My definition of a good day? When something, even remotely positive, happens—a hazelnut coffee, a savory conversation, or a delightful person, on a horrible, horrible day.
I’ve cherished these days, keeping every detail alive in my fuzzy brain. After all, it’s such unfavorable times that have made me a better person and a lover of bad days.
But I haven’t gotten this far without keen observations and trials and errors. My journey from hating bad days to appreciating them was a long, contemplative one.
The evolution of bad days
A broken omelet was the first sign of a bad day when I lived with my parents. It was a pattern I noticed and a mindset that I created—a sloppy omelet led to a sloppy day. Hence, I was always mindful while greasing the pan with the perfect amount of oil, flipping it quickly, and ensuring it didn’t stick.
The fear of a bad day meant that I usually had good days. And why wouldn’t I? My routine was golden. Wake up, make breakfast, go to work, come home at six, have dinner, and sleep.
There was hardly any scope for a bad day to creep into my life. But they still did. A broken omelet followed by heavy traffic, arriving to the office late, and work disputes.
But this scope widened when I moved away from home. Most days were bad days and I didn’t need an egg to tell me that.
A bad day generally entailed one of these:
- Loneliness and those stubborn and negative “I have no one” thoughts
- A streak of overwhelming, anxiety-producing situations (being late, struggling with deadlines, a lack of groceries and the reluctance to buy them, and so on)
- Major moments of havoc (fights with friends, an argument with the landlord, professional blunders, etc.)
But ultimately, loneliness was the common thread. When you live by yourself, you process every change, every conflict, and every insecurity alone. I didn’t have anyone to rant to or seek advice from. There are times when you’re always distraught and you know everyone else is too. Who do you go to then?
So my definition of a bad day was a day that I needed to recover from but had no means to.
Turning bad days into the best ones
As a lover of jumping to conclusions, I came to one. I concluded that I had a bad life. After all, I either had horrible days or not-so-horrible days.
I would wake up and know it was going to be a lonely, lifeless day. Most days, maybe even every day. That was my rock bottom. But you know what they say about rock bottom? The only way out is up.
I stopped judging the day and started listening (I mean really listening) to myself and my body. I became my most objective self, acknowledging and meeting my needs.
At first, it started with a leave. I woke up to a body and a soul yearning for a break. So I took a medical leave and curled up in bed until I was absolutely hungry. I just wanted something to fill my stomach, so I chose cereal. I spent the rest of the day in bed, scrolling on Instagram, looking at what everyone else was up to. I remember waking up hungry again. But this time, I craved Indian food. At 8 pm I sat with the meal, breathing in the smell as each aroma played a guessing game with my senses. Then, I dug in. I savored and I treated every morsel with love. It was one of the best meals I’ve had. Not because it was delicious, but because it was exactly what I wanted.
I took this listening business seriously. I listened to what my mind said and my body felt. And then I answered with a simple yes. Want a burger? Yes. Want to cry yourself to sleep? Yes. Want to binge-watch cheesy K-dramas? Yes (always).
With time, I learned to say yes to people too. Once a neighbor’s son saw me on one of those days and asked me if I wanted to play catch. The fresh air, the movement, and his annoying yet infectious laugh made the evening bearable.
Checking in with my being and listening to my needs made every day better. I looked forward to a “bad” day just because I wanted to know what I’d be in the mood for. And I learned to seek it. Whenever I craved company, I’d ask for it; either from my flatmate or a friend who lived thousands of miles away. When no one was around, I’d wander off to a cafe.
The first step is to listen to yourself.
All you need to know about bad days
The worst days test us, tease us, and make us hate ourselves and our lives. We’re so busy chasing happiness that no one ever taught us how to handle the sadness that’s beside, inside, and around us.
If only we knew that the hardest days have the most potential to be healing ones. These are the days when the slightest smile, the shortest conversation, and the most random person can be a source of immense gratitude.
So check in, listen, and meet yourself. Oh, and be ready to inch upwards.
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