Are You Having a Bad Day?

shutterstock_170980430I recently re-read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.  It is a wonderful story, and its appeal to children and adults alike (I actually bought it for my husband back when we were dating) makes it an obvious classic.  Some days it does seem like everything goes wrong.  The coffee spills over your freshly dry cleaned suit; the email you typed magically disappears; the dog pukes up something you were unaware he had even ingested; your child’s daycare is closed and you need to find alternative coverage…it can go on and on just like that.

But lately, I started wondering if Alexander saw those incidents more as moments and less as ruining the whole day, maybe the day wouldn’t have turned out the way it did- in need of a new day to rectify the bad feelings it left in its wake.  Maybe the key is that all of the things that bum us out don’t have to ruin the whole day, but only that moment. The good news is that a new moment comes along a lot sooner than a new day, guaranteed.

But, regardless of the next moment being right in front of us, it seems there’s a common belief that sometimes the only “cure” to a bad day is that the earth needs to rotate another time around; the sun rising again is the fresh start.  The sun controls that we now have permission to move on.  The sun provides us with a lot of amazing things, but does it have to be the key to moving on from negative emotions?  I would argue that it doesn’t, and that we are the ones truly in control over moving on from these terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days by instead turning them into terrible, horrible, no good, very bad moments.

Often, when the coffee spills all over us, we say to ourselves, “Oh, it’s going to be one of those days…”  This simple phrase enables us to cling onto the notion that we should continue to expect bad things to happen.  Anything that happens that remotely resembles “something bad” is now fodder for fulfilling that it is in fact one of those days.  Why fight the destiny of the day?  It’s simply easier to give into the day needing to be over.  But, it’s important to remember that we do not live in isolation and our sour mood for a whole day will directly impact those around us.  In particular for me, my two young children are constantly looking to me to fulfill their basic physical and emotional needs all day long, and they are certainly slighted if I’m doing it with a jaded attitude.  And, if these bad days start happening back-to-back, week after week, that certainly affects our mental state and those around us as well.

What are we to do then, wage a fight against the inevitability of bad days?  Maybe we don’t have to actively “fight destiny” to get us out of “those days”.  Maybe all that is required is not believing that “those days” exist in the first place, and then there’s no fight to be had. One day is made up of hundreds of moments.  At 8am when you’ve just overslept, remember that this is only one of these hundreds of moments in your whole day.  After you’ve said, “Oh, &*%#!”, make your next moments a big cat-like stretch and a deep breath.  The day is better already, isn’t it?  You’ll subsequently be calmer on your drive, not waste your energy cursing out the driver who just cut you off, and instead walk in calm and collected to realize that no one has even noticed you’re late.  And, if you still think you need a new day as a reset, remember that the sun is always rising somewhere in the world.  Australia, after all, is always a day ahead.

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