2023 November 14 Turning about a bad day!

Nov 14, 2023

Hi, this is Jim Cranston from 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com, the podcast and website about reimagining your life. Thanks for joining me today to talk about those bad days. So let's get started. 


First, I'm not a medical professional. I'm just talking about things that I find personally useful and helpful. If you find yourself having too many bad days in a row, or just feeling depressed, please seek professional medical help. Dial (800) 273-8255 or 988, which is the National Suicide Hotline. You can also call 911 if you have to talk to somebody right away. There's nothing wrong with finding someone to talk things over with.


If you like what you hear today, please leave a like, tell your friends, and send me a message. 


Hopefully, we all generally expect and hope to have good days. Those are days where things tend to go right, and it's easy to be in an upbeat sort of mood. But what do you do if you're having a bad day, one of those days where it just seems like if you didn't have bad luck, you wouldn't have any luck at all?


People, perhaps worldwide, but certainly in the so called Western civilizations, seem to have a tendency to nicely group everything together in blocks of 24 hours, starting when we wake up.  If it starts off that you had a bad night - if you didn't sleep well, for example, you may consider this the start of your day whenever you stop sleeping.


So that brings us to the first point. Studies have shown that regardless of how much sleep people actually got, people who feel like they got a bad night's sleep tend to wake up feeling worse. They assume that they did get a bad night's sleep. There's actually some interesting studies on that where they actually monitor people. They had all the brainwaves that you would expect from a good night's sleep, but for whatever reason, they expected to have a bad night's sleep. Oh, I had some coffee before I went to bed. Pretty universally, they would wake up saying that they didn't feel rested. Similarly, people that had short nights or did have a restless night for whatever reason who expected to sleep well woke up thinking they slept well. Then indeed they tended to feel more refreshed.


We already know a little bit about this. We can convince our mind of just about anything. If we start the day saying that we didn't sleep well, our mind and our body will make that a true statement. Often there really are reasons to wake up not feeling perky, but we're still in control of our reactions to the situation. We can try and rearrange our day and push off some demanding tasks, or allow more time to complete some things. There may be other changes that we can make that are in our control. But eventually, you may get to some things that really have to be addressed, even though you just don't feel prepared or enthusiastic about doing them. 


So this brings us to the next option, which is to restart your day. We tried to get up feeling perky and it just didn't work. We trudged through and started our day. Everything just seemed kind of bleak.  Who said we have to continue along the same path all day? Perhaps you can just do a reset.


If you're fortunate, maybe you can take a nap. I happen to be really lucky. If I take a 10 or 15 minute nap, it really resets me, and I wake up feeling totally refreshed. A lot of people used to get really mad at me for that, because they said if they took a short nap, they just woke up feeling horrible if they didn't get at least two or three hours of sleep.


So depending on your own personal physiology, maybe you can take a break of some sort. Give yourself a treat. Do something kind of restart your day.  You have to restart with the correct attitude. You really have to try and start over. Just get up and say, Oh, okay. This is the start of another new day. Then go from there. Think about anything good, especially if it involves someone besides yourself. Looking outside of yourself generally makes the world seem a little brighter. 


Then think about one of the things that you don't feel like doing. It's on your list for today, but you just don't want to do it. Think about the smallest first step to get going on it. It doesn't matter how small. It can be infinitesimally small. Think of the next step to do after that, and then try and go do both of them.


You can look back and say that you've made some progress, and you should celebrate that. Even if it's a 30 second break, just to smile and realize you are having a better day than you expected.  Now you can continue to build upon that little teeny step and very importantly, focus on the progress and not the reason you had to restart or what might go wrong.


Use your own momentum to keep yourself moving along. It's okay if you couldn't rearrange your day, and the restart wasn't practical. Now what? Well, you can try the same trick as when you tried to restart your day, but change your focus to just have a win in any form, no matter how small.


This may sound silly, but for many of us, the hardest part is just getting started or getting any single thing accomplished. Once you start, even a tiny little bit, build upon that and make sure that you're thinking about the next tiny step you could take.  When you have a plan, even a small one, your brain will start to calm down and feel like there's a path to move forward.


That alone will start to limit the stress from seeing this impossibly big task because you're starting to make little progress and that big task will start to melt away. This may be one of those situations where you just have to buckle down and take the teeniest of steps, but do it. And very importantly, celebrate it because you're now making little bits of progress. 


If you find yourself in this position, you may also need to adjust your goals a little, but even that can be done with a bit of a twist. If you just give yourself more time or fewer things to do, then that's exactly what's going to happen. 


If you leave the original goal and say, Okay, I don't quite make it well, but I'll at least be a little satisfied that I made some progress. By doing that, you're removing a lot of the stress in your mind. When you do that, your mind will then be ready to keep moving forward and still be looking for ways to hit the full goal.


It knows the stress is off, that if it doesn't make it, the world won't stop turning. But it still wants to hit that goal because it knows it's sitting there, and your mind wants you to succeed.  Remember, your mind doesn't want you to fail. Even when you're making minimal progress, your mind will still be looking for solutions for the whole challenge. That's just how it works.


Now, you may still end up having a pretty bad day when all is said and done. You tried all these things and none of them really worked really well. It was a pretty mediocre day or worse, but you still don't have to let it be a total waste. Far from it. Even when you look back at a bad day, it's worth spending a few moments to see what you might have done differently. Think about why it was a bad day. 


Personally, most of my worst days are the days that are a day or two before I get sick. My body's simultaneously trying to get everything done because it knows it's going to be feeling bad soon, and there's all this stress because I'm trying to get all this stuff done, I'm not sure why, and I always miss the really obvious big hint that I'm in a bad mood because I'm getting sick.


If the day started off okay and got bad, think about why that happened, what happened, what triggered it, and if there's anything you could do to avoid it in the future. Perhaps you can change your expectations. I once had a 40 mile commute. It was a reasonably long commute, and that could take almost two hours during rush hour, when normally on a nice day it would take about 50 minutes, most of it was on a highway.  I finally reframed my expectations that it would take two hours to get home.


Anything faster than that was a win. I changed how I framed the problem, and the problem became much smaller in my life.  The important part is to remember that life happens for us, not to us. It's always teaching us things. Think about how to reframe things. The longer commute gave me a better job with nice people. When you remember those things, it becomes worthwhile. It's not just a pain, but it's a pain for a reason. You can remember the reason, and remember the good that it's bringing into your life as well. Everyone's situation is different, but if you really think about the reasons that you're doing something while you're doing it, there are some really good reasons, and the irritation's a small price to pay when you put it into perspective. It's still worthwhile if you can find good reasons to put up with some irritation, because then you can reevaluate the action, and see if it's consistent with your goals.  


The real message in all these things is that we really do have some degree of control over how we react to and interact with the world. That doesn't mean we can control every detail, but we usually have some amount of input into the general trend of our days, and often, a lot of input into how we react to a situation. Very important, it doesn't mean every day will be wonderful. A look at the news any day of the year will make it clear that no matter where you are, bad things are happening.


But even in times of disaster, you can see different people responding in very different ways.  It's a personification of how they have chosen to address a difficult situation. So have faith in your own power and your own strength to do as much as you desire to live your life to the best terms possible.


Perfection isn't the goal, but it's satisfaction, and satisfaction leads to joy, and that'll bring happiness. I hope you now have some new ways to overcome those difficult days and realize that often, we may be able to make some changes that at least help us through some specific challenges and help us see some of the good things that could happen during that day.


Of course, as I mentioned before, if you're on a roll of nothing but bad days, then that might benefit from some refocusing, reevaluating everything, even professional help to guide you into a different direction and assist you in seeing things in a different way. Another viewpoint is always a good thing.


Your homework (optional of course, as always) is to think about the last time you had a day that was a bad day. Then think about what you decided about it that was bad, and how that built upon itself for the whole day. Extra points if you take the next step, and then think if there's anything you could have done to break that bad cycle.


If yes, write it down. That'll help get you through it the next time it comes around and it will give you a way that you can turn things around, maybe more towards having at least a neutral day, or maybe even a good day! 


So, that's it for the evening. 


As always, there a multiple ways to donate to help Ukraine at UKR7.com. The World Central Kitchen is at WCK.org. There are a lot of other organizations right now getting aid together for the war in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas. There are a lot of ways that you can help.


If you don't want to help overseas, there are lots of organizations locally, and as I've often said, even just greeting somebody in the street and being pleasant to them when it looks like they're having a bad day, just smile at them. 


Remember, helping other people, thinking outside of yourself, really changes your perspective on the world. It makes the world a much more approachable and nicer place to be. So if you can and you're able, please check out any of the ways you can help someone else. 


As always, thank you for stopping by. If you found something interesting or useful, please pass it along and please hit that like button. If not, please drop me a comment as to what you'd like to hear. Have a great week. Remember to live the life that you dream of, because that's the path to true contentment. Love and encouragement to everyone. See you next week on 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com. Thank you. 


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