We've all experienced them. From the moment you wake up nothing seems to go your way. We even have a colloquialism for it, "I woke up on the wrong side of the bed." For me, that was today.
But, while it may seem impossible in the moment, it very much is possible to turn your day around with a little focus (and fun). The choice is yours to make.
How Today Started
*Normally I like to protect my morning rituals of breathwork, exercises, meditation, and journaling, but as you might of guessed, that wasn't the case today, much to my detriment.
Today I awoke to a call from an air conditioning repair company. They shared bad (aka expensive) news. I felt my pulse go up.
Then, rather than pausing (or putting on a shirt), I immediately called my landlord and engaged in a debate about who is responsible for the $3000 bill. TBD. Even though I thought I handled it well, I felt adrenaline pulsing through my veins.
[At this point I recognized the day was not off to a good start, but not yet had the good sense to stop the bleeding.]
Then, checking my watch, I jumped in my car to make a pre-arranged visit to my auto mechanic for a simple exhaust fix, only to find out it wouldn't be so simple. It would actually be a big deal, a $1700 kind of a big deal. Aaaaaand that's all folks.
This day might as well be written off, right? Once these kind of days get started, there is no way to recover except wait for midnight to turn the Far Side calendar to the next day. Or at least that's what I use to think.
One thing I have learned when a day starts like this:
Don't work on anything of importance until the day turns around (or the next day, whichever comes first).
Bryan Says Do:
Run mindless errands
Check off easy to-do list items
Take care of some paperwork
Just clean something/anything
Bryan Says Don't:
Call your boss/partner/investor
Send out a last-minute newsletter to all your customers
Decide to give someone on facebook a piece of your mind
See your doctor for cancer screening
Criticize how your partner loads the dishwasher
And definitely, definitely(!) don't email your ex
Instead of giving up on this particular day,
I decided to make a game of it.
"Let's see what it takes to turn around this godforsaken day," I thought to myself. "I'll know it's turning around when I get my first piece of good news."
For me, for today, it was the following, in this particular order, before I got my first piece of good news:
sit ups and push ups
a latte (I rarely have caffeine, but intentionally chose a cup-o-jo for its mood-boosting properties)
30 minutes of journaling
listening to my new favorite Pandora station
pretending my email has ebola
dropping off a donation at Goodwill
a 20 mile bike ride in the rain (I think the rain helped me ground more)
AND a constant effort to remain in the here and now by interrupting mental and emotional freight trains filled with hazardous waste.
And how did I know when I turned this day around? Well, later on, after all the steps above, I decided to get a second opinion on that exhaust issue (my car, not me!). The estimate: $88 (vs. $1700 merely hours before). I drove out of there thirty minutes later with a rattle-free exhaust! (I did seem to have less gas too. "What are you, 13?" Okay, no more fart jokes, I promise.)
Tolstoy has a quote I love:
"Happy families are all alike;
every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
I think this goes with days as well. So what specifically works for me, or you, today might not work the next bad day. So play around, see what works, what doesn't. Life is practice.
In my next article I discuss ten strategies to turn a bad day around that work well all the time.
Fun entertainment: here is 90's R&B megastar Monica sympathizing with you...
While most of this came from my own experiences, I interwove techniques from Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.