The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
- Alan Watts
A rough day at work, a big fight with your spouse, the loss of a loved one, a setback in your business, personal issues you can't seem to get away from, the fight of addiction, and countless other challenges.
We all have different types of challenges, but we all have challenges.
We all have stress, we all experience pain, and we all ultimately suffer in some way and at some point in our lives.
But this doesn't mean that's all there is. Life isn't some big dark ball of sadness and tough times. If you know how, you can completely transform your challenges into moments of great love, gratitude, and appreciation.
The mind ultimately has problems when it closes up and centers in around itself. Conversely, it transcends problems when it opens up and expands its awareness to the whole world or reality in its entirety.
The 15 points below will not only comfort you and help you gain clarity, they'll also show you how to see into the true nature of the difficulty you're facing, transforming its meaning and ultimately changing its effect on you for the better.
15 Things You Should Know When You're Having a Bad Day
1. It's only as bad as you think it is
To some, it might go without saying, but we tend to blow things out of proportion. When something happens, however big or small, we often to imagine that our lives will be forever changed in a significant way. Or worse, that our lives are over altogether.
And then something interesting happens: the situation plays out, time goes by, and you go back to largely the same life or literally your identical life from before. This is because, for the most part, we live in our heads.
So when something happens it's not about what's happening but more about what we think and feel about what's happening, and we almost always think things are worse than they are.
The best thing you can do right now is just to get out of your head. Look around you and see reality for what it is instead of wallowing in the prison that we often make of our minds.
It's your choice how you react to the challenge, tragedy, or difficulty. That might sound a bit simplistic, but it's a fact we so often forget, or just ignore, and it's a powerful truth that you can use to change how you feel about what happened.
Even if it occurred a while back, you can still choose how you feel about it. By taking a moment to look deeply into the situation and pulling what positives you can from it, you can completely change the way you look at the situation.
2. You need the bad to have the good
"Good" and "bad", life and death, destruction and creation, and peace and suffering are all two sides of the same coin. They exist simultaneously at once on the same spectrum, constantly at play with one another in one great big cosmic dance. Without one, the other wouldn't exist.
This means that without your challenges, without your struggles, and without any of your hard times you wouldn't even know what peace or happiness was. You have to go through the time times to know what it means to be happy and at peace.
Use this knowledge to cultivate a deep appreciation for your challenges. And understand that peace and happiness don't exist solely within the good times, it exists within understanding the deeper meaning of this truth so as to transcend both and life perpetually unaffected by either in a higher state of peace. A place where joy abounds in good times and in bad.
3. It will pass (all of it, so appreciate it now)
Regardless of what you're going through, know that the stress, pain, and all the suffering you feel as a result of it is as temporary as the situation itself. Everything in life is impermanent, and this includes your challenges, stresses, and any bad day.
There's always a new day to look forward to filled with new possibilities, and the pain will subside in due time. Life acts much like a wave, where the trough or dip is a time filled with stress and difficulty, and the crescent or rise is the definition of good times. But it's because of this impermanence that difficulties arise when we cling to the various things in our life.
The "trick" is to learn how to live in a way that you're ever aware of the impermanence of all things and to live without clinging to any specific thoughts, views, and living or non-living things while still abiding in the natural flow of the ocean of life.
If you do this then the impermanence of life will become a reason to celebrate and express gratitude, love, and appreciation for everything in it and you'll simultaneously no longer be dragged down when things change for the "worse".
Don't get the wrong idea, though. This doesn't mean you won't care when a loved one passes, rather it means that because of your deeper understanding of life you're suffering will be overwhelmed by a deep sense of love and appreciation for the time you were able to spend with them, transforming the experience into something deeper, more profound, and more nourishing than the experience without this understanding.
4. Blessings are there, even in the worst of times
In every moment, whether good or bad, there's an infinite number of things to be grateful for. Whether it's access to clean drinking water and nutritious food, a roof over your head, access to the internet and communication with the world around you, or the love of your friends and family, there's certain things that most of us are lucky enough to have around us at all times that we usually take for granted.
One of the most powerful things you can do when you're experiencing tough times is to think of all the things you have to be grateful for. Start with all the obvious things and then move all the way down the list until you have to really sit and think about the things you do or have with you in your everyday life that are always there but which you never notice.
This has the ability to "even out" your emotions and perspective of the overall situation. By realizing you still have countless things to be grateful in your life you step back from your self-centered viewpoint of the world as crumbling down around you to a world of infinite beauty and blessings, and this evening out of your general perspective of the world and your life can greatly help you overcome any situation.
5. There's wisdom in every experience
By this, I'm not referring to life as some human-like consciousness or higher being trying to teach you some lesson. I mean this in a much more grounded and personally observable way. On your path, living this life, there are various experiences which will either show you or confirm in you something important.
If you live your life consciously then you'll be able to find the bit of wisdom that expressed in the situation. Let's say you were just dumped by your girlfriend or boyfriend. Or worse, just split from your husband or wife.
In this case, the lesson or reminder could be that everything in life is impermanent and that you need to go with the natural flow of life, unattached yet fully experiencing life first-hand in all its joy and beauty.
6. Each moment is a fresh new moment
Each and every day is a completely new reality. And each new moment in that day is a fresh new moment. No matter what happened, no matter what you're still going through, you can decide to completely turn things around by realizing that you're not chained to the past in any way.
Each new moment is unbound to the past, with every possibility to be completely different from the way things were or have been, and the future is no more than a pool of potentiality within our minds, so don't let yourself be pinned down by either.
See the beauty of each new moment and realize that each moment brings the opportunity to completely change everything for the better. Get out of your head and live fully in the present moment with mindfulness and you'll realize the infinite possibilities that exist right in front of you.
7. You can change the past
You can literally change your past experiences. Don't believe me? Think about something that's happened in the past. I'll use myself as an example.
When I was in high school, it was nothing special. I learned very little, didn't do anything all that great, and generally went through life half-asleep while being directed more by my impulses and immediate desires than conscious decisions.
That was back when I was in high school. I'm not in high school anymore. Now? I think high school was very special. I learned a number of very important life lessons and ultimately look on it as an overall pleasant experience.
But wait, that's literally changing my definition of the past, isn't it? And to change what you think- what you define a past experience as- is to change the past itself.
You literally have the ability to change the past. This is because what goes on in our heads is often just as real as what goes on outside. In fact, a good part of our past experience is often just that: a collection of thoughts and feelings about the past experience while we were in the moment, not only the past event itself.
If you learn this point thoroughly, you'll see that it's entirely up to you to decide what this experience is going to mean to you. And that's a pretty powerful realization.
8. You're not a victim
It's only natural to want to beat yourself up when bad things happen, so don't kick yourself for doing it. Someone gets hurt or we do something we regret and the "what if"s start popping like popcorn. We think, "What if I hadn't left?", "What if I hadn't said that?", "What if I didn't do that?", or "What if I had just done that one thing?"
It's natural to think that life is just pelting you with crap sometimes, like there's this big dude just resting on a cloud above you messing with you for the fun of it. But don't let yourself fall into this common thought pattern. You're not a victim, and it's not your fault.
Life happens to everyone, and the bad comes with the good, so it's not that your just here to be tortured, it's that life is just sometimes tough. You need to realize that there's always something you can do about any situation. In fact, that's essentially what this entire article about.
9. Go home to your breath
No matter what's going on around you, inside of you, above or below your breath is always there. It never goes away, never abandons you, and feels everything you feel. If you're angry, breath becomes heavy. If you're at peace, breath becomes long and deep. No matter what's going on, breath reflects the situation.
No matter what you can always go home to your breath. When you're going through challenges your body and mind will tend to "separate" in a sense and this leads to all kinds of problems. By going home to your breath you have the ability to ground yourself like a tree who has extended its roots deep into the soil.
Trees can weather heavy storms, and by going home to your breath and reuniting body and mind you bring peace to your breath and consequently bring peace to yourself.
10. All you can do is take it one step at a time
If all you have is the now, the present moment, and you can only ever do any one thing in this moment, then when it really comes down to it all you can do is take it one single step at a time.
Things might be really tough right now, but we can't just cast a spell and make it all disappear. And while you might have help, no one is going to do as much to help you as you and no one else can even begin to help you unless you want to help yourself.
The weight of the situation is just too much to make any large plans or to think with clarity, so all you can do is look directly in front of you and take it one single positive step at a time.
There might be a lot going on right now, and you might not know exactly how you're going to get out of it, but if you take it step by step those little actions will really begin to add up. And if you keep going, focusing on the next step in front of you and nothing else, then eventually you'll turn around and see you completely transformed the situation for the better.
11. Get out of your head and into the present
As you work out the problem, whatever it is that you're going through, you should do so in the present reality. Don't get caught up in your mind thinking the "what if"s, getting down on yourself, or worrying about what's going to happen in the future. One of the best things you can do for yourself right now is to witness reality exactly as it is and work from there.
The more you live in your head the worse the situation will get. That's just the truth. So make it a conscious decision to not only be mindful as much as possible but in general to not get sucked into the looping negative thought patterns that are so easy to get caught in during life's challenges.
Doing so will not only help you solve the problem, or if that's not possible to at least take steps to improve the situation as a whole, but it will help you find peace by resting mindfully in the present reality.
12. Go with the natural flow (but let it go)
Peace isn't found in making everything positive, or eradicating all of life's challenges and finding some "happily ever after", it's found in calmly abiding in the natural ebb and flow of life.
What that means is to live in a way that you're totally accepting of whatever may come in each moment. The highest wisdom is to live life unattached and yet at the same time allow yourself to flow with the natural ups and downs of life.
In Zen, nonattachment is a sign of the highest awakening. But this doesn't mean to live in a way that you're detached from everyday life and the world around you. This is referring more to living unattached from outcomes and ultimately not clinging to things.
To live in this way is to live normally on the surface as anyone else would, perfectly accepting of the rising and crashing of the waves of life, calmly abiding in the natural way of things, yet not clinging to anything or any outcome. It's a deep understanding of the impermanence of the entire world and that suffering and pain are experienced only when we hold tightly to certain thoughts, views, or physical things.
To live in this way is to love even greater than you've ever loved and it's also to feel a deep sense of gratitude in each moment of life and for every little thing in your life. This calm abiding in the natural way of things is the very essence of peace and happiness and the sooner you realize this, let go, and express it in your own life the sooner you'll have the ability to completely transform and transcend your life's challenges.
13. There is no path, only the NOW
This might at first seem a little negative, but it's more a clarification that will . You'll read a lot of "this is a part of your path to something greater", and in some ways this is right. We talked about impermanence and the natural ebb and flow of life earlier, and so you know things are going to get better.
But something within that I want to touch on is the belief that you'll reach some sort of "happily ever after", or at the very least some belief that life is this progressive path towards less and less suffering and naturally more and more happiness.
In some ways, if you work diligently, this can be true. You can work to gain clarity about your life and the world as a whole, realizing greater peace and happiness and learning how to transform your pain and suffering so that they don't affect you the way that they once did.
But what doesn't exist is some naturally progressive path that brings us greater peace and happiness as we experience more and more hardship. While this can be true in some sense, this isn't some natural thing that just happens and it doesn't go how most people imagine it.
This path, more cyclic than it is progressive, isn't one where you have fewer challenges, but where you have fewer attachments. The key is to learn how to transform the challenges themselves so that they no longer affect you the way they once did. And this can only be done in the NOW. That is, resting in the present moment.
In fact, it's wrong to even look at it as a path because all that ever exists is the eternal now of the present moment. If you really think and look deeply on this, you'll realize this path you envision doesn't even exist, and that the only thing that's real is the present moment itself.
Instead of looking at it as some progressive path to greater peace and happiness, understand that it's more of a progressive letting go of things so that you can rest more "in tune" with the natural vibration of life in the now. And the closer you get to matching this vibration, the happier and more at peace you feel.
Why is this important to the topic at hand? The initial idea of a "path to greatness" naturally makes us want to "push through" our difficulties. That is, as long as we just keep pushing we'll get through them and discover a better life where we're home clear of challenges.
But this just brings us further from the natural vibration of life. By looking at it as what it really is, you existing as a wave crashing and flowing with the natural flow of things, able to overcome the constant cycle by learning how to transform and therefore transcend pain and suffering, you're bringing yourself in tune with the natural vibration, or natural way, of life. And this is what brings you true peace and happiness.
14. Love yourself
A lot of things can go through our mind, and emotions can easily overwhelm us, when we're having a bad day. And the majority of those thoughts and emotions are with a critical eye towards ourselves. We feel guilty, inadequate, and sometimes downright stupid.
We tell ourselves we're screw-ups, that we aren't good enough, that the reason we make mistakes like that must be because we're missing "something", and so on.
It's because of this that what you need most right now is to show yourself some love and compassion. Understand that everyone makes mistakes and that there's nothing wrong with you nor is there anything missing from you.
Whether it was, in fact, your mistake or not, it doesn't help to tear yourself down. You need to express love, compassion, and understanding towards yourself, but only you'll know how.
It might be letting yourself know that you're not messed up, or reminding yourself that not everyone's perfect, telling yourself that everyone makes mistakes, or just telling yourself that you're good enough.
Whatever you're going through, make sure to remind yourself that you're human. By that I mean you're both prone to making mistakes but also totally and completely whole, so don't convince yourself that you're screwed up or lacking (because you're not).
15. Whatever you do DON'T QUIT
This requires the use of the other various points I've mentioned thus far, but ultimately the one thing that matters most in the moment of experiencing that challenge is just to not quit.
Whatever you do, just don't quit. What that means is don't give up thinking the situation is going to get better and don't stop living in a way that you know this will pass.
Naturally, after a while we start to get tired and begin to question if we can keep going on. While this doesn't necessarily mean the worst, that we're considering doing something very bad, it might still mean we're considering altogether giving up on the situation getting better in any way.
This is often the worst thing you can do, as this will usually open the gate to other bad things coming into your life as a result. So whatever you do, however many points on this list you have to use, if you have to talk to a loved one or send me an email because you're just not sure what else you can do- don't quit.
Remember that nothing lasts forever, and this includes your bad day and even your long-term challenges. So absolutely, positively, no matter what- don't quit.
No matter what you're going through, know that you have options. There are things that you can do in any situation to not only improve the situation itself but also to improve how you perceive the situation, which changes everything.