We all have crappy days. It’s inevitable. And we all have periods in our lives when more days are crappy than not. On these days, nothing will seem to go right, and certainly nothing exciting, fun, or pleasurable will happen. These days can be particularly difficult to swallow after some fun and exciting times. What is the best way to tackle these days?
The best way to handle crappy days
When I have a crappy day, I have found that the absolute best way to feel better about it is to recognize that not all days are going to be fun and work my tail off on my most important tasks to make as much progress as possible. I also try to find time for some exercise, eat as healthy as I can, and get to bed early so I can get a decent night’s sleep. But these actions are secondary; the most important thing in my mind is to work as much as I can on my most important tasks, even if there is no apparent progress.
I remind myself of the phrase derived from the Bible: “you reap what you sow.” Or the line from the song Everything You Do by Cowboy Mouth: “Everything you do is going to come back to you.” There can be many days when all of your work does not appear to produce any tangible results. On these days, remind yourself that you are sowing the soil, and that your efforts are not going to go to waste, as long as you work your butt off.
Here’s a personal example: while in school, there were many days when I would spend the entire day studying, just as I had done the day before, and just as I would do the next few days (if not longer). As I walked home on these days, I thought to myself, “Wow, I haven’t done anything fun or pleasurable in days, and I probably won’t get to for at least a week, perhaps longer. All I do is study, eat and sleep. And maybe exercise if I’m lucky.” This led to some pretty miserable walks home.
Then I started to shift my mindset: I remembered and read a handful of things online that made me appreciate my situation. One of these items was a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” (Strength to Love, 1963).
Like I did in the example above, another great way to feel better when having a crappy day is to read some motivational material. For example, if your doctor makes you fast for a few days for medical reasons, that would lead many people to have a few crappy days. However, if you do a lot of research into the “benefits of fasting” (plug that into your favorite search engine), you can do a lot to change your mindset from a position of dread and despair to excitement, pride, and fulfillment. I remember reading a magazine article about fasting once that was so motivational I wanted to try it immediately.
Embrace the crappiness
Many people suggest that when you’re having a crappy day, you should give yourself some kind of treat, like watching your favorite TV show, eating a favorite food, etc. The problem I have with this mindset is that people are always trying to escape their crappy day, in addition to potentially feeding bad habits like watching TV all night and eating un-healthy things. Instead they should be embracing these bad days.
Why would you want to embrace a bad day? Why not try to escape it? While escapism can be a healthy break at times, too much of it can lead to issues. And as one of my favorite people of all time, Bob Ross the painter, would say while painting during his TV shows: “You can’t see the light without the dark. And the same is true of life.” Embrace the dark times in your life and the good days will shine so much brighter.
Shifting your mindset
In the end, everything I’ve discussed is about changing your mindset regarding crappy days. When you find yourself in tough times with very few things going your way and little to no pleasurable activities happening, the best actions you can take are to work your tail off on your most important tasks, take care of yourself as best you can (exercise, eat healthy, and get enough sleep), and find some inspirational material or examples. You may not have any control over how crappy your day is, but you can almost always control how hard you work. So if you can’t have a good day today, you might as well work your butt off so that your future good days are even better. And if you can successfully shift your mindset about crappy days, many more days will be very fulfilling.