No matter how hard we try, how much we put on a happy face, or how loudly we sing along with our favorite songs, some days just feel like another day in the hamster wheel. Luckily there are a few ways to make it through.
An Interesting Theory about Smiling
I remember hearing once (I honestly don’t recall if I read it or listened to it on audiobook) that a smile is something you should always try to wear. It was one of those books by an optimistic that does a great job inspiring people.
Not only did the author go on to recommend smiling because it releases endorphins, but, as I recall, the claim was that because of the way it triggers areas in your brain, you could not be sad when you were smiling. I have a great deal of joy for the author, because I know that he has never dealt with the struggles that many of the rest of us do.
You Can Be Lied to While You Smile
I have tried this trick on particularly dark days, and I can attest that you can be profoundly sad even with a smile that could smack a phonebook (to be fair, when I tried to smile like that, this sentence made sense). Some of us must simply be built differently, or perhaps we are not in the daily situations that make that frame of mind so accessible.
Even Gary Vaynerchuk, a well known entrepreneur and motivational guru said, “It’s lucky that optimism comes naturally to me… I don’t think it comes natural to everybody.” I think many of us find ourselves in this boat. To make it more difficult, some research seems to suggest forcing a smile when you don’t feel it can make smiling associated with unhappiness and can drag you down during happy times. Fun!
Still, we can’t let ourselves wallow. We can’t stand still or go backwards. We have to move forward. Here are a few tricks that can help you move forward when you feel like you’re in the hamster wheel.
Find Encouragers: Find friends and family you can count on to help you move forward. Ask them to encourage you or even get them to push you if that’s what works for you. Make sure they are people that support and encourage you and don’t tear you down.
Reward Yourself: Find a reward you can give yourself. If it’s going to be something like a desert, you need to limit yourself – like allow yourself a big slice of pie, but only on Saturdays. You don’t want your reward to cause problems in other areas of your life. But infrequent or healthy rewards are a great way to move forward.
Just Do It: This one is a bear. What do you do when you just don’t have the motivation? Do it anyway. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’s horrible. And sometimes you have to trick yourself. You have to start walking to the treadmill while distracting yourself so you’re not really thinking about it. You have to turn the thing on and just say you’ll walk while you watch TV. But as you start doing it, you will get into and and make progress. You will accomplish your task and give yourself that notch in your belt to remember next time. It may not be fun, but your future self will appreciate it.
Sometimes the motivation just isn’t there. Sometimes it’s hard to get back on the hamster wheel. But the more creative you can become at motivating yourself, the more you will be able to do it during tough times. The more you do it during tough times, the more progress you will make. The more progress you make, the fewer days you can expect to sit with waning motivation.
Find those encouragers. Reward yourself. Just do it. You may find yourself motivated simply because you can’t be stopped.