How many of us always have great days? I suppose that how we define a “great” day is subjective depending on what a great day means to each of us individually. More often I find myself hearing people say in response to their day, “Well today, at least I’m vertical” or “I’m on the right side of the grass.” I usually find these kinds of responses really humorous, but a little sad.
One thing that I am beginning to value more often is time. I am realizing that time is the one gift we receive that is so incredibly valuable. Our days consist of 24 hours of time which must be used wisely. How horrible it would be to live each day in a state of sadness or despair. However, we all have “bad” days from time to time. It’s all a part of life, and each of us face irritations throughout the day. Traffic congestion, poor customer service, car problems, a difficult person that we’re dealing with, etc. can cause us to think that this is turning out to be a really bad day.
However, let’s stop for a moment and realize there are some things we can do to try to turn things around. How terrible it is to stumble through a day and say when we get home, wow, I’m so glad this day is over. That is the same as receiving a priceless gift and throwing it away. It is terribly sad when we do not take the time to try to make a bad day better as the day progresses. Following are seven proactive steps we can take to make a “bad” day better:
Put Things in Perspective – No matter how badly your day may be going, let’s always consider the true importance of what is happening. Some questions to ask ourselves are, will these things actually change the course of our lives over the long term? The good news is……very likely not! Will the problem you are facing result in a tragedy such as someone being injured or killed? Probably not. Will you or anyone likely remember a problem you are facing this particular day in one month? In one year? In five years? In most cases, the answer is absolutely not. This answer helps put things in perspective very quickly.
Recognize Learning Opportunities & Teachable Moments For Ourselves – At the end of a challenging day, it always helps to take a quick look back and try to identify lessons to learn which may make you a better person. But keep this principle in mind…. It doesn’t hurt to take a quick look back to see what could have been done better or to experience a teachable moment. However, we can’t find ourselves focusing on the past. We have to turn our attention and hopes forward toward the future where the opportunities for fulfillment and success are. Compare it to a rearview mirror in a car. The rearview mirror is very small in comparison to the windshield. The thing to remember is that we need to look forward to where we are going much more than we need to look backward.
Help Someone Else – It makes us feel good when others reach out to help and give to us. The interesting thing is that it feels even better when we reach out and give to others. When you are having a day that isn’t one of your most enjoyable, try to look for an opportunity to help someone either at work or elsewhere. Giving is one of the most therapeutic activities we can do. Many times it gives us the great feeling we need to overcome and blow off the low points in a difficult day. An old Chinese proverb says, “Flowers leave some fragrance in the hand that bestows them.”
Be Grateful – Take a moment to pause and think about all the blessings you have in your life. Think about your family, friends, good health, good job, opportunities, our freedoms…. all the things we tend to take for granted. Reflecting on these gifts has a powerful tendency to melt away the frustrations that we so often face. This step is closely related to putting things in proper perspective.
Take Some Time To Step Away – If your day is proving to be a difficult one, it usually helps just to take some time to get away for lunch or dinner at one of your favorite restaurants. Try to make this a time to “recharge your batteries” and enjoy a relaxing time with some coworkers, confidants, family or friends. This helps you take a deep breath, clear the mind, and then get you ready to finish the day strong and with a different perspective on things.
Praise Yourself – If you are like most people, we all appreciate and get a little “rush” and a sense of pride when we receive compliments about ourselves. It feels great when others recognize your talents and skills, and this certainly can positively affect your mood and improve performance for throughout the day. Similarly, it does not hurt to pause and identify all of the accomplishments and good things you have done over your career. Will having a bad day minimize who you are as a successful person with many outstanding accomplishments throughout your career? Absolutely not! As a matter of fact, identify and utilize your strengths and successes to overcome difficulties and become more confident in who you are as an employee, a leader, a spouse, and parent. You pick the role and then take some time to reflect on past difficult times and how you have overcome them. After all, why should we allow one single day to define us as individuals and who we are?
Get Some Exercise – It is a well-known fact that exercise improves our moods and emotions. Stepping away from your desk and taking a brisk walk outside, if the weather permits, is a great way to get ourselves “recalibrated” to get through difficulties and finish the day strong. Research shows that exercising for as little as 10 to 20 minutes has a tremendously positive effect on mood.
Also, deep breathing and relaxation techniques are a good way to calm down and get control of our emotions and rethink the difficulties of the day.
Can you think of other ways to turn a bad day into the gift it was meant to be?
“Don’t ever waste a day. Once time goes by, you never get it back.”