As a writer of feel-good love stories, there’s a LOT I’ve learned that goes into creating a good feeling. I had to rewrite Waiting at Hayden’s ten times, not because there was a problem with the story, but because I hadn’t mastered the art of making my readers feel what I wanted them to feel when reading certain scenes. “Don’t tell me they’re happy,” an editor once told me. “Make me feel it.”
This can often feel like an impossible task—both on the written page, and in our own personal lives. There’s currently so much on the news that can make us feel bad and while social media can be a wonderful way to connect is can also lead to feelings of inadequacy and comparison. I’ve talked to so many women lately who have told me how bad they feel when scrolling through their Instagram feeds because they feel “behind in life compared to everyone else.”
I don’t think we always need to feel good. There’s value in all our emotions and sometimes sitting in our blues is what we need to do. But I do believe that we tap into our best selves when we are feeling good. Psychologist and professor, Fredrickson, found that positive emotions broaden the way we think and act. We literally have access to entirely different ideas and interact with our environment in different ways when we are feeling good.
So if you’re struggling to feel good right now, here are ten suggestions pulled from writing feel good stories and what’s worked for me:
Change the scene (or add something to it): When writing Waiting at Hayden’s, if a scene wasn’t working, sometimes I’d put my characters in a new setting and it changed the feeling instantly. Or I’d add something to the setting like a candle, or a fire, or, like Nicholas Sparks’ does to enhance romantic moments, a storm! (Check out his latest book, Every Breath here!) I don’t think we need to run away from our problems, but changing our own environments can change our feelings and our perspectives about them.
Change your attire: One of the fastest ways to change your mood is to change your outfit. Clothes don’t make us who we are, but they do reflect who we are and can influence how we’re feeling. I realized how much when writing Waiting at Hayden’s and even more when styling the actors who played my characters in the videos that can be found in the story. I’ve also felt this to be true in my own life when I change my style. Putting on something that makes me feel confident or cozy (or whatever it is I’m trying to feel) is a great way for my body to instantly absorb the feeling. I’m currently loving this midnight blue dress and wore it several times on my recent trip to New Hampshire!
Act as if: Philosopher and writer William James was the first to pen the question: if our thoughts and feelings cause us to behave certain ways, can behaving certain ways change our thoughts and feelings? He found this to be true. Acting as if you’re happy, even if you’re not, can help.
Change your state: Motivational speaker Tony Robbins speaks to this. To change how we feel, he says we have to change our physiology. He often has people in his seminars jump up and down and do something physical to start. He also suggests standing with your feet hip distance apart and your hands on your hips in front of a mirror for several minutes so your body starts to feel confident. I spoke about something similar in a recent blog post. The biggest change in my writing career happened when I started to feel like a successful author and I did this by changing my state.
Talk about all the things that you love (three times!): I noticed a while back that if I said something out loud three times, I felt an emotional shift. For instance: “I really really really love this weather,” fills me with more gratitude and changes my emotional state much faster than if I just say (or write) “I really love this weather.” This book called, The Magic (The Secret Book 3), backs this statement up. Apparently there’s something called The Law of Threes which states that to change your emotional state, you have to state something three times.
Laughter yoga: I am actually certified in this. In college I had an assignment to study an unusual group, and after reading about a group of women who got together every afternoon at lunch to laugh for no reason, I joined them. The average adult laughs only seven times a day compared to the average child who laughs over 300. Since the body doesn’t know the difference between real laughter and fake laugher, Laughter Yoga trains you to laugh for no reason and still reap all the psychological benefits of laughter.
This too shall pass. This is one of the things that Oprah says she knows to be true. If you’re not feeling good, reciting, “This too shall pass,” over and over to remind yourself that your state will eventually change can be helpful.
Breath work: Breathing has become such a vital part of what makes my body feel good. It seems silly to practice breath work, but most of us don’t breathe the right way and our breath is such a powerful tool that can help our emotional state. I meet with a woman when I’m in Portland and her work his made such a difference in my life.
Watch a Nancy Meyers’ movie: Every single movie written and directed by Nancy Meyer’s makes me feel good. I studied her movies time and time again to to learn what qualities made me feel good every time I watched them in order to improve my writing. Check out my favorite: The Holiday .
Stop telling yourself to feel good: This doesn’t work in writing or in real life. I can’t tell my readers that my characters feel good, I have to convince them of this by having my characters say or do something that makes them feel good. I’ve also found I can’t tell myself to feel good simply by saying, “feel good.” That actually makes me feel worse. Sometimes I’ll write down a positive memory or even a phrase with a feel-good connotation like, “sunny day,” or “warm, crackling fire.”
Do you have any tricks that work for you?! I’d love to hear them below!