3 ways to bounce back when things don’t work out

At a time in history when it seems nothing is going your way, it can be mighty easy to feel discouraged. But self-proclaimed ‘happiness hacker’ Penny Locaso wants you to know you can and will bounce back. Here’s how. 

2020 has been a tough year for everyone. Things not working out can feel like a daily occurrence in the unpredictability of COVID life which means that our ability to bounce back is fundamental to not only our mental health but our happiness.

How big you build your resilience muscle will depend on your willingness to experiment with the uncomfortable and do it daily. It is only by skimming the edge of our comfort zones that we realise how capable we truly are. But where to begin?

Experiment 1: Focus on your words

Sigmund Freud once said: “Words have a magical power. They can either bring the greatest happiness or the deepest despair.” The reality is that the language you use will determine your ability to bounce back.

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The challenge is that we are innately biased towards negative words. Barbara Fredrickson, a founder of Positive Psychology discovered that “you need to generate a minimum of five positive thoughts for each negative one, to experience “an optimal range of human functioning.”

While it’s harder work to be positive try experimenting with changing your negative internal conversations daily into positive ones. How? Try using the Name It, Reframe It. It’s as simple as observing your negative language throughout the day.

When a negative word comes into your mind Name It by calling it out or writing it down Eg. I suck at this, then Reframe It by simply stating the complete opposite to yourself e.g. I will be great at this with practice. This simple practice employed consistently can build your self-belief to the next level.

Experiment 2: Grow through acts of micro bravery

Resilience is born out of leaning into fear, and experience tells me that the practice of micro bravery is one of the best ways to build it. Experiment with micro bravery by doing small things each day that make you feel uncomfortable.

It can be as simple as having a difficult conversation, signing up for an online class to learn something you know nothing about or sharing something that makes you feel a little vulnerable with someone else.

Small acts of bravery practiced over time build the courage and confidence to lean into bigger acts of bravery enabling you to unlock potential and navigate adversity in ways you never imagined possible.

Curiosity…Is Born Out Of Self Observation

If awareness is the first step to change then observation is our greatest lever for turning our awareness on. In order to bounce back better when things go pear-shaped, creating the space to observe how life plays out in our heads daily via journaling is a gamechanger. Writing down your thoughts, feelings and behaviours enable you to connect the dots between how they interact. We become observers of our brain’s behaviour and build a relationship with our mind that helps us work with it more effectively.

Try 15 minutes of daily journaling, set the alarm on your phone, and just sit alone with your thoughts, a pen, and a piece of paper. See what comes up and out. No filters allowed, just observation. Don’t stop your practice if you have nothing more to write and you are only five minutes in. Just sit in the silence. Trust me, it will surprise you.

Learning to bounce back better is not about life getting easier, it’s about embracing the fact that uncertainty is a constant.

The more capable we are of adapting to that the more joy we will experience each day.

Penny Locaso is the world’s first Happiness Hacker who’s on a mission to teach 10 million humans how to intentionally adapt in order to future proof happiness. She is the author of Hacking Happiness (Wiley $29.95).