'You had a bad day....'

Where is the moment we needed the most
You kicked up the leaves and the magic is lost
They tell me your blue skies fade to grey
They tell me your passion's gone away
And I don't need no carryin'on
You had a bad day....


A poignant song by Daniel Powter, and yes I had one of those yesterday. It all started with getting little done and that damp feeling of being unproductive. Next CNN showed up for an interview. I knew in advance they were coming but having done many of these things in past, I just walked into it thinking: 'yeah, it will be fine'. Well it wasn't. As the questions came I was struggling with memory, dates, details and the very stuff that potenises the aforementioned--inspiration. I took off the clip on mic and thought that was rubbish. Not only that, that rubbish will be on TV!

Despite never planning to have them, bad days come to us all, and more than often unexpectedly. We may even be thinking that there is no reason in the world why I should be having a bad day today, but I'M STILL HAVING ONE! I'm not in a war zone, there is food on the table, people are nice to me, but the reality remains, I feel no less the miserable. 

As an overcast sky gradually moves on to allow for sunny spells, so too the bad days fade in our memory. And thank God for forgetfulness. As Nietzsche once said,'Blessed are the forgetful, for they get the better even of their blunders'. Luckily experience has taught me that bad days come and go. They are dots on a line, on a journey, and we must not allow them to define us. No matter what, they are ripe with opportunity, and I know, that's the sad part about learning, but learn we must.

Learning begins with toleration. That is tolerating our circumstances and most of all, tolerating being a twat. This is the first instruction given in the Gita, one of India's oldest religious texts. Equating the temporality of our feelings of happiness and distress to the ever changing seasons, Krishna instructs Arjun to tolerate them. Best to see these emotions as part of life's binary opposites, tolerate them, and thus feel the joy in transcending them. Toleration is the first self assertion that opens the way from turmoil to equanimity, from war to inner peace. Taking our best step forward despite the calamity that surrounds us requires some tolerance. 
  
Okay, now for a revolutionary thought that's for sure a somewhat of a game changer: when you feel you have completely blown it, staying calm is ineffective. Well that's what the latest research from Talent Smart tells us. After researching over a million people, they found that those who insist on staying calm tend to obsess on all the things that could possibly go badly. Alternatively, those who get excited think about how things can go well. Staying calm in and off itself is literally the act of 'putting a lid on it'. When the heat is up and the pressure is on, an explosion is waiting to happen. So beyond tolerance we have to act and act with passion. Transcending our situation allows us not to do the egotistical things, the reactive thing like walk out in a fit of anger or self defeat. You'll be glad to know that Krishna also doesn't leave it at toleration, he instead pushes Arjun, the warrior, to not only tolerate his despondency but more importantly to stay in the fight. 

Coming back to the research, Talent Smart shows that in actual fact real calmness only comes to those who turn the bad day, the misery, the crisis into energy, excitement and the behaviour that they want. Dr Travis Bradberry, president at Talent Smart and co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, breaks things down even further into steps or methods to help transform the bad days. The following suggestions are extremely useful:

Stop the cataclysmic thinking by asking yourself two questions: what is the worst thing that can happen as a result of this? And, will this matter in five years? This should give immediate perspective. 

Think clearly that there is more to me than this situation. One honest mistake won't define me.

Recognise that the people around you are less focused on you than you think they are. What's in your mind is not in the mind of others.

Magnify your logic by seeing the situation as it is, think logically, mitigate the damage, employ resources correctly and push on. Importantly, quit all the ridiculous self-accusations ( or as Krishna would say in the Gita, give up your petty weakness of heart). 

Take action. With yourself now out of the centre become an active part of the solution.  Getting your energy into rectification and problem solving is 'both empowering and a wonderful distraction'.

Don't be so hard on yourself. To err is human, you know the saying. Even Walt Disney was fired at some point in his career. Perhaps sing for a while the song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: 'from the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success'.  

Bradberry basically concludes that panic should never be a substitute for managing our emotions, developing a pan, getting busy and moving on. In brief, stand up dust off and get back in the saddle. 

Finally for those, like myself, who need more substances than just moving on. The worthwhile stuff in all of this is when we are able to grasp the lesson that had our name written all over it. That lesson may come immediately or in very challenging circumstances after years. An openness to God, nature or the universe, whatever it is you believe, will help you find the meaning that can make even the worst of nightmare situations worthwhile. 

I leave you with a quote from one of my heroes Viktor Frankl, whose life and suffering bears testimony to his profound realisation: 'In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning'.  































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