I was having a terrible day.
- Mini Habits went from selling 2,900 to 1,900 copies in back-to-back days to “only” selling 350 (on 2/24/13). I put “only” in quotes because the disappointment is completely relative to it’s ranking, promotional price, and prior days’ performance (many people, including me, would love to wrestle a wild boar in exchange for selling that many books per day).
- Aweber’s site was attacked and went down, meaning new subscribers had no way to sign up. Frustrated people were emailing me because they couldn’t reach the archives.
- Mini Habits, after mostly rave reviews, got its first one star rating on Goodreads, but it came from a competing author!
Why Bad Days Are Often ONLY In Our Minds
My day had negative events, but they were one-time issues. Aweber’s site came back. I’ve sorted the unfair review situation with the author. And in the grand scope of things, Mini Habits was (and is) still selling like crazy.
This made me realize something important.
Emotions Linger Beyond Their Usefulness
Negative events, while not fun, aren’t usually what hold you back—it’s your emotions.
Think about a slug making its way down a sidewalk, leaving behind a nasty trail of slime. If the slug represents a negative event, then his trail of slimy residue represents the disgusting emotions left behind.
You can’t do anything about the past. It has already happened. But it leaves behind a negative emotional residue. Because of this slimy stuff, you may continue to feel bad about the event, which will affect your present moment behavior and prevent you from recovering your day.
Good news everyone. This means your day is fully recoverable! This is also true concept on the macro level of life. Some people carry around emotional baggage from decades ago, but they can move forward starting now. The solution is the same.
The Antidote For Bad Days
What are people like when they are having a bad day? They’re easily annoyed by loved ones, eat junk food, waste time, and want to escape cold, cold reality. We’ve already covered why—negative emotions. These leftover emotions from negative events cause us to lash out, burn time, comfort ourselves with junk food, and generally want to be distracted from reality. There’s another way to handle bad days.
Decide. What’s simpler or more powerful? Making a firm decision pulls us out of bad days because:
- A firm decision gives you a new focal point. In fact, the reason we like comfort food, watching TV, and things of that nature is that they distract us from our imperfect lives. But when it comes to bad days, doing something unproductive can make us feel worse, because not only did we have a bad day, but we let it ruin our productivity too. Add guilt to the tab. Now it’s a really bad day. Focus on a useful task, though, and it will distract you AND make you feel better about your day.
- A firm decision puts you in control again. When you’re having a bad day, it’s easy to develop the victim’s mindset in that things are happening to you against your will. You may feel you aren’t in control. Making a firm, positive decision, however, reinforces the truth that there is much you can control, and what you can control matters a lot!
If I “gave up” today, I’d feel like the day defeated me. That’s no way to live! It’s better to fight back, take control again, and “distract” myself by focusing on something productive and positive. As for what to do, it doesn’t matter as much as you’d think. Making a firm decision is more symbolic than anything. It shows that you still have control.
One of the best things you can do to recover a bad day is exercise. Pour your frustration into an intense workout to fight bad days on multiple levels (chemically, energetically, productively).
This Is Obvious Advice. Use It.
There’s nothing about this that you don’t know. But sometimes we know things that we don’t “get.” Think about the relationship between negative events and negative emotional residue, and how making ONE small decision can change your trajectory, restore positive emotion, and turn your day around. It’s powerful.
In Rome last year, my $800 phone was stolen on the Metro. It was horrible. My friend could probably describe the disbelief, horror, and even fear in my face when I first realized what had happened. And there wasn’t anything I could do about it.
I made a firm decision to let it go.
It was not easy, but I was absolutely committed to not let it ruin the trip, and it didn’t. I told my friend that too, because I didn’t want him to feel bad for me. We had a blast for the remainder of an overall fantastic adventure.
Focus on what you can control.
We all know that. I’ll go deeper.
I think bad days happen because we feel like we’ve lost control.
If I saw the person who got my phone, and got it back, there’d be no problem. But when it was taken from me and I couldn’t get it back, I wasn’t in control of the situation. On my recent bad day, I felt helpless that book sales dropped, that anyone could leave a malicious review, and that Aweber’s site was down and out of my hands.
I felt like everything was going wrong and I had lost control, but in two of those three situations, I could do something about it. I could promote my book more and I could contact the author who left the biased review. Aweber’s site went down, and there didn’t appear to be anything I could do, but on second thought, I could have manually collected email addresses from interested people and added them later.
Each person is only one variable in a world full of trillions of variables. There’s much we can’t control, but so much we can control. Depending on your perspective, this can make you feel helpless or powerful.
Richard Branson is a good example of what happens when you feel powerful about the things you can control.
When Branson’s flight to the Virgin Islands was cancelled, there were no more flights going out that night. He had no control. Or did he? He contacted the other would-be passengers from the cancelled flight, divided up the cost, and chartered a plane with them to the Virgin Islands that night. He refused to accept that there was nothing he could do. This is the mindset of a champion.
This has wide-reaching implications for your life. Whenever you hit a roadblock, whether it’s a bad day, a cancelled flight, or an unpleasant surprise, you have a choice: focus on the problem or find a solution. Chances are, there is a problem you have right now that you’ve let sit and fester. Let today be the day that you take step forward and figure out what you can do to change it.
What are you going to do or figure out right now? Start with a single decision. You can turn your day around as fast as it went bad.
The subscriber-only message on 3/18/14 expands upon this post!
The expanded content will discuss the 3 traits of solutions-minded people. Join Deep Existence to read the rest.