3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Instantly—and Permanently—Feel Better

Been feeling bad more than usual lately? Use these tips to hack your way into an inspired and empowered attitude, and to feel better now!

You want to feel better.

Maybe you’re suffered from anxiety or depression for a while. Or maybe you’ve been feeling bad for the last week.

But no matter how much you and I try to pretend that everything’s sunshine and daisies, we all have something to feel bad about.

There’s some amount of anxiety or fear or guilt that we carry; something to be depressed about; or something to be extremely ungrateful for.

And sometimes…

Well sometimes those bad feelings make it seem like it’s impossible for you and I to ever feel better, or to focus on any of the good things we’ve got going on.

(These feelings are totally, false, btw!  You’re about to learn how to take complete control of your thoughts and feelings…so you can start feeling hope again : ) )

So you settle for feeling bad.

woman feeling bad

You get comfortable feeling bad. And because you haven’t been able to change things yourself, you start hoping that something really good will happen out of thin air to make you feel better–to give you some relief…

But the days and weeks keep passing.

No change.

The lifeline you were looking for never arrived, and the sun never broke through the clouds.

Pretty soon, you’re feeling like you’ve lost all hope.

People ask what’s wrong,

and of course you say nothing. But the mere fact that somebody asked makes you want to cry. – You’re frustrated to the point of tears almost daily. You don’t even know exactly why you’re feeling so bad; but you know that you haven’t truly felt good for longer than you can remember. And that’s the worst feeling of all.

This brings us to the conversation you and I are having now:

You searched for ways to feel better,

and I’m supposed to help you.

(Which I promise I will!)

But what makes me qualified to help you feel better?

In a nutshell, I went from a morbidly depressed, constantly-having-panic-attacks kind of millennial to a writer for the world’s best publications and a success coach in two years flat.

I spent five years feeling as bad as I could possibly feel,

Focusing on all the relationships I’d lost,

Losing all control of my thoughts,

And believing it entirely impossible to feel good or hopeful about my situation in life.

depressed man

Then, when my anxiety and panic disorder reached the breaking point,

(We’re talking 30 straight days of insomnia,)

I decided to start taking control of everything I could to improve my situation.

I picked up daily habits like journaling and meditation.

And through those amazing habits, I quickly learned that my feelings were transient things—that I could change them if I got serious about controlling my thoughts and my actions.

So I came up with my own mindfulness strategies, which I’m about to share with you.

And the results were nothing short of miraculous.

In one month I learned how to coach myself past all the self-defeating, anxiety-inducing thoughts that used to make me so miserable and stuck; and I focused 100% on improving myself and creating value to help other people do the same.

My articles on feeling better went viral for large publications like MindBodyGreen and TinyBuddha.

I started having people from all over the world tell me how much my common-sense advice made a difference to them, and many of them paid for me to coach them personally.

Most importantly, though, the strategies I used to take control of my thoughts and emotions have given me lasting happiness, discipline, and success in the writing career I’m most passionate about.

happy man, feeling good!
This is actually me

I used to make excuses for my lack of progress in life based on my anxiety and depression.

But once I started taking responsibility for every thought I had, and for my moods and attitude,

My entire life seemed to change overnight.

Okay. That’s enough about me!

Now that you know I’m not blowing smoke, it’s time for you to learn the three mindfulness strategies that will instantly (and permanently!) make you feel better.

Here goes!

1-Call BS on the negative thoughts that are making you feel so bad

Looking back, I can attribute 95% of my anxiety and depression to the disempowering thoughts that I chose to accept as fact.

“Life isn’t worth living.”

“There’s no point to anything.”

“No one could possibly love you, you’re so broken.”

– These thoughts (and many worse) cycled through my head all day, and they felt so powerful that I never even tried to resist them!

So I woke up feeling hopelessly defeated, and I went to bed feeling the same.

Since I couldn’t dream of accomplishing anything in this negative emotional state,

My only option was to distract myself from the frightening thoughts by surfing the internet all day, constantly checking email and social media, reading article after article after article. – You get the idea.

smartphone distractions
Anything to keep from feeling so bad.

(And you might know just what I’m talking about.)

When I found myself undistracted for a second, though,

And I had no accomplishment to make me feel better about myself or my situation,

My thoughts caught up with me like a tidal wave from a tsunami: and I was helpless to fight them. That’s when my constant anxiety turned into full-blown, white-knuckled, panic attacks.

You can’t imagine the terror and misery I felt.

Or maybe you can.

Either way,

All this emotional instability and helplessness disappeared in ONE DAY.

Yes…

One day.

I was taking a walk and I started having the same ruminating thoughts that always freaked me out so bad:

You don’t have a point; there is no purpose to life.”

And I was on the verge of losing my everloving sh*t when, – and I owe this to my new habits of meditation and journaling, – I suddenly called out my thoughts as being fictitious:

That’s just not true. – That’s a lie. I do have a purpose, and the meaning in my life is helping others. You’re okay, Danny. Life is good. Let’s just keep walking.

Positive thinking makes you feel good

The adrenaline response I’d felt instantly subsided.

And I was instantly and empowered to control my thoughts, evermore.

In this small victory, I now realized that I always had the ability to either accept or reject the thoughts and feelings I was having.

If the thoughts made me feel bad, and there was no truth to them, I started calling BS like I was getting paid.

“Nope, not true. Total BS. You’re all good, Danny—have courage. Life’s good.”

And because I’d learned how to take control of my thoughts and feelings, 

I finally gained control of my actions.

Where I used to make excuses for not writing an article or putting in effort, I was able to focus on the tasks that mattered most. Which made me successful. And seeing my progress as a person and as a writer gave me even more control over my thoughts and mood.

That’s not to say that sometimes I didn’t struggle with crazy onsets of anxiety,

But I always knew I had the power to change them,

And I did that by calling myself out on false, negative thinking – then by flooding myself with the truth:

You’re okay.

You’re going to be just fine.

This will pass.

And if you start doing the same, you will learn how to instantly feel better – No matter how bad you felt before!

Here’s a mantra you can practice each morning to make sure you get in the habit of rejecting negative thoughts:

I am in full control of my thoughts and feelings to-day. I’m accepting only the thoughts that empower me and uplift me today, and I’m calling BS on every negative thought, no matter how scary it seems. I’m replacing each lie I used to tell myself with the truth:

That I’m okay no matter what happens today, and that all bad feelings will pass.

That I’m worthy, and that my future is bright.

That life is good – that life is incredible.

That I’m doing my absolute best and my best is enough!

And that I have absolutely nothing to worry about!

Now that I’m taking full control of my thoughts and feelings, I am committed to improving myself, to learning and growing, to pursuing my passions, and to making life better for the people I’m called to help.

Life is good.

Life is good! So be happy!
You should feel better just reading that.

But if you say it aloud each morning in the mirror (you can say it two times, or ten, or however many you want – the more the better!), you will not only feel better in that moment, but you will strike down the old thoughts that used to make you feel so bad, and you will continue to feel better all day, all week, all month, and all year.

Because you finally have control.

(Seriously guys—print off this mantra or write it down on a 3×5 card and commit to reciting it each morning at least a few times for a whole week. You’ll feel so much better and you’ll be so much more productive that you’ll never stop, I promise!)

Now, onto the next feel-good strategy!

2-Determine to feel truly grateful for at least one thing.

There’s one bumper sticker self improvement slogan that I’m actually considering getting a real bumper sticker for on my little Mini Cooper:

Gratitude > everything else

You can’t experience gratitude and fear at the same time, says self improvement gurus like Tony Robbins and Brendan Burchard. Gratitude is the master emotion, – and it overcomes all other emotions.

And it’s so f*cking true.

Granted, you can’t just think,

“I’m grateful for this…”

And automatically dispatch whatever negativity you were struggling with.

You actually have to feel gratitude. And feeling takes focus

Which takes determination.

–You have to focus exclusively on the thing you know you should feel grateful for, and remember in vivid detail all the good feelings and connections associated with that person, place or memory; so that you force yourself to feel the gratitude that you have every right to feel.

You just have to persist!

How to start a gratitude practice

I learned the power of gratitude by committing to a strict-yet-simple daily routine:

  • Don’t leave my bed until I’ve genuinely smiled with gratitude for something, anything!
  • Spend 10 minutes each afternoon meditating about the amazing people, things and circumstances in my life.

    (That’s it!)

As you know, I used to be focused on everything that I was ungrateful for—

Like the girlfriends I no longer had,

Or the money I wasn’t making.

(Or the fact that I was 24, living on my Mom’s couch, and arguing with teenage sisters over who’d clean the bathroom….)

So when I started my self improvement journey and heard all these people talking about gratitude like it was the most important thing in the world, I actually wondered,

WTF do I have to be grateful for?

I was feeling so bad all the time that I thought it’d be disingenuous to focus on the nonexistent positives in my life. (And many of my clients actually feel the same way when they’re starting — not after the first week, though!!!)

But I started a gratitude practice anyway, because the most successful and happy people swore by it. And if it worked for them…it had to work for me too.

Don’t get me wrong, finding gratitude was pretty difficult at first.

I mean,

Imagine how much energy it takes to reverse the momentum of a train that’s a half-mile long and going seventy miles an hour!

You can change your negative thoughts!

My ungrateful thoughts were that train.

But day by day,
Thought by thought,
I pushed my mind in the opposite direction, Towards positivity and gratitude,

And within that week I was seeing an entirely new world:

One where I had been blessed beyond belief,

And where I had countless gifts, advantages and benefactors that had kept me from any real harm, body and mind, and that put me in the position to love my life and do something with my life today.

I learned that if I fought hard for one genuinely grateful thought, I had so much more creativity, so much more inspiration; and I accomplished so much more in a day! –

And that if I fought hard for those genuinely grateful thoughts first thing in the a.m,

I would not only feel better,

But I’d feel incredible for the entire day.

True story.

So the more I practiced gratitude, and the more benefits I saw, like getting amazing new publications and writing gigs, and feeling genuinely happy and inspired each day, I made gratitude a bigger part of my life.

That decision happened in one day:

I thought,

“What am I doing that gives me really good results that I could be doing more of?”

The answer came instantly:

Gratitude.
Gratitude is the only answer

That’s when I committed to the gratitude practice I mentioned at the beginning of this article.

  • Don’t leave my bed until I’ve genuinely smiled with gratitude for something, anything!
  • Spend 10 minutes each afternoon meditating about the amazing people, things and circumstances in my life.

And from the day that I made that conscious effort to quintuple my daily gratitude, the happiness and success just came pouring in.

I started getting a high volume of incredible coaching clients.

My articles started getting viral shares.

And, most importantly, I started ending most of my days generally feeling like they were the best of my life.

Best day of your life

Because when I was always grateful,

My eyes were always open to more opportunities to do things that would bring even more gratitude;

So I connected more with my friends, and wrote more inspiring articles, and took better care of my body, and did more of the things I love (like singing, playing guitar, beach volleyball) – and all of this made me a bigger inspiration and difference maker to my friends, family and audience.

How can you beat that?!

That’s why I suggest starting your gratitude practice tomorrow morning

Don’t get up until you’ve felt real gratitude that makes you smile like a Cheshire Cat.

And if you’re still not finding it and you’ve gotta get up and around, go for a gratitude walk. – The movement combined with the grateful focus is always enough to crack even my cloudiest morning mindsets.

Practice gratitude until you really smile: that's how to be happy!

Try it out!

Then make it a point to spend ten minutes in the afternoon in a comfortable position, just reflecting on the good in your life: people, places, things, events, possibilities. And once you start generating gratitude for the opportunities that you wish and hope for…

That’s when your life changes permanently.

So when you’re feeling bad, remember that you can instantly and indelibly feel better by being grateful for just one thing. Or a hundred.

Last way to make you feel better now…coming up!

3-Act Toward Your Purpose

Okay, we’ve talked about mindfulness strategies to make you feel better today. But really…

Nothing can make you feel better than doing better.

I’ve had many clients complain about how they tried all the affirmations and gratitude in the world and they still weren’t able to create lasting change or happiness in their lives.

But it only took one week of goal-setting and following through with some basic routines to create the change they’d spent years searching for!

In the same vein,

I’ve personally had so many days where I’ve woken up feeling horrible, and I couldn’t shake the dark cloud with any amount of gratitude or affirmations.

It’s in those moments that I ask myself,

“What do I really, really need to be doing?

Usually that thing can be found in my top 3 to 5 goals in my daily planner.

Daily planning is about picking out your top 3-5 goals and forgetting about the unimportant things!

Once I set to doing that thing, whether it’s writing an article or some other kind of real work, my dark cloud instantly evaporates.

It’s seriously better than Xanax.

See, you and I were designed with these inner self-improvement systems called a subconscious.

And when there are things that are critical to our development and happiness that we’ve delayed for too long, our subconscious sends out distress signals:

Anxiety…

Depression…

Guilt—

Basically bad feelings in general.

We can try to palliate those bad feelings by escaping, – through technology, pharmaceuticals, romance, or even mindfulness.

But they will never disappear until we do what’s right for us.

This is actually the reason why so many people have so much generalized anxiety, like I used to.  – They don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing, because they don’t have any defined goals. They feel bad because they’re not making progress.

So when the day ends, they always feel like they never did enough, or that they didn’t do what they really needed to. And when they wake up, they have anxiety because they fear they won’t do enough no matter what they do.

Why do you feel anxiety? It's because you're not making progress towards your purpose. Fix that with a daily planning habit!

(I can see you nodding your head – almost like you know what I’m talking about!)

That’s why I always recommend to my audience and clients that they set 3-5 meaningful goals per day in a physical daily planner.

And I’m recommending it to you now.

When you start feeling a little listless, like you just want to escape whatever uncomfortable feelings you’ve been sitting with,

Bust out that daily planner,

and get to work.

If you’re working towards things that are meaningful to your purpose and progress in life, acting towards even the smallest goal connected with that purpose will give you a sense of momentum and pride that vanquishes anxiety.

But you have to have some predefined goals.

That’s why I’m suggesting you take ten minutes each week to brainstorm the actions you can take in the next seven days to further your career, any entrepreneurial ambitions you have, and any health and happiness goals that are important to your development as a person.

Write all those realistic-yet-challenging goals on one sheet in a blank paged journal. Then every day, spend a minute picking 3-5 tasks from that weekly list,

Placing a checkbox next to each. Here’s an example:

If you do this,

Then you’ll always have something important to do that will give you pride, purpose, and confidence.

(Again, these feelings are better and stronger than prescription drugs!)

You know how when that feeling of anxiety or doubt comes,

and you decide to escape through Facebook or checking email, or whatever? –

and when the day ends,

you realize,

I totally just wasted my life?

That’s one of the main reasons we feel bad! Because we’re here to grow and experience new things and inspire other people to become the best versions of themselves too! – Not to just sit and rot! – that feels horrible!

So when you start a daily planning habit and you fill those uncertain times with positive action, you not only erase those bad feelings of guilt, but you fill your sails with purpose and progress!!!

Those feelings are so strong that they stick with you all day,

And all through the night,

So that when you wake up in the morning,

You don’t have to fight so hard for the positive mindset that you need!

So start planning out your massive actions

I suggest getting in the habit of knocking out one mission-critical task each morning after your morning routine. This is also known as ‘swallowing the frog.’

Because when you do that one challenging thing early on, it conditions you to face your challenges all throughout the day, and to refrain from seeking escapes.  

So when you end the day, having completed the most important things you could have done, and knowing that you stood up for yourself and your personal growth,

Well, there’s nothing that can make you feel better.

Conclusion

Like I said at the beginning of this article:

We all have many reasons to feel bad, and we all want to feel better–especially if you struggle with anxiety and depression, like I did..

Most people never get out of the wishing stage though, because they have no idea that they can control their thoughts–and by extension, their feelings as well.

But if you start calling BS on your negative thoughts, (making sure to use the mantra I gave you!),
If you determine to feel true gratitude as part of your morning routine and once during the day,
And if you take action towards your values and purpose (making sure to utilize a daily planner),

You’ll be in complete control of feeling as good and inspired as you need to finally live the life you want!

So start today!!!

Did I miss some of your favorite feel-good strategies? Let me know!
And if this article was super helpful to you, please share the love in the comments section below!

Written by Daniel Dowling
I went from being a highschool and college dropout to writing for the world's best publications in two short years. I owe ALL my success to habits like mindfulness and journaling. - So I built Millennial Success to share those incredible habits with you!