4. Manage the day’s slippery slope
When researchers at the University of Vermont examined Twitter feed keywords to measure for happiness, they found that happiness peaks in the morning between 5 and 6 a.m., declines steeply until midday, and then gradually hits a low in the evening around 10 or 11 p.m. “It’s part of the general unravelling of the mind that happens over the course of the day,” explains Peter Dodds, PhD, lead author of the study and an applied mathematician at the university.
Emotions are ruled by expectancy, says Vancouver’s Paterson, so manage your expectations. “Allowing for the possibility of challenges, and not counting on too much, may enable us to accept more readily the events of the day and maintain an even mood.” For example, if you prepare mentally for not getting a job promotion based on objective reasons—such as a poor economic quarter—your disappointment will be tempered by less internalization and negativity. Essentially, Paterson says, “don’t count your chickens ’til they’re hatched.” He also suggests maintaining a “long-horizon” perspective. If we can recognize the proverbial grand scheme of life, we can minimize negative reactions to daily frustrating minutiae.