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When Bad Days Happen to Good People

Having a bad day?

If your answer is no, you are either the luckiest person in the universe or the dumbest. In this economy, every day is a bad day. It’s just that some bad days show themselves the moment the alarm clock rings, while other bad days hide in the shadows, just waiting to leap out and surprise you with some truly primo awfulness.

Not even a resolutely positive person like me can keep bad days from happening to good people like you, but I can provide a link to Geoffrey James, the writer of the “Sales Source” column on Inc. com. James, who has been diligently thinking about positive thinking, recently came up with an article on “7 Easy Ways to Improve a Bad Day.”

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Even though I am having a real stinker of a day myself — do you know how long it takes to get your Gulfstream G650 stocked with sushi and Stoli? — let me share a few of these magnificent seven ideas. As Geoffrey James says, “Don’t let a bad morning ruin your entire day. Use these mental tricks to change your momentum.” (Of course, your slug-like career hasn’t had momentum for decades, but hey, even a slime trail can seem brighter if you make an effort.)

Easy way No. 1 is to “remember that the past does not equal the future.” In other words, just because every day you have gone to work at your current job has been a bad day, doesn’t mean that your next day is going to be equally bad. Think positively! It could be much, much worse. In fact, it could be so much worse that you’ll quit. Then you won’t have any more bad days at your current job. You’ll have bad days at your new job. It won’t be any better, but it will be a different bad. (You could also catch a break and be eaten by a pack of disgruntled zombie muskrats while walking into work. Yes, zombie muskrats have bad days, too.)

Rule No. 3 is to “get a sense of proportion.” And no, James is not talking about your lumpy silhouette. He’s talking about the “big picture,” which, come to think about it, actually could refer to your lumpy silhouette. Anyway, his thought is that no matter what chain of events is making today a bad day, “in two weeks, you’ll have forgotten completely about whatever it was that has your shorts in a twist.” This is undoubtedly true, since it usually takes about two minutes for you to completely forget what is happening to you, your job or your shorts.

Bad days will also evaporate, James suggests in easy way No. 4, if you “change your threshold for ‘good’ and ‘bad.'” Totally agree, though I don’t think you necessarily should follow his advice and “decide that a good day is any day that you’re above ground.” Think of the last HR training session you attended. Compared to that bad day, being six-feet under would represent a real upgrade.

“Improve your body chemistry” is turn-around technique No. 5. “Your body and brain are in a feedback loop,” the writer suggests. “Take a walk or eat something healthy.” This definitely could be a day-changer if you agree with me that cupcakes are healthy, especially when washed down with flagons of nut-brown ale. Gosh, I’m feeling better just thinking about it.

“Focus on what’s going well” is the No. 6 suggestion. Geoffrey James asserts that “for everything going badly, there are probably dozens of things going well.” Not in your world. In your world, for everything that is going well, there are definitely dozens of things going badly. Focus on what is going well if you like, but be prepared to be run down and crushed like a bug by everything that is tragically, calamitously, irreversibly going badly. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Easy way to improve a bad day No. 7 is “expect something wondrous.” Do this because “facing the future with a sense of wonder makes you alive to all sorts of wonderful things.” This should be easy for you, since you already wonder why you were born, why you ever started on your horrible job and why you are doomed to work for bozo zombies for the rest of your days. And if that is not wonderful enough, there are always those wondrous zombie muskrats, waiting around the next corner, ready to make today the best day ever.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@funnybusiness.com.

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