I wake up to the pulsing of my phone alarm. The harsh morning light confirms the message: time to get up. I wrench my stubborn limbs from my Ikea bed frame with the willpower of a thousand well-disciplined Scandinavian cabinetry experts. Everything is a chore. Everything is a hassle.
There’s no more bread for my lunch, so my turkey sandwich turns into a turkey hand-wich (it’s all in the marketing, right? Ok, yes, it is as depressing as it sounds. I should start buying more bread). The shirt I want to wear is dirty, so
I’m wearing a dirty shirt to work I have to find a different outfit. I hit every single red light en route to the office and now I’m late. I don’t want to do anything on my to-do list. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t want to be here. Negative thought after negative thought after negative thought hijacks my mind and sends me into a downward spiral where something as small as biting my tongue becomes a crystal clear sign that the universe is out to get me. Also, I need more bread.
Stop it. As if I am important enough for the universe to take out a personal vendetta against. I need to get a grip. Better than a grip, I need to get some perspective.
I read somewhere (meaning it’s an unequivocal fact) that if you stub your toe at 3 p.m, you think, “Ow, that hurt,” but if you stub your toe at 8 a.m, you’re apt to take it as a sign that it’s going to be “one of those days.” The earlier bad things happen in the day, the more likely you are to let them affect your mood.
I am certainly an optimist, but every once in a while I get sucked into the bad mood quicksand. Like today. Only now, armed with my vague Internet recollections about “starting the day off right” (carpe diem and all that crap), I’m going to bust out of this quicksand once and for all! Operation: Get on the Universe’s Christmas Card List commences now.
Everyone knows that struggling in quicksand only makes you drown faster (Bear Grylls has also provided a handy visual reference in case you find yourself in the Sahara any time soon). So, instead of feeding into the vicious cynicism cycle, I offer you an alternative. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Relax. Recognize that you are in a bad mood. Be honest with yourself about why you feel like the world is ending because you spilled a dab of coffee on your fresh-out-of-the-dryer, definitely-haven’t-worn-this-again-without-washing-it-first white blouse. Put things into perspective. Realize that you have a choice: you can let your rough morning destroy your happiness for the day, or you can acknowledge your misfortune, smile, and let it go.
Does putting things into perspective magically make you feel better? No, but it’s a start. And on some days, that’s all we can ask for.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Clevergrrl