How To Handle Down Days
Improving A Bad Attitude
Most everyone of us has down days. You know, those days when motivation, energy and attitude are at a low. Here are some mental skills to work on the next time you feel down. As these skills improve you will start feeling better, accomplishing more and having fewer down days.
Accentuate-The-Positive …… Garbage-In-Garbage-Out
Be Here Now … top
Being mentally in the present is a great escape from thinking about past sadness or thinking about future worries. It also often leads to better outcomes such as increased output and fewer mistakes.
Being here now involves two or three related “attention” skills:
(1) Letting go of unrelated outside thoughts, in particular thoughts about the past or future. When they pop up, which they will, practice letting such distractions just drift away without hooking your attention. Don’t try harder just practice letting go.
Your mindful awareness of what is happening in the here and now will automatically increase as you practice meditation. You will noticing things in your conscious and subconscious minds that stunt the growth of your mind, body, and spirit. And, awareness is an important first step in making a positive change.
(2) Focusing completely on one chosen thought or thing. Practice being completely absorbed with whatever you select. Again, don’t force this but rather practice a relaxed deep involvement.
Each of these skills helps perfect the other as you practice going deeper and deeper into the here and now. Most gurus regularly meditate in order to develop them. You can also practice them for a few seconds at a time during your everyday life. Either way helps you feel better by “disappearing” negative past sadness & future worries as you dive ever more deeply into the present. By the way, these skills also help make time fly because you are not keeping track of it.
Here’s a related trick to help you focus on the baby step at hand. Separate the thinking parts from the doing parts of your goals by making a quick initial flyover during which you create a simple to do list. This flyby makes it easier to focus on the moment by helping to make sure you have not missed something important. It’s part of doing “first things first, one thing at a time.”
From this to do list select a single small task which you can completely focus on right here right now. If distracting ideas of import pop up quickly note them on the to do list for review during the next flyover. Once the small task is done do a quick clean up (CAGO) as a break and then do a new flyby.
Baby Steps … top
Confusion and lack of energy often accompany bad days. One good way to keep moving through these problems is baby steps, i.e., simple, easy, obvious steps you know will eventually need to done later anyway.
Rather than further demoralize yourself by trying to solve the most complex problem on your plate focus on obvious & easy baby steps. I.e., do small specific useful tasks that don’t take much will power but still move you in a good direction. Some examples might be updating your notes, filing, clearing your desk, making a needed trip or reconciling your check book.
Sometimes you may not be able to avoid a big task which needs to be done immediately. A good approach then is to break it into parts. Make a very simple brainstorming diagram on a completely clean sheet of paper. Add branches & sub-branches containing anything vaguely related to the task as they come to mind. If something easy & obvious to do doesn’t pop up then break the easiest branch down further and further until a useful baby step appears which will start you moving in the right general direction. Write it down then do it. Be careful though and make sure the baby step is relevant to the task at hand so that you don’t use it as an escape.
Act As If … top
Studies prove that feelings follow actions and actions follow feelings. There is a well proved feedback loop between acting happy and being happy. For example, it is literally true that if you smile you will feel better.
BTW, notice that it is not necessary to feel good to get started. Like Nike says, just do it.
Bad actions tend to happen automatically when you have not thought through a situation beforehand. So, analyzing past situations and preparing for future ones is a good use of thinking time.
Accentuate the Positive … top
Accentuate positives by noticing them a bit longer, celebrating each one, or mentally listing 1-3 things you’re are grateful for right now. Physically smiling about them helps too.
Micro moments of positivity accumulate; therefore, continuously be on the look out for the small positive moments in your day. They definitely exist even on down days! Once you start looking for positives you will find that more and more become visible.
Here are some examples of small positives to consider noticing: playing with your dog, enjoying the sun or air, celebrating even the smallest of successes, being grateful for the nice view out of your window.
Related Ideas: GIGO. Glass half full. 3 gratitudes exercise (3G3 http://robscott.com/gratitude-tutorial/). Count your blessings, name them one by one. Accentuate the positive, release the negative. Eliminate negatives. Increase the upside, reduce the risk.
GIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out … top
A large number of scientific studies prove that we all are much more affected by our environment than we consciously realize. Start purposefully watching and analyzing your thoughts and your environment. Then start control controlling them so they help you rather than hurt.
Fill you head with good stuff. For example, many gurus don’t read newspapers since they are full of bad news. Avoid bad associates because you really do become more like them without even knowing it.
Make good environments and good actions habitual. Remember that habits are grooves that get deeper with every action, good or bad. It pays to make the good grooves deeper.
Look ahead what & where the garbage is in your life. Prepare your boundaries and escape routes ahead of time. Then, when garbage appears you can recognize it, know what to do and be ready to quickly escape. When you make a mistake analyze what and why it happened and make better plans to evade and escape it the next time.
Related Ideas: Stop bad actions … then think later. Bad Companions Ruin Good Character.
Practice Makes Perfect … top
Keep practicing these skills on up days as well as down days. Do not worry about the details. Do not worry about doing them right. Just do it. Just practice as best you can and things will naturally get clearer and better. Every person is different so experiment and see which skills quickly help you the most and develop them first to gain positive momentum.
This is the way towards becoming the conscious master of your thoughts, moods, aches & pains rather than their unconscious slave. This is a great way to start having more good days and fewer bad days.
Related ideas: The 5 second rule 54321Go. If you are not willing to do something poorly you will never learn to do it well. Perfect practice makes perfect.