How to Stay Positive When Life Throws You a Curveball

Updated 03/23/17
Melodie Jeng / Getty Images

Sometimes life throws you an unexpected curveball. A family member is struck with a sudden illness. You get laid off from a job you loved. Your apartment rent just went up. The election didn't turn out how you planned. When these roadblocks pop up—and they will happen to you sooner or later—you have to adapt quickly and deal with the situation. But this can be challenging when you’re feeling down about the unfortunate circumstance.

So how do you handle adversity in life? Especially when you didn't see it coming. Find a way to stay positive. That's not to say you can’t have a good cry, but know that this time too shall pass and life goes on. At some point, you have to pick yourself up and keep moving forward. The only way you can do it is to face the curveball head on with an upbeat outlook. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Here are nine simple ways to see the silver lining, even in your darkest hour.

When you’re dumped, passed over for a promotion, or the cause of a car accident, it might feel like the end of the world. You may even think it’s the worst thing that could happen to you, but the truth is, you can’t see the future. What if there is an opening in the London office of your company and your boss wants to recommend you for the job? Had you gotten that promotion you couldn’t end up transferring. What if the owner of the shop where you take your car to get fixed ends up being your future spouse?

What looks like a loss now could end up being a blessing in disguise, so get some perspective. Remind yourself that everything is only temporary. You might have to live with your mom for the next three months to help care for your sick father, but it’s only temporary. When he recovers, you will go back to your apartment.

When dealing with a crisis, it can be challenging to handle everything else in your life. Do your best, and then leave the rest. If you normally clean your apartment every week, but now that you’re frantically searching for a new job you don’t have time, it’s perfectly okay to clean it every two weeks or once a month. Cut yourself some slack!

If you don’t have time to make yourself a healthy breakfast because you’re late to help your sister move out of the house she shared with her boyfriend whom she just dumped, it’s okay to grab a bagel and cream cheese from the corner store. It’s okay to do the minimum when you’re in catastrophe mode and feel overwhelmed.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Hire a cleaning lady to do your laundry and keep your house tidy. When a neighbor offers to make you a pot of chicken tortilla soup, say "Yes, thank you." If you feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to and don’t know how to start dealing with the situation, make an appointment with a counselor or therapist. Visit your regular doctor, explain what is happening, and ask them for advice. Remember: You’re not alone, and getting help does not make you a failure in any way.

Turn to your closest friends and family for support. If you can’t handle calling your entire family to let them know that your beloved dog was killed in a hit and run, call your cousin you’re closest with and tell her what happened. Ask her to email the rest of the family with the details of the doggie funeral.

Rally together your A-Team. These people are there for you in the good times and the bad, so if you need to cry or vent, do it. Send out email updates or set up regular weekly check-ins with a trusted friend who lives out of town. When a friend offers to take you out to dinner so you can not think about the situation for one night, go out with her!

Make time to indulge in the little things that make you happy. If you’ve been living at the hospital, take a break by getting a manicure at a nearby salon. Eat a grilled cheese sandwich. Watch your favorite movie. Wear your favorite sweater. Go to your favorite pizza place, order pizza and a glass of wine. Take yoga with your favorite instructor. Buy a new lipstick. Getting a blowout won’t make your ex want to get back together with you, but it will make you feel beautiful when you leave the salon, and when dealing with curveballs, you’re in need of moments of happiness, so call Drybar now!

If you’re laid off from your job or getting a divorce, go on a vacation. Take some time off. Get away from your normal everyday life. If you’re helping care for a sick parent, spend an hour or two each day by yourself. Go to the coffee shop and read your book or try out an adult coloring book. See a movie. Go shopping. Get a massage. Basically, you want to get your mind off of the curveball. Taking a break and letting yourself breath will help you be more positive.

Feeling overwhelmed by everything? Eliminate obligations. If you can, cut back on your workload for the next few weeks. Keep your evenings clear of unnecessary commitments. Say no. Don’t agree to see someone who may make you feel anxious or bitter. Don’t make plans on the weekends. Keep your calendar open so you can do what you want to do. Tell your boss you can’t take on the extra project, within reason of course. You want everything in life to be as easy as possible right now, so don’t create unwanted stress by saying you can do something you don’t want to do.

If you’ve been laid off and the majority of people you follow on Instagram are your old colleagues, stay off the photo-sharing app. It’s perfectly okay to avoid social media for awhile. You also shouldn’t feel pressure to share what is going on with your 2000 Twitter followers. They don’t need to know unless you want them to. If you’re going to get upset or post something that you’ll end up regretting, it’s best to delete your social sharing apps and avoid the temptation.

The curveball you were thrown will probably set your goals off track. Create new goals. You didn’t get promoted, so maybe it’s time to look for a new job. You’re not moving in with your boyfriend after all, so why not remodel your current place? Focus on the future and the things you can control. You can’t force your boyfriend to marry you, but you can go on a Mexican getaway with your best friend to get some distance from the breakup.

Enroll in a class to learn something new. Pick up a new hobby. Make a vision board with images cut from magazines of how you want your future to be. This tough time you’re going through will pass, so remember the future can be as bright as you want it to be.

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Have you dealt with a curveball? How did you stay positive?

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