Looking up When you Want to Look Down

Have you every noticed where you look when you are feeling down or discouraged?

We look at our feet

We look at our hands

We look at the ground

We look down when we feel down. 

Likewise, when we are happy or feeling well where do we look?

We look at the sky

We look at birds

We look at others in their eyes

We look up when we are happy.

So when we have a rough day, we look down on ourselves, talk down on what we did “wrong” in the day, and we are stuck in that thought process for a while. When that rough day includes our inability to check everything off the school list, we tend to be really tough on ourselves.

This helps nothing and leaves us feeling down, affects us more, and creates a cycle


In my family, we struggle with depression and illnesses that connect to depression. In middle school I started to show some of the same signs as my family, that I was struggling with depression. Since then I have gone through many changes, read many articles, and tried many things to help break my down cycle but the one thing that I found that helps the most, often times the fastest, is simply looking up.

I cannot remember what the name of the study was but I remember in high school, reading a study that was done on the affects of where we look on how we feel for the day and even the hormones our bodies release in relation. When a group of people looked down more often in their day, to think, to dwell, to just look and see what was more at their feet, they had a lower feeling about their day and their productivity. In connection, their hormones that contribute to happiness were lower across the board. When a group of people were told to then keep their eyes up for the same amount of time in a day, the results were greatly different. Overall their moods were better, they had a better outlook on things in their lives, they were generally more positive, and the happiness hormones were higher.

Intrigue by this simple but seemingly effective method, I tried it. For a week I focused on constantly adjusting my gaze. Every time I found myself looking down, I made myself look up. I would be thinking about a bad class or a tough time at home, realize I was looking at the sidewalk as it passed, and force my eyes up and I would look at the clouds. I was still thinking about the same things, trying to figure out how to do better or “fix” something, but I was looking up.

I was surprised by how different I felt in just that first week.

Now, many years down the road, many tough times, trials, and struggles, I still do this. I still look up when I feel down and I still feel worlds better for it. Where I used to spend a week or two feeling down, struggling to feel better, it turned into maybe only a day or two. I still have tough days, I still struggle with depression trying to take over, I still have things I need to try to figure out, but I am more optimistic and I can better see possible solutions as well.

When kids are acting up and I feel like I have not taught them well enough, I am not stuck thinking on the negatives. I look up and start thinking on ways to resolve their misbehavior. When we have a rough school day and not even a quarter of the work is done but I have called it quits for the day, I am no longer stuck beating myself up mentally for the rest of the week. When I have trouble socially and am second guessing absolutely everything I said or did at a get together, I look up and find myself feeling better and more focused on the fun parts.

Where we look directly affects how we feel.

What we fix our eyes on directly affects what we focus on.

What we look at during the day directly affects how we think about ourselves.

Next time you feel down and want to look down, try looking up. You too may be surprised and you may also see better possibilities in your day. Your outlook on the school day will be better. Your feelings on your productivity for the day will be improved. Your thoughts on yourself will be better. Maybe not right away, maybe not even the first day or two, but try it for a time.

Look up and feel up.


Greetings! My name is Joy and I am currently a stay at home mom who is home schooling her three kids in South Carolina. I love learning and I love sharing the love of learning with others so getting to home school my kids and watch the “ah ha” moments when they understand something is unbelievably rewarding. I have been homeschooling since my twins were preschool age so we are going on 8 years now. I am also a military spouse so we have the added joy of being a military family with some of the complications that come with it.  As a family we stay busy with our scouting groups, American Heritage Girls and TrailLife, and we do many camping and hiking trips with them. When I have down time, I am typically reading books I have sitting around the house, on YouTube/websites getting more information on different home school programs or working on plans for homeschool. I look forward to being able to share our experiences with everyone and help encourage all homeschooling families.