1. Don’t ruminate.
Rumination, from the Latin for “chew the cud,” is the human tendency to go over and over things, often unpleasant things from the past. For example, say you have a personal confrontation at work. You might end up thinking about it all day, rolling it over and over in your head and imagining having dealt with it in different ways.
In most situations, this is productive, because it stimulates learning. With insight gained from rumination, next time you might behave differently and avoid a conflict. This is true only if you have agency over the thing you’re ruminating about, however. If you have no control over an event—such as the outcome of an election—no amount of rumination can help you. It can only lower your happiness further.
2. Don’t personalize the loss.
One of my idle pleasures is watching “La Liga”—the Spanish soccer league, arguably the highest-level soccer in the world. My favorite team is Barça, from my adopted hometown of Barcelona. Barça’s motto is “Més que un club” (“More than a club”). When Barça wins, fans say, “We won!” And sometimes—not too often, thank God—“We lost.”
With sports, this kind of personalization is fun and relatively harmless. With politics, it has more serious consequences. As politics has become more personal, and more tied to social identity, political disagreement has become less about ideas and more a source of ego threat, meaning that the repudiation of my candidate may feel like a rejection of me personally. This kind of ego threat can hurt your relationships—say, if you interpret someone voting against your candidate as that person rejecting you—and stimulate unhappiness.
3. Don’t catastrophize. Your victory will come again soon enough.
Politicians and pundits love to talk about generational victories. How many times have you heard some talking head say something like, “This election will define American politics for decades to come”? Or, “This is the most consequential election in our lifetime”? These warnings and promises often end up being overstatements. For example, Richard Nixon’s destruction of the Republican Party in 1974, and Gerald Ford’s subsequent defeat by Jimmy Carter two years later, resulted in merely a four-year Republican hiatus from the White House. The incumbent Carter was defeated after one term by Ronald Reagan, who went on to be one of the most popular Republican presidents in history.
Read: It’s been 1,000 years since 2016
I know, I know, this time it’s different. Well, I don’t believe it. Whoever wins will surely shape the United States for the next four years, but it won’t be permanent defeat for the other side. If you are suffering, remember that tomorrow is a new day, and sooner than you think, your party will win. On the other hand, if you are celebrating today, sober up: Sooner than you think, your party will lose.