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7 Quick ways to turn a bad day around

7 Quick ways to turn a bad day around

    Have you had a bad day recently? This is me raising my hand alongside you. My most recent “bad day,” like most days, wasn’t wholly bad. It just had some bad parts that I allowed to spread across my entire day and sour the entire mix.

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    That doesn’t need to happen! While I’ve yet to reach the point where I avoid bad days entirely, here are some things I’ve found help turn what could be a bad day into something better.

    1. Make a list of things you’re grateful for

    This one is so simple! If you’re having a rotten day, grab a piece of paper and start listing things you’d be grateful for if you were in a grateful mood. As expected, you’ll soon find that the growing list of things to be grateful for in your life dwarfs whatever is ruining your day and you can move on with your life. Read more about the qualities of grateful people here.

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    2. Clear out your inbox

    If you don’t work at a job that requires you to spend time around the corporate email monster, this might not resonate with you as much. But if you do, know that your perspective can be changed dramatically just by selecting all your emails and placing them into an archive folder. If it needs to be done today, move that email back into your inbox and knock the task off. Setting aside the conversations that can wait in favor of earning a productive finish to your day will always prove worthwhile.

    3. Phone a good friend

    Call a friend who won’t allow you to gripe about your problems for more than a few minutes before turning the conversation to something far more interesting than what’s making you sad. Talking to somebody you trust who cares enough to guide you toward positive thinking has tremendous value. It’s basic, sure. But so are most things that work really well yet are so often forgotten early on.

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    4. Help out a stranger

    Doing something for others has the dual benefit of making the world a better place while at the same time taking your focus off your own problems as you work to solve another’s. If you’re having what’s shaping up to be a bad day you may find it very helpful to go out of your way to help somebody you don’t know at all or might not know very well. I always do!

    5. Drop something from your schedule

    If you’re overwhelmed by a day gone awry one very quick solution is to drop something of lesser importance from your schedule and take some time for yourself. This is terribly simple and quite easy to do but the part of your brain that tries to convince you your work won’t survive without you will get in the way. Don’t listen to it!

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    6. Take some time just for you

    Most of us don’t schedule time alone and away from others. Whether its so we can listen to music, go for a walk, a run, or grab a cup of tea in a quiet corner, taking the time you may have freed up by clearing your schedule (see above) and investing it back into yourself will render dividends galore.

    7. Start laughing

    Laughter, even if you really have to work at it to begin with, truly is the best medicine to cure any ailment that threatens to wreck your day. You can find jokes online, watch silly youtube videos, hang out with a hysterical friend, or whatever gets you giggling. The big point here is that if you are aware of what makes you laugh you’re in a great position to set yourself up to laugh even when your day tries to get you down. We can learn a lot from kids about having fun and being goofballs. That sort of childlike whimsy, if carried into your day, will help you cut off the bad days before they get out of control and help maximize the days each week you look back on and say, wow, that was a great day!

    If you’d like to chime in with additional tips or a link to something that really makes you laugh, I’d love to read your thoughts!

    Stay blessed.

    Image: PhotoRita

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    Seth Simonds

    Seth writes about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

    The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

    Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    How to Self-Taught Effectively

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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