Embrace a Tough Day

We all have those days when nothing seems to go right – your shirt rips as you rush to catch the train (which you miss), you then arrive at work late so you miss an important meeting. Later, you have to work late to make up for lost time and, therefore, can’t attend the opening of a hot new restaurant downtown where your new love interest is sure to turn up. Now that’s a bad day!

But a lot can be learned from a day that goes awry like this because it forces you to examine what is important and what is trivial while learning a few lessons along the way. How so? Take the example of one woman who’d recently had a day that went from bad to worse.

As a health coach, she had a busy schedule planned that included meeting a potential client at a wellness seminar. Although her day was mapped out in advance, it was thrown off kilter when her dog got sick an hour before she was supposed to leave.

Unexpected changes
She rushed her dog to the vet and was told the dog had a virus that required expensive medication that would topple her budget. With no choice but to purchase the necessary meds, she brought her dog home and gave her the treatment, then left for the seminar. But once in her car, she noticed that she was nearly out of gas – and there was no time to stop for a fill-up. She followed the directions to the seminar, but found herself hopelessly lost – with the clock ticking. Would she make it there on time? Would she run out of gas before she even reached her destination?

Finally, she found the meeting site, parked her car, put money in the parking meter and raced inside… only to find that the talk had begun 45 minutes prior and that her client was nowhere to be found. She politely excused herself to call her client, but was forced to leave a message on voicemail. As she waited for her client to show, she realized that the meter was about to run out and she didn’t have any quarters left, nor did the other people around her. Clearly, her day had been a disaster… or had it?

Unexpected gains
While others may have cursed their rotten luck, this optimistic woman chose to look on the bright side after mentally reviewing her day gone awry. “I realized I was upset about the cost of my dog’s meds, but should really have been more concerned about her health. What really matters is that she’s going to recover. The cost won’t prevent me from paying my rent, but I’ll have to do without going out with my friends after work this month to make up the cost.”

She had other realizations. “After I called the host of the meeting to apologize for coming late and leaving early, he laughed it off and said he was happy that I’d at least made the effort to show. In fact, he was so impressed by my good manners that he referred a client to me! That moment allowed me to think good thoughts about my grandmother, who had always infused a sense of propriety and good manners in me.”

More positive twists
As for the client she’d missed? “Ironically, my good manners were not something that she’d possessed. When she didn’t bother returning my calls to tell me why she hadn’t shown, I realized she wasn’t someone I wanted to work with anyway. Sure, business is business, but I’d rather deal with people who show kindness to one another.”

Her story is exactly the reason why we need to learn from so-called rotten days: Her emotions, upon introspection, ranged from gratefulness to loving warmth to relief. If it hadn’t been for her upside-down day, she never would have grown emotionally or spiritually.

Take her experience to heart next time you have a day that tests your patience and spirit. Think about what you can learn from your difficult time, how you can grow, what positive results may emerge. And remind yourself that even our worst days eventually must end. To quote that famous literary Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara, “There is always tomorrow!”

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