Published on April 1, 2021

How To Spark A Positive Mood When Feeling Dull

How To Spark A Positive Mood When Feeling Dull

It’s impossible to be in a positive mood all of the time. We all experience those odd days when we aren’t feeling like ourselves—a dull feeling, perhaps. Most of the time, before you have a chance to figure out what’s wrong, you spring back to your normal self.

But sometimes, we don’t miraculously bounce back. Instead, we see our happier times drifting further and further into the abyss. When you notice this happening, you might want to jump-start your positive mood by doing these three things.

1. Refresh or Improve Your Environment

We underestimate how much our environment impacts us. A messy home, clutter everywhere—these things can drag us down in ways we don’t realize. If you notice your positive mood is not so positive anymore, try to switch up your environment. Tidy your surroundings and invite more calm and peace into your life.

This doesn’t mean just shoving everything in sight into a cupboard and forgetting about it (if only)! It means actually dealing with things that are bogging you down—physically and mentally.

For example, perhaps you have a pile of paperwork that needs addressing (accounts that need closing, bills that need to be paid, etc.), and every time you glance at this pile of paperwork, it chips away at your positive mood. Again, don’t just shove the paperwork into a cupboard because even though your eyes won’t see it, your brain will still nudge you and let you know that something has been left unresolved.

Think about it logically: whatever you’re delaying needs to be addressed eventually. You can do it sooner rather than later, then relax and free up your diary to do more exciting things. Or you can let it linger for weeks and let it impact your mood that whole time, allowing it to cause you prolonged anxiety.

To be clear, when it comes to things like tidying up or doing chores, you don’t have to pretend to enjoy any of it. You just have to count on the fact that once it’s done, you will feel better.


Despite the can’t-argue-against-that logic, I understand that you will still resist that to-do list. We are human after all. So, if you really cannot find the energy for tackling it, then do the next best thing and get away from it momentarily, perhaps by placing yourself in different surroundings.

Take a walk to give your brain a rest. Add some music if that helps. Or even better, go after those mega endorphins. I personally find that boxing or attending spin class is incredible for immediately lifting my mood. What is your equivalent? It doesn’t even need to be an exercise. Perhaps you find joy in painting or singing or watching stand-up comedy. Whatever floats your boat—do that.

Another favorite activity of mine is hitting the sauna or a taking hot bath. Perhaps you spot the pattern of sweating as being something I find incredibly uplifting. Not all of what will lead to a positive mood has to be mental. Sometimes, a good old sweat sesh could be the best remedy for our woes.

The more endorphin-inducing things you can combine, the better. Listen to upbeat music while sipping your favorite coffee and sing along to the catchy chorus (whether you know the words or not), all while wearing your comfiest clothes—you get the idea.

I like this Instagram post by the Psychologist Dr. Michaela as a handy reference for examples of things you can do to bring about a more positive mood.

2. Lean on Creativity to Remain Positive: Have a Secret Project

The previous section of this post focused on ways to spark an immediate positive mood when you start to feel any dullness kicking in. In this section, I want to introduce the concept of a secret project as a way to prevent wandering too far into any dullness in the first place.

A secret project is a project you add towards over time, based on a topic of your interest. The key (and the magic) about this project is that:


  • You never have to complete it.
  • You don’t have to show it to anyone.
  • You don’t have to meet any targets.
  • You don’t even need to be any good at it!

It simply has to be something you find enjoyable or inspiring or both.

The idea behind having a secret project is to provide escapism from any monotony in your life. It’s a way to keep your mind creative, fresh, and constantly thinking about new possibilities.

Maybe when you daydream, you think about exciting dishes to create in the kitchen. You have so many ideas in your head but they never come to fruition because the reality is that when you get home from work, you are too tired to cook that the convenience of sticking two slices of bread into the toaster and slathering them with peanut butter will suffice.

80% of your weird and wonderful recipes never see the light of day.

In this instance, your secret project would simply be creating a recipe book of your still-to-be-tested recipes. You don’t have to make these recipes in real life, you don’t have to worry about buying ingredients you wouldn’t normally buy, and you don’t even have to worry whether it would taste any good.

You just turn to this project regularly when your mind is yearning to feel inspiration and creativity.

Other examples of secret projects could include:


  • Collecting images of your dream house, down to the exact cushions you would like to have if needs be.
  • Creating your own travel brochure with the top countries you’d like to visit, including what you would see, what you might eat, where you would stay, etc.
  • Writing down a never-ending list of new businesses you could start. The enjoyment, for you, comes not from launching any ideas but simply from coming up with them.

Sadly, many of us are plagued by a routine that doesn’t allow for creativity. Don’t let that be you. Get yourself a secret project.

3. Practice Gratitude

When we’re in a funk, it’s so easy to think that our life sucks and we are unlucky. The truth is that this mentality can further propel us into a downward spiral when what we need the most is an upward path to get us back out of our funk.

It’s when you feel at your lowest that you most need to remind yourself how fortunate you are. This can happen by practicing gratitude.

I’ll warn you now—this one isn’t easy and requires practice over time. Most importantly, do not wait until you’re in a bad mood to start practicing gratitude because it won’t work! Start when you’re in a positive mood.

Really appreciate what is great about your life when it is going smoothly—little things, big things, as much as you can. A comfortable bed, a great night’s sleep—not everyone in the world has these things. Maybe the sun appeared today. Or a friend sent you a nice message that let you know they were thinking of you.

Be mindful as much as you can in terms of what puts you in a positive mood because sooner or later, your lucky streak will end. Maybe you didn’t get the guy you liked to like you back. And in the same week, you didn’t get the promotion at work. And just when it couldn’t get any worse, you’ve gone and spilled red wine over your favorite top and it’s started to rain.

These are the times when it’s all too easy to forget about all the good things in your life. What’s happening is that the good things are being overshadowed by a series of unfortunate events because you are feeling the negative emotions with greater intensity versus the positive ones.


Have a cry—because releasing negative emotions is a genuinely important act. Just don’t linger in that space permanently. Every few hours, force yourself to find things about your life that you are grateful for and maintain a level of perspective.

If you don’t believe me when I say that practicing gratitude is a powerful thing, have a look at the outcomes of small experiments conducted by scientists.[1]

Final Remarks—Find What Works for You

Cultivating a positive mood, especially when you’re in a dull mood, is no easy task. But it’s not impossible either. You just have to find what works for you—ideally in advance of you reaching a negative state of mind. The more you understand what makes you happy, the wider the arsenal you’ll have at your disposal when things start going awry.

If you can, work on your long-term positivity by practicing gratitude every day but when you need an extra boost, turn to the things that immediately boost your happiness. And don’t forget to keep a secret project going as that will help you maintain an inspired and creative brain, both of which can help prevent bouts of negativity in the first place, especially if you are faced with a non-inspiring and monotonous routine in your daily

More Tips on Staying Positive

Featured photo credit: dusan jovic via


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Nicky Shah

Writer at, ex-business exec, University of Oxford - Inspiring you to live more of the life you want

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Last Updated on April 14, 2021

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.



Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.


Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.


When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

If you’re not sure where to start with an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s free Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.


5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via


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