5 Things We Forget on Bad Days

Typically, I’m the kind of guy who listens and nods a lot when my friends vent. But this was the third consecutive “coffee and chat” with a guy rattling off a nonstop litany of complaints. Inflation. Politics. The weather. His kids. His wife. Nothing was good enough, easy enough, correct enough, or happy enough. So—I couldn’t help myself—I said, “Enough! Enough with all the negatives! I love you, man, but tell me five things you love about your life right now! I understand life can be difficult. But my heart needs some encouragement, some advice for a bad day. Give me five reasons to celebrate.”

It is easy to forget how much control we have over our own narrative. If we’re not careful, we can talk ourselves into dissatisfaction, even when times are good. We’re not advocating for rose-colored glasses, but in today’s world of exaggerated polarization, we absolutely have it in our power to shift the tone. Here are 5 pieces of advice for a bad day.

1. Remember that life is good.

Turn your bellyaching into gratitude and celebration. It’s easy to get nostalgic and imagine a perfect past, but life today is full with so much goodness. Coffee with my wife first thing in the morning; walking the dog in the cool, fresh air; FaceTime with my 2-year-old grandson—and that’s all before heading into work. I have so many good friends. I have enough food to eat. And I love the humble comforts of my home. The simple act of acknowledging what is good puts the negative in its place. So let’s shine the light on our blessings.

2. Notice that we live in a land defined by freedom and liberty and opportunity.

When I became a U.S. citizen, I was dazzled by what is possible here, and I still am! We even have a constitution that guarantees our right to pursue happiness. I will never stop being grateful for the choices I have; I will never take for granted the meaning of my vote; I will never forget the gift of a second chance at education. This truly is the land of possibilities! Some readers live in other parts of the world. How are you grateful for the country you live in? There is so very much to celebrate.

3. Admit it’s a beautiful world.

This good Earth is a riot of color and life and stunning beauty. Flowers, trees, hills, oceans, mountains, lakes, rivers… Every one of us lives within a short drive of spectacular scenery, or a short walk from flowers and trees. Take a moment, every day, to be grateful.

4. Pay attention to the families and friends who love us.

Take a look in the mirror; that guy is loved! Just a short chat with a child can remind us, or words of affirmation from a friend. Even that grandparent who may have passed away has left us a legacy of unconditional love. It’s worth smiling about.

5. See the opportunity to work hard and steer our own future.

No situation is hopeless. Everything that happens next, moving forward, is something we can influence for good. Sometimes it helps to take note of that fact and remind ourselves.

Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife; 5 Reasons Being Optimistic Makes You a Better Mom.

Sound off: What is your advice for a bad day? How do you deal with it?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think having a positive attitude is important?”