It was a day from hell.
I woke up with a dull, thudding headache and full-body soreness. Most likely I had the cold that was going around. I also had a full day of clients that I couldn’t cancel on, because my husband hadn’t been working much due to some health issues of his own. Money was tight. As I was getting ready for my day, I heard the street-cleaning truck drive by…on the street I was parked on. I looked out the window and saw the $64 ticket tucked under my windshield wipers. I would add it to my growing collection. Then I noticed the pile of vomit my old, beloved, and sick cat had left on my rug. I had fifteen minutes to clean it up, finish my morning prep, and try to revive with some coffee before my first client would knock on my door. It wasn’t even 8:00 and I yearned to go back to bed.
Unfortunately, the day got worse from there.
On the fortunate side, this day took place years ago. Of course I’ve had many lousy days since. I’m sure you can relate. No matter how much wonderfulness you practice in your life, you can’t control everything. Something’s bound to go awry.
So what do you do when it feels like you’re a walking example of Murphy’s Law? Do you give up, go back home, and crawl under the covers with a binge-watching marathon and a plate of cookies? Or do you continue on, complaining all the way (you’re venting, right?) and watching your mood spiral deeper and deeper into the abyss? Perhaps, instead, you have a stoic’s approach and accept what life throws at you as you stay the course, promising yourself an ice-cold martini as soon as the sun dips below the horizon.
I often take that last option.
While acceptance—and having a treat to look forward to—is a wonderful way of dealing with lousiness, there’s something else you can do that can really change your mood (especially if you get into the habit of practicing it regularly):
Think of one thing you are grateful for right now
Oh, gratitude. (Did you just roll your eyes?)
Yes, gratitude! It’s easy to be grateful for everything that’s going right, but can you find the silver lining when the cloud is currently overhead and pouring on you? If you can’t, that’s okay. The next choice would be to focus on something to be thankful for that’s unrelated to your current woes. Both options are extremely helpful in lifting your spirits up.
You may not get that effect immediately (but sometimes you will). To experience gratitude’s mood-boosting power, practice it frequently and consistently. You will have many opportunities. In fact, you could probably start right now. What’s bothering you? Is there any hidden benefit to it, even if it’s just a lesson to be learned? Can you be grateful for that? Or are you thankful for something else entirely?
Take a few moments to truly feel the sensation of gratitude. Do you feel it in your chest, your stomach, your head, your throat? There isn’t a right answer. The key is in feeling it, acknowledging it, and being aware of it.
Think of one thing you’re grateful for right now. Do this over and over again and it becomes your reflex. Your new normal outlook. Your habit. Then, when life inevitably hands you lemons, you’ll automatically be thankful for them—and that gratitude can give you the energy to make the lemonade (or a Lemon Drop). The lousiness dissipates and your mood brightens…cheers!