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How to Turn Your Bad Days to Good Days

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Grumpy hung over man mashing alarm clock

When Alexander wakes up, it’s a terrible day from the start. He has gum in his hair, he drops his sweater into the sink and gets it wet, his brothers get cool prizes in their cereal boxes (and Alexander doesn’t), he doesn’t get a window seat on the drive to school, and the list goes on.

Like Alexander in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, we all have bad days, which is what has made this children’s book so appealing for decades. Even as adults, sometimes we just wake up, and things are bad from the start. We think, “It’s not fair!” or “Why did this have to happen to me?”

The thing I used to really hate about bad mornings was how powerless I felt. Whenever I woke up “on the wrong side of the bed,” I felt like there was nothing I could do about it and the day ahead was something I had to just grit my teeth and get through. I’d just cross my fingers, hope the next day was better, and curse whatever external force (or internal…sometimes it was my fault) had caused my day to be terrible.

What Changed My Bad Days

A few years ago, though, that all changed. Before I tell you what changed it, let me give you an example of how different my “bad” days are now.

A couple weeks ago, I woke up with a pounding headache. I’d stayed up a little too late, had a couple too many drinks, and I’d only gotten five hours of sleep. I thought about my day ahead, and it seemed terrible. I really couldn’t think of anything to get excited about, because I “knew” how terrible I’d feel all day.

But only an hour later, I was sitting at my desk working. I was a little tired due to lack of sleep, but not doing too bad. In fact, I was feeling really happy that my late night hadn’t ruined the day. As I thought about the day ahead, it seemed silly that I’d ever “known” how terrible my day would be. I’d need to go to bed a little earlier than usual, but otherwise my day would be just fine.

How did I do this? A morning ritual.

Instead of hitting the snooze button, rolling over, and waking up an hour later (this used to be my response, but funnily…that extra sleep never made my day better or changed my attitude), I jumped right into my morning ritual.

I went through all the familiar motions, things I’d done thousands of times before. I knew exactly what to do, because I do the same things every morning — the things that all the successful people I’ve studied do every morning.

And bit by bit, my morning turned around. An hour after I woke up, I was feeling a lot better. And instead of feeling sorry for myself and how bad the rest of my day was going to be, I was “eating my frog” (tackling my most important task).

You Have Control Over Your Day

Instead of feeling powerless and letting whatever has caused a bad morning control my entire day…I now choose to take control. So I stayed up too late the night before — what am I going to do about that now? So my neighbor decided to blast loud music until midnight — what am I going to do to take control of my day?

The moral of Alexander’s story is that everyone has bad days sometimes, and you can’t run away from your problems (his response in the book is that he’ll just move to Australia, where I guess he thinks no one has bad days). That’s a good moral, but we can take it further.

Everyone has bad days, but you have the power to turn them into good days.

My morning ritual makes it easy for me to turn a bad day around, and it can do the same for you.

Wouldn’t that feel great?

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1 Comment

Posted by Helmut Hauser  | November 24, 2015 at 6:53AM | Reply

Great article Thanh!

Besides the morning ritual you mentioned I use the emotional power of music to turn a bad day around – especially, if it hits me during the day, when I don’t feel motivated.
I listen to energetic music or music that makes me simply smile to overcome lows during the day.

I have written about that on my latest blog post on how music can help you to improve your productivity.

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