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Positive Thinking

How to Not Be Sad When It Feels Like Everything Is Going Wrong

Written by Akina Chargualaf
Akina is the Associate Editor at Lifehack, a writer, and a podcaster. She is the co-founder of the Dear Gorgeous Letters podcast.
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Gaining emotional balance is far different than finding physical or mental balance. Human emotions, especially, sadness, pain, depression, and anxiety, tend to arrive suddenly and uninvited. Sometimes, it may feel like the odds are stacked against your favor, which makes it harder to break through that specific cycle or see the light at the end of the tunnel. In these cases, learning how to not be sad can feel impossible.

These emotions – especially sadness – is weighed differently by everyone and may feel amplified during specific periods in one’s life. Whether it is because of a breakup, losing a friend or a loved one, feeling like a failure, or even homesickness, understand that it’s completely natural to feel a certain way about it.

Let yourself feel your emotions, and when you’re ready, take a look at these tips to learn how to not be sad.

1. Remember That There’s a Season to Everything

Like nature’s seasons, we also go through seasons in life. Some seasons may seem longer than others, especially when it comes to dealing with emotions such as sadness, grief, sorrow, and depression. But just like nature, there is a beginning, and there is a renewal to every moment in our lives.

Take a moment to think back on the last five years. The chances are you’ve had your highs and lows, and maybe one particular year stood out more than the others. For that particular moment, event, or even year, it might have been hard to see the light or good that was to come out of it.

Trust that while it seems like everything is going against you, there is a close to every single loop in our lives. It’s also meant for your growth mentally, physically, and spiritually to have these renewal periods.


2. Embrace the Domino Effect

Other times, life will have some dominos lined up for you, and there will be a time when it’ll all come tumbling one after another–or it may seem so. Sometimes, it’s the universe clearing and paving something else, but the frustrating part of it is not knowing what is coming to fill that space.

The unknown can be an exciting thing, but it can also create restlessness, anxiety, and uncertainty. It’s part of trusting the process and knowing that others have, are, or will be going through similar emotions.

It’s not an end-all, but instead a reset button for what’s to come next. It’s a cleanse that we need and is also a reminder that maybe we have to switch our perceptions.

You’re the director and screenwriter of your life, and it’s time to embrace all your moments and even the ones you feel are against you. Making that simple switch in perception can make all the difference as you learn how to not be sad.

3. Find Your Bliss

It’s time to break away from the single-minded pursuit of happiness and embrace the thing that works for you and what’s in alignment with your values. Everyone deals with sadness in a different way–exercising, drawing, dancing, connecting with friends, or spending time with family.

Be compassionate with yourself and find what makes you happy. It’s not a one-answer-fits-all, and it’s not supposed to be. Find several things you can refer back to that brings balance mentally, physically, and emotionally.


4. Start a 5-Minute Journal

Whether you’re a writer or not, try starting a 5 minute journal and write down all the things you are grateful for. Sure, it may sound tedious at first, but use those 5 minutes that you were going to use scanning through social media or watching television towards something that can help shift your emotions.

Many successful entrepreneurs start their day with gratitude, and just by listing down the simple things you appreciate daily, you begin to notice other things to be grateful for throughout the day. Here are several prompts to get you started:

  • Who made you smile in the last 24-hours, and why did that person make you happy?
  • Was there a specific song on the radio that reminded you of a fun time in your life? How did that make you feel?
  • Think about what you had for breakfast and how it fueled you for the day. How did that energize you?

Once you start looking at the little things to be grateful for, it starts becoming a natural habit that then begins shifting your emotions automatically. Call it the happy domino effect.

5. Reach out to Someone You Can Connect With

Having a huge support system of friends and family members is a blessing as you’re learning how to not be sad, but there’s always someone you might be able to connect with on a deeper and more personal level[1].

Everyone’s circumstances and situations are different, and while you may feel that you are the only person that may be feeling a certain way about it, open yourself up to connections with others who could have felt the same way.


Breakups happen for a number of different reasons, but that similar feeling of grieving that person, relationship, and entity still exists. Homesickness may be defined differently depending on a person, but it’s that mutual feeling of longing for a place or person.

Life’s not meant to be spent alone, so find others who can help you through a tough time.

6. Change Your Perception

When my father passed away, I went through the stages of grief, as most people do. I remember texting a friend that I was angry at him for leaving, although I know that my father’s fate was not in my hands or his.

Once you go down that rabbit hole of emotions, it’s hard to come back up, especially when you feel like everything is going wrong.

However, there is no Wonderland or a magical place with all the answers. The tunnel never ends unless you stop yourself from free falling with your thoughts and find the willpower to climb out of that tunnel.

It’s about switching those perceptions and pushing your mental power– which includes seeing the silver lining in places that seem almost impossible.

Here are questions to help shift those current perceptions into more positive thoughts and ideas:

  • Life isn’t happening to me, but instead for me. What am I learning from this, and why now?
  • How can I help others with what I am experiencing?
  • Is being negative helping anyone or myself?

Keep in mind being negative and being sad are two completely different emotions. Being sad is natural, and sometimes you have to ride those emotions out; but being negative sometimes stems from unaddressed thoughts and feelings of sadness and can get in the way of improved mood and mental health.

With that, I searched for the silver lining in the sudden passing of my father and saw that the beautiful thing about death is that it brings people closer in the most bittersweet way.

7. Put Yourself First

Put yourself first and focus on self-care, especially during your darkest hours. Everyone is different, and there isn’t a clean cut and simple solution when learning how to not be sad.

If it helps, surround yourself with people, whether it be a distraction mechanism or something to start feeling good for a few moments. If it helps to turn off your phone for half the day and disconnect, allow yourself that time. If you’d rather be alone to let go and release any pent-up emotions, or even to be in complete silence and solitude, allow yourself those moments[2].

Use self-care when learning how to not be sad

    Once you show up for yourself and begin putting yourself first, you start to show up in other areas in life again.

    Here’re some self-care tips for you: 30 Self Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit

    8. Gain and Give Compassion

    Compassion is not always a skill that’s given, but sometimes it’s a skill learned[3]. As humans, we have genuine compassion towards other human beings, animals, and nature by being kind, gentle, and observant–things that flow naturally.

    Yet, there are some areas in life we will not truly and fully understand unless we have gone through it ourselves. Most times, it may be understanding traumatic experiences.


    Sadness can be an all encompassing emotion, but you’re not alone.

    By taking some time to be compassionate towards other people and their waves of sadness, you may feel more connected to that particular person, even if you haven’t gone through that particular event. In return, compassion is an energetic wave, and what you give always comes back around.

    Final Thoughts

    Sadness is a healthy human emotion and is something your family, close friends, colleagues, and mentors have all experienced. Reach out to loved ones, especially those you have a special connection with, when you’re learning how to not be sad.

    Remember to put yourself first and be open to trying new things that may seem foreign to you, such as starting a journal or exercising. When everything starts feeling like it’s hitting at once, know that there’s a season to all of this–even your darkest moments.

    More on Cultivating Happiness

    Featured photo credit: Chad Madden via unsplash.com


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