of benefits of exercise on our mental and physical health as it is proven to improve our mood in abundant research (1).
Of course, the reason why we feel low and luck turns away from us is not always physiological. Sometimes, it can be purely psychological, or go hand-in-hand with physiological reasons. That’s why it’s extra important to take a mindful moment and identify where your feeling is coming from, since food, sleep, or exercise alone might just not do it sometimes.
You might feel a little stressed, or upset about something that has happened recently, or worried about the circumstances you are in, or the uncertainty about the future.
A simple solution, like going on a mindful walk (read my earlier blog post about five ways to be mindful to learn more it), talking to a friend about your feelings, or doing breathing exercises (like box breathing) might just do, if your psychological reason can be resolved that way.
But it could also be a deeper underlying cause, like long-term stress, causing you bigger problems, like anxiety, or depression. In this case, it would be worth checking in with a healthcare professional and speaking to them about your concerns as well as coming up with a strategy of how to deal with it.
2. Figure out the opportunities that you have and pursue them.
One of the main differences between lucky and unlucky people is the number of opportunities they see in all situations they face.
This is starting to show, with the Covid-19 pandemic going around.
Although the situation is horrible in many countries, with the virus taking away lots of people’s lives, destroying our economy and making us stay inside, away from each other, it really warms my heart to see that many people are not complaining about this as much as they are coming up with ways to be proactive about the situation.
Read my earlier blog post about being proactive versus reactive to learn more.
Lots of people are still productively working from home, exercising at home or out in the nature, getting the most use of social media by actually being social despite physical social distancing, finding new hobbies, and most importantly starting to help each other out - be it buying groceries for an elderly neighbor, supporting their local business, or singing together from their balconies.
Even in such bad situations, there are so many opportunities.
The main opportunities I have decided to focus on myself are working more on my blog and expanding it to other social media, as well as getting around to start some projects that I have been postponing so far.
I’m also working on my acceptance in general more than ever, since I otherwise love to be active and can’t sit still in one place even for a few hours. So, now I’m taking this situation as a challenge to improve my patience and resilience and become more still in life.
By finding and focusing more on the opportunities than reasons to feel bad about the situation, I know that I will consider myself luckier, than if I had focused on the negative things that the Covid-19 is bringing to me and the societies everywhere around the world.
Some other examples of seeing opportunities in miserable situations can look like the following:
Being locked down at home, not being able to go out and do the things you love? Think of the cozy and safe home you have as well as the great technology still allowing us to “hang out” together virtually with the people we care about.
Or make a list of all the projects you can finally get around doing and a schedule to keep yourself productive.
See the magnitude of the great cause that you are a part of - by making sure you aren’t passing the coronavirus over to someone who is immunosuppressed, or elderly you are not exposing them to a possibly deadly disease. Locking yourself inside is actually very noble of you and you might be saving many lives that way.
And think of how great it is to actually have a chance to properly unwind at home and sit in your pajamas the entire day if you want to, without the bugging feeling like you NEED to go outside, or anyone telling you to do it either.
There are countless opportunities in the current situation and many other negative things in life. We have the power to change what we want to focus on and it really determines whether we will see our life as lucky or unlucky in the long-term.
My two key takeaways on how to turn your luck around are firstly, to use mindfulness to understand your mood and attitude at the moment and then figure out the opportunities that you have and pursue them.
Try it right away by leaving a comment below and telling me what your current struggle is. What opportunities do you see in the situation?
Stay tuned for more science-backed evidence and tips on mindfulness that I will post in this blog, by subscribing to my mailing list below.
I am very interested to hear your opinion and tips on what you'd like to read about in this blog. Therefore you are more than welcome to leave a comment here, or contact me on email@example.com
Laura | MSc in Medical Science, Certified Mindfulness Life Coach
1. Penedo, Frank J., and Jason R. Dahn. "Exercise and well-being: a review of mental and physical health benefits associated with physical activity." Current opinion in psychiatry 18.2 (2005): 189-193.