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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Published on May 4, 2021

How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

They say we are the average of the five persons we spend the most time with. For a minute, consider the people around you. Are they truly who your “tribe” should be or who you aspire to become in the future? Are they really genuine people who want to see you succeed? Or are they fake people who don’t really want to see you happy?

In this article, I’ll review why it is important to surround yourself with genuine individuals—the ones who care, bring something to our table, and first and foremost, who leave all fakeness behind.

How to Spot Fake People?

When you’ve been working in the helping professions for a while, spotting fake people gets a bit easier. There are some very clear signs that the person you are looking at is hiding something, acting somehow, or simply wanting to get somewhere. Most often, there is a secondary gain—perhaps attention, sympathy, or even a promotion.

Whatever it is, you’re better off working their true agenda and staying the hell away. Here are some things you should look out for to help spot fake people.

1. Full of Themselves

Fake people like to show off. They love looking at themselves in the mirror. They collect photos and videos of every single achievement they had and every part of their body and claim to be the “best at what they do.”

Most of these people are actually not that good in real life. But they act like they are and ensure that they appear better than the next person. The issue for you is that you may find yourself always feeling “beneath” them and irritated at their constant need to be in the spotlight.

2. Murky in Expressing Their Emotions

Have you ever tried having a deep and meaningful conversation with a fake person? It’s almost impossible. It’s because they have limited emotional intelligence and don’t know how they truly feel deep down—and partly because they don’t want to have their true emotions exposed, no matter how normal these might be.


It’s much harder to say “I’m the best at what I do” while simultaneously sharing “average” emotions with “equal” people.

3. Zero Self-Reflection

To grow, we must accept feedback from others. We must be open to our strengths and to our weaknesses. We must accept that we all come in different shapes and can always improve.

Self-reflection requires us to think, forgive, admit fault, and learn from our mistakes. But to do that, we have to be able to adopt a level of genuineness and depth that fake people don’t routinely have. A fake person generally never apologizes, but when they do, it is often followed with a “but” in the next breath.

4. Unrealistic Perceptions

Fake people most often have an unrealistic perception of the world—things that they want to portray to others (pseudo achievements, materialistic gains, or a made-up sense of happiness) or simply how they genuinely regard life outside themselves.

A lot of fake people hide pain, shame, and other underlying reasons in their behavior. This could explain why they can’t be authentic and/or have difficulties seeing their environment for the way it objectively is (both good and bad).

5. Love Attention

As I mentioned earlier, the biggest sign that something isn’t quite right with someone’s behavior can be established by how much they love attention. Are you being interrupted every time you speak by someone who wants to make sure that the spotlight gets reverted back to them? Is the focus always on them, no matter the topic? If yes, you’re probably dealing with a fake person.

6. People Pleaser

Appreciation feels nice but having everyone like you is even better. While it is completely unrealistic for most people to please everyone all the time, fake people seem to always say yes in pursuit of constant approval.


Now, this is a problem for two reasons. Firstly, these people are simply saying yes to things for their own satisfaction. Secondly, they often end up changing their minds or retracting their offer for one reason or another (“I would have loved to, but my grandmother suddenly fell ill.”), leaving you in the lurch for the 100th time this year.

7. Sarcasm and Cynicism

Behind the chronic pasted smile, fake people are well known for brewing resentment, jealousy, or anger. This is because, behind the postcard life, they are often unhappy. Sarcasm and cynicism are well known to act as a defense mechanism, sometimes even a diversion—anything so they can remain feeling on top of the world, whether it is through boosting themselves or bringing people down.

8. Crappy friend

Fake people are bad friends. They don’t listen to you, your feelings, and whatever news you might have to share. In fact, you might find yourself migrating away from them when you have exciting or bad news to share, knowing that it will always end up one way—their way. In addition, you might find that they’re not available when you truly need them or worse, cancel plans at the last minute.

It’s not unusual to hear that a fake person talks constantly behind people’s backs. Let’s be honest, if they do it to others, they’re doing it to you too. If your “friend” makes you feel bad constantly, trust me, they’re not achieving their purpose, and they’re simply not a good person to have around.

The sooner you learn to spot these fake people, the sooner you can meet meaningful individuals again.

How to Cope With Fake People Moving Forward?

It is important to remind yourself that you deserve more than what you’re getting. You are worthy, valuable, precious, and just as important as the next person.

There are many ways to manage fake people. Here are some tips on how to deal with them.


1. Boundaries

Keep your boundaries very clear. As explained in the book Unlock Your Resilience, boundaries are what keep you sane when the world tries to suffocate you. When fake people become emotional vampires, make sure to keep your distances, limit contact, and simply replace them with more valuable interactions.

2. Don’t Take Their Behavior Personally

Sadly, they most likely have behaved this way before they knew you and will continue much longer after you have moved on. It isn’t about you. It is about their inner need to meet a void that you are not responsible for. And in all honesty, unless you are a trained professional, you are unlikely to improve it anyway.

3. Be Upfront and Honest About How You Feel

If your “friend” has been hurtful or engaged in behaviors you struggle with, let them know—nicely, firmly, however you want, but let them know that they are affecting you. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, you’ll feel better and when you’re ready to move on, you’ll know you tried to reach out. Your conscience is clear.

4. Ask for Advice

If you’re unsure about what you’re seeing or feeling, ask for advice. Perhaps a relative, a good friend, or a colleague might have some input as to whether you are overreacting or seeing some genuine concerns.

Now, don’t confuse asking for advice with gossiping behind the fake person’s back because, in the end, you don’t want to stoop down to their level. However, a little reminder as to how to stay on your own wellness track can never hurt.

5. Dig Deeper

Now, this one, I offer with caution. If you are emotionally strong, up to it, guaranteed you won’t get sucked into it, and have the skills to manage, perhaps you could dig into the reasons a fake person is acting the way they do.

Have they suffered recent trauma? Have they been rejected all their lives? Is their self-esteem so low that they must resort to making themselves feel good in any way they can? Sometimes, having an understanding of a person’s behavior can help in processing it.


6. Practice Self-Care!

Clearly, putting some distance between the fake person and yourself is probably the way to go. However, sometimes, it takes time to get there. In the meantime, make sure to practice self-care, be gentle with yourself, and compensate with lots of positives!

Self-care can be as simple as taking a hot shower after talking to them or declining an invitation when you’re not feeling up to the challenge.

Spotting fake people isn’t too hard. They generally glow with wanna-be vibes. However, most often, there are reasons as to why they are like this. Calling their behavior might be the first step. Providing them with support might be the second. But if these don’t work, it’s time to stay away and surround yourself with the positivity that you deserve.

Final Thoughts

Remember that life is a rollercoaster. It has good moments, tough moments, and moments you wouldn’t change for the world. So, look around and make sure that you take the time to choose the right people to share it all with.

We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, so take a good look around and choose wisely!

More Tips on Dealing With Fake People

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via

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