What are the ingredients for a bad day? It could be a multitude of things. Time constraints. Children. Money. A nagging spouse. A demanding boss. A professor who sucks at teaching. The list goes on. As humans, were genetically predisposed to feeling the emotional backlash brought on by good days and bad days. That’s life. Not everyday will be peachy, and that’s okay. It teaches us how to adapt to the unpredictable nature of life. It teaches us to tap into our inner strength and exercise more patience, while humbling us all the the while . Whenever a friend calls me complaining of their bad day and what caused it, I lend an ear, offering up some advice. But I never forget to tell them, “It’s in your hands, you can choose to continue wallowing in that black hole or you can look around, remind yourself of all the good surrounding you.” Sometimes this statement is much easier said than done.  But I know it best because it’s something I had to teach myself, working through the tarnish and then though a lot of polishing, learning to practice a more beautiful outlook. To wake the deepest layer of the subconscious and realize that you always had the power to control your emotions better than you thought you did is a most pleasant surprise.

I used to think that if I had a bad day, it was bad because of things that happened that day. Example bad day:

  • Late for class
  • Professor prohibits me from taking quiz because I’m late. Lose points. Great.
  • Lunchtime: they screw up my order. Wow.
  • Someone opens their car door and hits my car in the process. Double wow.
  • Traffic jam on way back to class. Am I really gonna be late again? Damn…
  • Trip on uneven concrete and snap sandal. Win.
  • Go home to find my window is leaking, carpet wet. Sigh…

And while unlucky circumstances are definitely ingredients to a bad day, I soon realized that it was indeed me who made it seem that much worse, starting with my despondent attitude.

So I changed it. Testing myself with regard to controlling my own attitude.

Life’s got plenty of tests waiting for you; self-actualization at its best. Testing your strength.  Testing your patience. Testing your morality. Testing your confidence. Testing your humility. Testing your love. Testing your disposition. Testing, testing, testing. Always seeing just how much we can give of ourselves mentally and physically to trudge on day by day. But the thing I realized through growth, is just how much control we have over the outcome of our day. We can decide for ourselves what kind of day it will be despite those inconvenient curveballs.

Look around, you’ve got your health, your family, your friends, even your loyal pet lab who’s always ecstatic to see you walk through the door. These are small tokens of gratitude that are so often overlooked by many.

We possess more control over the context of our day that we let on. Many people fail to make this connection. They get lost in the negativity that transpired that day and unknowingly sulk in that black hole of unhappiness. Some at their worst do it for days. They become melancholic sloths of listless, emotional apathy. But there’s so much they could do to better their mood. They can choose to let these things envelop them, taken for hostage within that black hole, or they can choose the latter.

I think I’ll choose the latter.

The beauty of living is that each day holds new opportunity, another chance waiting for you to take life by the hand and assess things. So will you continue to wander aimlessly through that black hole and paint it blacker, or will you take control with how you’re feeling? When a slew of negative thoughts comes on, I remind myself of how much beauty there is to life. And there’s beauty even in the negative. It gives us lessons, and without these lessons we would be more inclined to take things for granted, forget an otherwise humble existence and forget about modesty, leading us astray into the self-destruction of our own temperament.

In extreme cases of melancholy, I look to nature for solace. Never underestimate what a quiet walk on a forest trail can do for your thoughts, assisting you in the rationalization of things. Or a solo trip to the beach in the evening, getting lost in the receding tide, filling your lungs with the salty air and defragmenting the day.

And while some would prefer to confide in their friends about whatever went wrong that day, there’s something so welcoming about the environment, having a seemingly open door policy to our emotions. Offering a plethora of wide open spaces where one can vent, daydream, hibernate;  maybe for hours or just a little while.

Next time you feel that black hole coming on, don’t paint it blacker. The beauty to life is that it’s ever changing, evolving and with each new day, commencing some new idea or inviting you to embark on a new task. So take life in stride, take the good with the bad, the ups and downs. It’s all about adaptation.