What to do when you’re having a really, really bad day

 Did you ever have a bad day? A really bad day? One that starts bad and just gets worse?

Yesterday started out like that for me. Bad things happened one right after the other.

What kinds of bad things?

 The first was that I didn’t make it to where I was supposed to bring my car for its inspection, which I need to get a Maryland license plate.

Then when I went to the supermarket and did my shopping , the cashier refused to accept the  so-called “courtesy checks” for the bank account I’d just opened. I was able to use a debit card from my account in Seattle, but I was very irritated because someone at the bank in Maryland had given me erroneous information about opening a joint account here.

That resulted in a delay getting a debit card and checks for the account. The bank then offered me these so-called “courtesy checks,” neglecting to mention that they were essentially useless anywhere in town.

After that I was in a really foul mood, so it’s not surprising that the next bad thing that happened is that I had a fight with my BF.

Then some good things started to happen

Even as I was feeling upset, frustrated, and super sorry for myself, good things started to happen. Five good things—one right after the other.

***  It turned into a beautiful, warm, sunny day.

***  I grabbed my binoculars and went for a walk. Hearing an unfamiliar bird song, I scanned the trees and saw a spectacular bird that I’d never seen before. It was an intensely-colored orange bird with a long tail and some black feathers around its beak.

My first thought was that—since I’m in Maryland now—maybe it was a Baltimore oriole . But later when I Goggled it, I saw that Baltimore orioles have all-black heads, not just black feathers by their beaks. I think the bird is some species of oriole (like the bird pictured above), but I definitely need to get a Field Guide to the Eastern Birds.

***  Then I got a wonderful comment from Justin Dixon on my post called Career Advice from Mom, Seriously. Justin is a thoughtful, young blogger whose posts I read regularly. He said,

This is a hard post to follow up with a comment; you covered every topic so well that its hard to add anything to it. I’m supposed to be going to a toastmasters meeting here in about a week. It will be my first one, and it is due to coming to the same conclusion as your first bit of advice. All of this is well said.

I was especially pleased by his comment because Justin is part of the audience I had in mind for this post; he’s just a few years younger than my daughter.

*** Then I saw an inspiring video on a blog called http://changingaging.org . It was a TV interview with geriatrics doctor, blogger, and author Dr. Bill Thomas.

I loved Dr. Thomas’ concept of the three stages of life—childhood, adulthood, and elderhood—each with its own challenges and accomplishments. Much more positive that the prevailing ideas about the final stage of life.

***  And the fifth and absolutely best thing that happened when I was having a bad day is that I made up with my BF.

What about you? Have you ever had a day that starts out bad and gets worse? So what do you do? Do you go for a walk? Call a friend? Treat yourself to an orange-mango smoothie and cinnamon scone at Starbucks? Take a friend to Starbucks and treat him to whatever he wants?
Photo by lipkee

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • MarkSpizer 05/03/2010, 3:22 am

    great post as usual!

  • Madeleine Kolb 04/22/2010, 4:51 pm

    Linda, Thank you for your comment. I agree that “By gently re-directing our thoughts toward the positive we set in motion a completely different cascade of bio-chemicals. So it’s not just good for your head, it’s good for your body too.” And getting outdoors and moving helps the negative thinking and the stress just fade away.

  • Linda Gabriel 04/22/2010, 11:00 am

    Love this post. What a great example of “non-negative thinking!” In order to protect us our nervous systems evolved to pay more attention to things perceived to be threatening. By gently re-directing our thoughts toward the positive we set in motion a completely different cascade of bio-chemicals. So it’s not just good for your head, it’s good for your body too.

  • Madeleine Kolb 03/22/2010, 7:34 pm

    Angela, Thank you for dropping by. So many people (of all ages) are dealing with great uncertainty these past few years–because of the economy. Getting out doors and walking helps a lot, but it’s still a struggle.

    By the way, I’m rethinking the oriole ID. I saw a bird just like the one I described, and I noticed that it had a crest on the head. I think it was a northern cardinal, but I really need to get a field guide for the eastern U.S.

  • Angela Artemis 03/22/2010, 4:51 pm

    Madeleine,
    I just went through 4 of my bird books and I think you’re right, this is some type of Oriole. It could be a Scott’s or Audobons’s Oriole.

    I’m glad you were able to turn your day around. Lately, I’ve been focusing on turning my days around as well.The last few years have not been the best ones for being in the real estate industry. It’s not easy, but part of learning how to deal with life’s challenges as we grow older. I think the trick is to to nip a bad day in the bud as soon as possible.Going out for a walk, or moving in general does help since exercise releases endorphins that do make us feel better.

  • Madeleine Kolb 03/22/2010, 2:13 pm

    Justin, I appreciate your comment and have been giving it a lot of thought. I’m wondering what sort of topics or ideas you (or other readers) would like to see? What would help you not only as you grow older but right now? I know I often think that I wished I’d known or done a particular thing when I was younger.

  • Madeleine Kolb 03/20/2010, 9:55 am

    Anastasiya, Thank you for your comment and the wonderful story about the little boy. Your conclusion is absolutely right, although some of us (ike me) need to be reminded from time to time to concentrate on the positive.

  • Justin Dixon 03/20/2010, 9:54 am

    Its kind of funny how we assume a day to be bad. It paints the mood for the rest of the day. By refocusing on these good things it can put into perspective that if each day isn’t good than it is at least neutral. Glad my comment made your day. I hope to see more articles like that last one that make me want to comment.

  • Anastasiya 03/19/2010, 6:55 pm

    Hi Madeleine,
    sounds that you actually had a pretty good day!
    I have those days some time too (and I do not know a person who does not) but I always choose to look for good things. If you look hard enough then you can always find something amazingly great in the worst day.
    A while back i was reading a story in a parenting magazine about a lady struggling to give her pessimistic 8-year old a brighter outlook on life. They had a bad day and the boy was practically in tears because he saw everything only in negative light (it was raining during the picnic, everybody was having fun but him, his younger brother was getting more attention then he did etc.) The mom got so tired of all these complaints that she told him to come up with 2 positive thing for every negative thing that he said. It was hard at first but in about 15 minutes the boy came back from the car with a list of the positive things about the day (that parents didn’t even notice!) and he enjoyed time with his family.
    I think that your story and this little boy’s sorry just show how important it is to concentrate om positive things (and to write them down preferably!) even when we are having bad days.