But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.

~ Elizabeth Edwards~

Have you ever had one of those days where it seems that the world is one big pigeon, just waiting to crap on your front steps? Sure, we all have. Then someone comes along and tells you to keep positive. You feel like strangling them on the spot.  While our mind is telling us we should be positive, our feelings are screaming at us to tell the world where to stick it.  Regardless of how we feel, we realize that it won’t do us any good to continue to have our own pity party and we need to move on.

There are things we can do, that will help us turn our attitude around, brighten our day and shorten our stay in a negative state next time it seems that the world is out to get us.

Here are 5 things we can do.

Step away and get a reality check

When we are in a negative state, we have a tendency to see problems greater than they are, overreact and see things in a situation that really don’t exist. This causes the situation and problem to snowball and become worse.  Ask yourself this question; “Is there anything I can do at this time to keep the problem from getting worse?” or, “Is it possible for the problem to be worse than it is?” This may help us to see some light at the end of the tunnel. If we feel stuck in negativity, we can ask someone we trust to give us their perspective.  This close individual is not caught up emotionally in the problem (as we are) and may be able to view the situation in a clearer and unbiased manner.

Look for a positive and focus on it

 When you have just found out some bad news, it will not be easy to focus on something positive.  Try to shift your thinking away from the negative to a situation that has gone well, positive events or something that has brought you joy and happiness in the past. If this makes it easier, great, if not just try to think of something neutral.  Do whatever it takes to shift your focus.

Look past the situation

Think of difficult situations that you have been through in your past.   Become aware that this too will pass. Try to imagine what it will be like in one year, five or ten years from now looking back on this time.  To do this will help to focus on doing the difficult work that we need to do to get through a crisis, while at the same time giving us perspective it is only one thing in our ongoing lives. This helps keep us from getting overwhelmed by our present negative situation or events.

Ask for and accept help

Successful people have a strong support network that they can count on to support them in times of need.  If you have such a network, this is the time to reach out and ask for help.  Knowing when we need help and asking for it is a sign of strength, not of weakness.  We feel good when we are able to help others, so let others experience that same feeling by being able to help us in times of need.  If you don’t have an immediate support network, there are organizations in the community whose purpose it is to offer support in your situation.  Reach out to them in difficult times.

Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

Every morning, before I start my day I have a gratitude book in which I write in at least ten things for which I am grateful.  When having a bad day, it helps me to go back to that list and become aware of all the good there is in my life.  Developing an awareness of all the positives and remembering them is a powerful tool that helps us overcome adversity and the difficult times that are an inevitable part of life. 


  • Harvey Deutschendorf is an emotional intelligence expert, internationally published author and speaker.  To take the EI Quiz go to theotherkindofsmart.com.  His book THE OTHER KIND OF SMART, Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence for Greater Personal Effectiveness and Success has been published in 4 languages. Harvey writes for FAST COMPANY and has a monthly column with HRPROFESSIONALS MAGAZINE. You can follow him on Twitter @theeiguy.