Note: This post is written by Julie Ellis
Some people end the day by hitting the sack and falling to sleep almost immediately, then there are the rest of us. We lay down and spend at least 30 minutes rehashing the events of the day. We replay conversations in our minds and cringe at the embarrassing things that we have said. We focus on the things that we forgot to do, and the things that we were unable to do.
Let’s be truthful. There’s nothing productive about this. It’s all just an exercise in increasing self doubt. So, what if we used this sleepless 30 minutes or so to do something constructive? What if there were something we could do to make ourselves feel better about the day we had, and make us look forward to the possibility of tomorrow being a better day?
Good news. This is possible. When negative end-of-the-day thoughts creep in, try asking yourself these seven questions.
1. What makes me feel grateful?
Rather than focusing on what went wrong, ask yourself what made you feel grateful. This is a great way to force yourself to find something positive about a negative day. Gratitude isn’t just feeling thankful, it is a way of changing both your attitude and your perspective.
2. What happened today that made me smile?
There is no better way to improve your mood than to recount the things that made you smile. Anything that you can think of is game here. It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant it seems. If it put a smile on your face, it counts. Were you the recipient of a kind remark from a stranger? Did you have an extra 15 minutes to lay in bed this morning?
3. How am I feeling right now?
If the answer to this question is that you feel lousy, that’s perfectly fine. Yes, the purpose of asking yourself these seven questions is to create positive feelings. However, that doesn’t mean that this process is meant to be saccharine sweet or that you should deny negative feelings. There is something positive and empowering in acknowledging how you feel. However, if you are feeling well, that’s even better!
4. How did I make other people feel today?
This is another question to which you may not have a very positive answer. That’s okay. The truth is we all have days where we just aren’t a positive addition to the lives of others. It’s ugly to think that we have done things that made others feel bad, but reflecting on that can help us prepare to be a positive source.
5. How much stress am I feeling?
Stress has a tendency to creep up on us. All too often, you will be in midst of getting things done, fighting proverbial fires, and just operating in survival mode, and then you hit an emotional wall. The result could be anything from a teary emotional episode to blowing up a loved one who doesn’t deserve it. Asking yourself this question allows you to be honest with yourself about the level of stress that you are under, and to make plans to lower that stress level before things hit critical mass.
6. What can I do better tomorrow?
Before you answer this, keep in mind that the point is to make yourself look forward to tomorrow with positive feelings. So, ‘everything’ is not a good answer here. Instead, try to think of a few specific things you can actually take action on. For example, you cannot lose 30 pounds tomorrow, but you can pick a salad for lunch instead of a fried chicken sandwich.
7. What did I learn today?
If you have learned even one thing, you have something positive to end your day with. They say that the difference between successful people and others is that they can embrace even the worst days as long as they can find at least one lesson learned.
Julie Ellis is a professional business writer and editor with wide experience in the field of education, marketing and psychology. Learn more about her and connect on Twitter or check her website to know more about development of business and academical writing skills.