You wake up in a bad mood and the day starts badly. You spill your coffee and then miss the train to work. From then on, everything seems to go against you. You are convinced that there are mysterious gremlins or aliens out to get you and ruin your day. But once these negative thoughts start to take hold, then you are just inviting trouble into your life, rather than trying to fix it.
Peter J. Bentley has written a book about this called ‘Why Sh*t Happens: The Science of a Really Bad Day’ and explains that there is scientific evidence to explain minor accidents.
There is no conspiracy theory and there is no mystical significance either. So, forget about Friday 13th and why bad things happen in threes. Stop playing the victim and asking yourself and any deities you may believe in, ‘why me?’ Instead, just ask ‘why?’ There is usually a scientific explanation as to why these things are going wrong.
So, let us put our feet formally back on the ground and learn about some practical ways to fix a really bad day.
Step 1. Try to stop forecasting negative feelings and emotions
This is the first essential step because if you are just waiting for an accident to happen, then it will. It just leaves you more vulnerable and you are also in a negative mindset. You are just waiting to get another confirmation that you are having a bad day! Expect it and it will surely happen.
“Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace.”- Anon
Step 2. Analyze these feelings
Try to figure out what is going on. Why are you feeling like this? You may come to the conclusion that you are angry, frustrated or sad. It is important to stand back and recognize what is going on. One great method is to use is the summary technique. Just sum it up in three words. It may be ‘anxiety about exams’ or ‘sad about mom.’ The labelling process is a great way to lessen the feeling. You decide to move on. A research team at UCLA led by Matthew Lieberman, has done an interesting study on this.
Step 3. Change your routine and do a fun activity
If you have the chance, try to change your routine or the scene a bit. It could be just trying a new restaurant for lunch or deciding to have a quick walk when you see that the sun has come out. Carve out five minutes from your busy schedule so that you can watch a funny video on YouTube.
Most experts recommend that you also have a hot bath and ring a friend. Great, if you have the time. But let’s face it, most of us have to work for a living and taking a day off to fix a bad day is a luxury we cannot afford. The important thing though is to try and get off the negative track and focus on the positive thoughts. Changing your activities and routine is a great way to do that.
“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.” – Katharine Hepburn
Step 4. Cultivate a positive attitude and take action accordingly
The next step is to focus on positive actions. Try some self- talk. For example:
- “Right now, I can do X”
- “The one good thing about this awful incident is ……”
- “It could have been a lot worse, I only got a minor burn.”
- “This is the perfect opportunity to bring the issue up at the next meeting.”
“The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem.” – Captain Jack Sparrow
Step 5. List the things you are grateful for
Now that you are on the positive track, try to stay there. The next step is to think of all things that you can be grateful for. You may have a job, partner, house, family and good health. These are just a few. You can think these through or make a list. When you think of how grateful you are, this always creates a mood boost.
Step 6. Stay in the present
This is the most important step of all. Learning to forget the past and refusing to dwell on future uncertainties will force us to stay in the present. What we are experiencing now is what counts. When you cannot sleep, focusing on your breathing will help chase away regrets and worries. Concentrate on the actual breathing process. It can really help you get to sleep.
“When the past calls, let it go to voice mail. It has nothing new to say.” – Anon
So, these are the six steps to help you get over a really bad day. Why are we so obsessed with bad days? Perhaps we give them far too much attention. Just think of all the good days we have had and remember that each new day will bring us new opportunities.
“Dear Optimist, Pessimist, and Realist, While you guys were busy arguing about the glass of water, I drank it! Sincerely, The Opportunist.” – Anon
Let us know in the comments how you fix a really bad day.
Featured photo credit: A f*ckall day /tracey r via flickr.com