Today I've just got a short story. It happened to me early this week, and made my whole week brighter. Hopefully, a habit like this can help motivate your week this week and into the future.
We all have bad days. Days that we can’t wait to end, days in which our frustration or despair boils over. Days that, by midday, we just want to dive into bed and sleep away the remainder. I was having one of those days on Tuesday.
It wasn’t anything especially bad – no life-altering news, no super tense situations. Just a bubbling level of stress, small frustrating events, minor annoyances that compounded into a sour mood. I got home from work and begrudgingly made dinner, then got ready to sit in front of my computer, mindlessly surf the web, and finish it off with some Netflix. It was the perfect medicine – passive, not terribly self-sabotaging but also not super helpful or productive – and one I had taken many times before.
Before I started my time-wasting, I checked my daily habits in HabitRPG, a tool I use to track items I need to do every day. I’ve been wanting to start a daily journal habit, so rather than commit to a full page or a large commitment right away, I had recently added “Write down one good thing that happened to you today” as my “just show up” first step. Of course, the last thing you want to do when wallowing in a bad mood is try to look on the positive side, but it was on my list, so I opened up my Evernote and started typing. I started with something I had accomplished ahead of schedule at work and then… I just kept typing. Soon the day’s events were flowing out of me, stream-of-consciousness.
A difficult conversation I had initiated that I’d normally shy away from.
Progress I had made on a particularly difficult task.
Some new music I had discovered that I was looking forward to exploring.
A rare momentum of financial restraint where I didn’t buy an item I wanted, but didn’t truly need.
By the end of my now two-paragraph-long entry, I was smiling. Hey… today had been pretty good! In reality I had just shifted my focus away from the negative and focused on the positive – but it was enough. I now felt motivated and energized, and my plans of “netflix and chill” melted into “start writing a new song”.
You don’t have to do a lot to change your attitude about your day. Most situations are not inherently bad or good – they are whatever you project onto them. Writing just one sentence was enough for me to start thinking differently about my situation. In fact, I’ve found that writing in general, with no purpose other than to jot down your thoughts, is an amazing way to show yourself what you’re really thinking – and others have found the same. I’ve also used random yammering into my phone’s voice recorder to the same effect. You’ll be surprised where it takes you – it’s like self therapy.
So next time you’re having a bad day, force yourself to write down just one good thing that happened, or one thing you’re thankful for. It might just be enough to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step.
I’ll be posting more on writing in general, journaling specifically, and how I use HabitRPG to build habits in the near future! If you’ve used this successfully or have some other habit that helps turn your day around, leave a comment below!