Mental Health Monday, Motivation

The Little Things

You’re having an okay day then suddenly something happens and boom. Bad day central. Not something big like a car accident, a death, or a late bill but something small. You rip off a chunk of your nail. You bang your toe hard on a desk. Your dog throws up on the carpet. It’s nothing more than a nuisance but somehow, it ruins your entire day. 

Why does it do this?

Because we let it (uh oh, another post about mentalities).

When we’re having an okay day it’s so much easier to say “the day is ruined” when one of these little things happens than to look at it and say “okay. It’s just one little thing, the day is still okay.” This is partially because it’s easier to be unhappy.  Yep, I said it. It is easier to be unhappy.

These little things don’t really have the power to ruin our days like they do. What’s happening is we’re sabotaging ourselves. A dirty dish left in the sink isn’t really the end of the world. Dropping the dog’s leash doesn’t really warrant a loud scream and stomping your feet. But it happens anyway, right? Because when you’re having an “eh” day, why put in work to make it great when it is so easy to succumb to thinking it’s bad?

We aren’t mentally built to take the path that requires the most amount of effort. It’s just not in our DNA. We probably would not have gotten as far as we have in our development if we constantly took the path that asked the most of us.

But this isn’t the evolution of a society, this is maintaining and creating a positive attitude. And guess what. Sometimes you have to take the path that requires the most work.

This is one of those times.

You’re having an okay day, could go either way, and something happens. Freeze. Don’t think another thought, just wait.

  1. Take a breath or two or three. If you’re on the cusp of having a bad day, you’re going to lose your temper or break down over something small. So breathe. It’ll help stop the meltdown and prepare you for the next step.
  2. Tell yourself it isn’t as bad as you think. Do it out loud too. Thinking it is one thing, but hearing it on your own lips makes it a bit more convincing.
  3. Take another breath. GREAT! We’re making progress. We’ve established it’s not as bad you think, you’ve breathed to calm down, and now breathe again. You need to be as calm as possible for the next part.
  4. Tell yourself the day isn’t ruined. This is very important. You could stop after taking that second set of breaths, but you haven’t yet established that the day is still okay. It has not been ruined.

Then go on and go about your day.

This is good practice to remember that we are in charge, to a degree, of the kind of day we have. Obviously we cannot control everything and certainly, the big things will create stress and negative emotions. There’s no need to create stress and upset where it doesn’t need to be. If there is a spot where we can redirect our emotions and potentially save our day, we should be embracing it with arms wide open.

Please, take the time to change your perception. Eventually, these small moments that give us bad days won’t have the same impact on us. You might curse when you stub your toe, but you keep walking.

This prepares us to handle the really bad too. If stubbing our toes is the end of the world what will a car breaking down do to us? If we are in the habit of taking a second to breathe and reassess a small negative situation, there’s no reason why that won’t transfer over into a big negative situation.

So, take a breath. The day is still okay! You have the possibility of a good day just as much as a bad, but why aim for the bad? Aim for the good.

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