Bad days happen. Depending on how much you don't like your boss or your commute, they might happen a lot. It's those days when everything seems to be going wrong or just taking way longer than it should to get done. You're grouchy, sarcastic, and ready to lash out at anyone who gets in your way. What can you do when you're generally pretty happy and positive, but having a bad day?

I've been there. I'm generally an upbeat person, but I'm not immune to the occasional crappy day. Years ago when this would happen, I'd just try to power through--making little or no attempt to make myself feel better. I'd wallow a bit in my misery, knowing that with a good night's sleep and maybe a couple glasses of wine, I'd have a fresh perspective (and a hangover to contend with) the next day.

As you know, bad days rarely happen at a convenient time. And when you're feeling off, it's difficult to get your work done or make the most of the opportunities and interactions you have on your plate. So it's essential -- especially when you have a business to manage and grow -- to be able to manage your emotions and get back on track fast.

More recently, I decided to try another strategy--not that I'm giving up on sleep or wine. Both of those are still essential components. But I wondered if there was something more I could do in the moment to get the pop of energy I needed to turn things around, instead of just calling the day a loss and giving up.

But how?

A couple of months ago, my business took an unexpected dip. I wasn't prepared for the hit to my revenue and even less prepared to deal with the emotional fall-out of this loss. In order to get better, I needed something to perk me up so that I could focus on rebuilding.

That's when I decided to try something different as part of my Just One Thing series on YouTube. You can see my video challenge here. I decided to be more social. I intentionally increased my exposure to people (not my typical response) and committed to giving an enthusiastic greeting to everyone I met.

If the plan sounds simple, it's because it was.

It started on my morning run on the local trail near my house. Early in the day, there is a fair amount of foot traffic. As I passed each runner, stroller, dog, and bicycle (yes, even the cyclists), I shouted "hello" or "good morning." I mean I really yelled it. I sounded like a crazy person, but apparently not threatening--no one ran away.

And while some people gave me a polite nod, most of the people threw that burst of energy right back with an equally loud and upbeat "hello." I did this for 5 or 6 miles, accumulating positive energy as I went. I carried on doing this through the rest of the day, though I admittedly dialed back the volume once I was in Starbucks or the office. I noticed that my mood throughout the day changed with this "fake it 'til you make it" gesture.

Lesson learned?

You can generate positive energy around you by putting out positive energy yourself -- even if it's forced. This worked for me because it gave me the necessary mood boost to refocus on my business that day, which created some momentum to keep going. It was a proactive measure to beat the slump that can come after bad news or an unlucky event. And it worked.

You can do this too! It was so easy and so, so free. The next time you feel a bad day coming on, try saying an enthusiastic "hello" to everyone you meet -- even the annoying cyclists -- and notice what happens. It feels really good to be acknowledged by other people, and sharing a positive greeting is a fun and effective way to turn a bad day into a pretty good one -- for yourself and the people around you.

Published on: Nov 18, 2016
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