Today I stopped by my local dollar store to pick up a few items. As I pulled the cart up to the checkout line, I greeted the cashier as I always do, by asking him how he is and then wishing him a good rest of the day.
His response is always the same: “I’ll have a good day in three hours,” meaning when he ends his shift. I counter with,” Can you find something to like about being at your job?” Again, he replies, “Yeh, when I get to leave.”
Keep in mind, that this man is not grumpy or inappropriate with customers. He has a generally friendly demeanor. There is just something that prevents him from expressing anything positive about his job. I didn’t want to persist, but it got me to wondering what is happening in his life that he has a job that he can’t wait to leave.
An additional question pans across my mental movie screen: do I have any right to attempt to jolly him out of his view?
As a practitioner of positive psychology and one who can see the bright side of nearly any situation, it puzzles me that he isn’t willing or able to even be grateful that he has a job, albeit, not a particularly glamorous one. There have been times when I have held highly stressful positions that haven’t paid as well as my efforts or experience was worth, and I came to the understanding that I didn’t need to hate my job to leave it. I found reasons to love aspects of work, even in the midst of seeking and eventually finding other jobs.
You have heard the saying, I’m sure, “Mama told me there’d be days like this.” In most cases, it means that things feel dark and cloudy, and yet it is indeed possible that the majority of the time, life really is working in your favor. Think about everything that has gone right today.
- You got out of bed.
- You had a bed in a home to get out of.
- You have a computer or phone on which to read this article.
- You may have an animal companion who needs your love and care and who returns it multi-fold.
- You may have loving family and friends.
- You may have a job that pays the bills and ideally is enjoyable.
- You may have discovered your passion and purpose and are living it.
- You may have dreams and visions that entice you.
- You may have a devoted partner oe be happily single.
- You may have overcome major physical or emotional challenges with flying colors.
- You may be in recovery from addiction.
- You may drive a car that gets you from here to there.
- You may be listening to music as you are reading these words.
- Your senses may be fully functioning.
- You may have graduated from high school or college.
- You may have raised wonderful children.
- You may be engaged in a fitness routine that keeps you strong and flexible.
- You may be an active volunteer in your community.
- You may have traveled to wonderful places.
Not My Day?
I recall a conversation several years ago that was initiated when someone sighed and said, “It’s just not my day.” I smiled and asked her, “Well, I want to know whose day it is and who is having your day?” What followed was one of those cartoon character head shakes as she did a mental reset.
Peter J. Bentley, PhD who wrote the book, Why Sh*t Happens: The Science of a Really Bad Day, offers his insights about why we focus on ‘bad days,’ rather than ‘good days.’ “The days that most of us remember are the ones when something annoying or frustrating happened. We’ll remember the time we drove off in the car with our bag on the roof, but forget the hundreds of times we drove off with the bag in the car. We’ll remember the time our mp3 player went through the washing machine, but forget all the other occasions we used it to play music. So a sh*t day is immediately relevant and memorable to everyone.”
He finds that self-fulfilling prophecies are part of the mechanism of the predictability of a day not worth writing home about. The first thought that crosses our mind when our eyes open can set the stage for the day that unfolds. If you had plans predicated on the weather being a certain way; sunny if you wanted a day on the beach or snowy if you desired a day on the ski slopes, and Mother Nature just wasn’t in sync with your wishes, you might decide that this fell into the ‘bad day’ category. On the flip side, if everything you desired fell into place, including, weather, timing, traffic and company…all systems go, you will most likely feel good about the outcome. What if you could find something to appreciate in any eventuality? Sound unreasonable?
Those with learned resilience give themselves more freedom to enjoy whatever hand they are dealt. According to the American Psychological Association (APA):
“Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress— such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stress. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.
Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. People commonly demonstrate resilience. One example is the response of many Americans to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and individuals’ efforts to rebuild their lives.
Being resilient does not mean that a person doesn’t experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common in people who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives. In fact, the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress.
Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.
Consider your own tendencies. Do you see the glass as half full or half empty? This Opti-Mystic who sees the world through the eyes of possibility perceives it as ‘all full,’ since if it is only half-filled with liquid, the other portion is filled with air.
Since we have a choice of what to create from the raw material of each 24-hour period, it would be to our benefit to heed the wise words of my longtime mentor, Yvonne Kaye, “Have any kind of day you like.”