Bad days are inevitable. Life can be challenging and sometimes you feel you are being kicked when you are down.
I have had some really trying days in the last few months and if you know me, I am typically pretty laid-back and optimistic. 95% of the time I have a smile on my face. I have a smile on my face not out of fakeness (is that a word?) but because although some days are far from what I hoped for I know that tomorrow is a new day and bad days do not equal a bad life.
"Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react."
Charles R. Swindoll's quote we have all heard our entire life. We almost roll our eyes at these cheesy life quotes. Maybe you even did. He was not wrong, though. We are absolutely in control of how we react to things. Usually looking back on instances we were hasty and quick, when we have a little more clarity and think "Yep, I could have handled that better."
Here are habits that help me---
1. Choose your Attitude
What? I have control over this? I am pretty sure the Devil has control of mine at times. Have you ever prayed for God to give you a little bit of breathing room in an area and it feels like the Devil hears that weakness and says "oohhh, let me just drive that stake a little bit deeper." ? Yeah, that. Regardless, I can choose for my attitude to be ill and hateful based on the things that happen around me or I can choose to not be controlled by those circumstances. Whichever we choose will certainly set the mood of the situation. It is much harder and takes more practice to do the latter but know you cannot maintain joy and peace if you have a bad attitude.
" A positive attitude gives you control over circumstances instead of circumstances controlling you."
2. Do Not React Immediately/Take a Deep Breath
This is honestly extremely grueling for me. It has been a struggle my entire life. My mom will tell you, I was a great kid but my mouth got me in trouble more than anything. I am opinionated, I cannot stand a liar, I have zero tolerance for unnecessary rudeness, and if you mess with my kids -MAMA BEAR IS COMING. In these moments of heat, sometimes I just react without thought. Ya'll, it is like the words come flying out of my mouth so fast I have no time to catch them. The tongue is a dangerous weapon, believe me, I do know it. What works best for me is to remove myself, go outside, count down from 10 (close your eyes if you must), stop immediately and pray, go hop in the shower. Give yourself some time to clear your head before acting or speaking out of anger.
"Begin each day with a grateful heart..."
3. Keep a Journal
Write down every good thing that happens. Big or small. I know that might sound silly but do it. On those bad days, reading even the most insignificant "good thing that happened" a few weeks ago will uplift your spirit so much. This is a great reinforcement for me especially on the days that one thing feels like it ruined my entire day. I have much to be thankful for and I tend to get clouded by the garbage in life. If you feel like you cannot get out of the trenches of negativity, I think this is the perfect place to start.
4. Share Kindness to Others/ Pray for Others
I keep a prayer list on the wall in my bathroom so in the mornings when I brush my teeth, I pray for things that are going on with my friends and family. When you start praying for other people actively, your perspective changes drastically.
Other habits that help me are to give honest compliments, be kind to someone who looks like they are having a bad day, listen to someone without coming with your opinion, offer help where you can help, and make someone else smile. I find joy in making other people happy. It truly brightens my day.
5. Practice Smiling
I am serious. Have you ever felt out of sorts and the more you frowned or sulked the worse you felt? Surely I am not the only one. Studies suggest that smiling activates a chemical reaction in our brain and releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. Dopamine is a hormone that increases our feelings of happiness. Endorphins are natural painkillers. Serotonin when increased lowers blood pressure and anxiety. Boom, scientifically proven....Smiling makes us happier. So try it, smile a little more. Smiles are contagious. The more you smile the more people around you will, too. No one wants to be around a Debbie Downer.
I remember when I was a kid my mom often asked me questions like, " Is that true or nice? Did you talk/were you nice to _____ today? Is that how you would want to be treated? You should pray about that. Surround yourself with kind people. Remember, actions speak louder than words." She instilled these things in me early on. Not because she thought she was without fault, she just knew kindness is never wasted. Mostly, she knew attitude is everything.
These are not self help tips for a miraculously better life. These things will not stop bad things from happening. We will still experience disappointments, unmet expectations, setbacks, misfortune, tragedy, frustrations, arguments, fatigue, and fear. These are simply things that do help me especially when I get the "you are always smiling" comment. I am guilty as the next person so please know this is not me saying that I have perfected it.
I hope today you can find joy even in your mess.