Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you’ve ever been to stand up taller than you ever were before. Sometimes your eyes need to be washed by your tears so you can see the possibilities in front of you with a clear vision again.
Last night I had a long conversation with my wise, 71-year-old dad about living and growing through adversity. One of the last things he said before we got off the phone resonated with me so much, I wrote it down:
“It’s been my experience that most people aren’t truly happy until they’ve had many reasons to be sad. I believe this is because it takes all of those bad days and hardships to teach us how to truly appreciate what we have. It builds our resilience.”
Honestly, I don’t think it gets any closer to the truth than that.
Not every day is good, but there is something good about every day. It takes a strong person to see the positive on down days. The key, I have learned, lies in letting go. It’s about realizing that, except for your own thoughts, there’s nothing that’s absolutely in your power. Knowing and accepting this gives you the ability to cope effectively with life’s constant stream of little tragedies – an aptitude we call resilience.
Ultimately, you can fight life, you can do nothing but complain about what you’re missing, or you can accept everything you have and put it together to create something worth smiling about.
So with this in mind, here are some good things to keep in mind when you’re having a bad day:
- The right attitude is the one thing you need right now. – What you focus on changes everything. Don’t look back when you know you shouldn’t. Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Don’t stress over unimportant things. Be positive. Seriously, the most underrated trait of all successful people I’ve ever met is positivity. Your attitude directly determines how well you live your life. You simply can’t live a positive life with a negative attitude. Don’t let mental blocks control you. Set yourself free. Confront your negativity and turn the mental blocks into building blocks.
- You can’t be truly happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes too. – If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. Feelings, good and bad, always come and go. The trick is to be grateful when your mood is high and graceful when it is low.
- You still have many blessings that you can make count. – Yes, always count your blessings, but don’t forget to make your blessings count too. There’s no good reason why you must settle for anything less than the very best life has to offer. Start now by sincerely appreciating the things you have and making the most of them. Happiness and success in life are not the byproducts of limitless resources. Happiness and success stem from stretching the limits of the available resources.
- You can learn something important from any situation, if you want to. – Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you. Take everything as a lesson learned. You are the books you read, the films you watch, the people you meet, the dreams you have, and the conversations you engage in. You are a combination of what you take from these. You are the sound of thunder, the breath of fresh air, the brightest light and the darkest corner. You embody every experience you have had in your life. You are every single day, even the bad ones. So drown yourself in a sea of knowledge. Let the experiences run through your veins, and let the lessons grow your mind.
- Your best bet is to take a chance on the present moment. – Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending. Be thankful to start from where you are now. Wishing for a different past will only waste your energy. If you’re feeling down right now, each second that passes is another moment to turn it all around. (Read The Untethered Soul.)
- You are not a victim. – You have an interesting life and it is magnificent, even during the toughest times. Keep this in mind, and live it accordingly. You are in control. Change your thoughts. As long as you think that the cause of your problem is “out there” somewhere else – as long as you think that someone or something else is responsible for your suffering – your situation is hopeless. It means that you are forever in the victim role, that you’re suffering even in paradise. Don’t do this to yourself. Be your hero, not your victim.
- You are not who you once were, but who you believe you can become. – You ultimately become what you believe yourself to be. If you keep on saying to yourself that you are incapable of doing a certain thing, it’s likely that you will end up becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if you have the belief that you can do it, despite your struggles and frustrations, you will likely acquire the capacity to do it, even if you can’t do it right now.
- You CAN move forward from here. – Even the darkest night will eventually end and the sun will rise. Remember this. If you take another step, and another, you’ll be surprised to know how far you can go from the point you thought was the end. So say this to yourself, and mean it with all your heart: “I just need you to never give up on me, no matter how hard things get.”
- The best way to move forward is one tiny step at a time. – You can’t lift 1,000 pounds all at once. But you can easily lift one pound 1,000 times. In repetition, your little actions have great power.
- What others think about your situation is not important right now. – If you really want to be happy again, then stop being afraid of being yourself, and stop thinking about what others think of you every second.
- In relationships, agreeing to disagree is sometimes the best solution. – Be selective in your battles. Sometimes peace is better than being right. You simply don’t need to attend every argument you are invited to.
- It’s OK to give yourself some space to breathe and regroup. – Sometimes a short break is the best step. Sometimes you need to pause so you can move forward – you need to turn away from something for a while so you can see why you fell in love in the first place. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Passion and Growth” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- There’s so much you can let go of in life, without losing a thing. – It’s called growth. Letting go of the old, makes way for the new. Letting go of what isn’t working, makes way for what will. So remember, when the pain of holding on is worse than the pain of letting go, it’s time to let go and grow.
- There’s no shame in starting over again, and changing things up. – When things aren’t adding up in your life, it’s time to start subtracting… the habits, routines, and circumstances that are holding you back. Sometimes you’ve got to create what you want to be a part of from the ground up – you’ve got to work harder than ever before to get more than you ever dreamed of. Be a dreamer. Be a doer. Know what is truly important to you and why. Then act on it with all your might.
- The struggle isn’t found on the path, it is the path… to greatness. – There will be big mistakes and heartbreaking surprises along the way. Learn from them, adapt and grow. If you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want a fit body, you also have to want the sweat, the sore muscles, the early mornings at the gym, and the low-fat meals. If you want a successful business, you have to also want the long days, the late nights, the risky business decisions and deals, and the possibility of failing fifty times to learn what you need to know to succeed.
- A little extra effort always pays off in the end. – Even when things aren’t going your way, don’t slack off. Never skimp on that extra effort, that additional few minutes, that soft word of praise or thanks, that delivery of the very best that you can do. It doesn’t matter what others think, it is of prime importance, however, what you think about yourself. You can never do your best, which should always be your trademark quality, if you are cutting corners and ducking responsibilities. You are special. Act like it. Never neglect the little things.
- Be a little kinder to yourself than you have to. – Yes, be extra kind to yourself today. Accept who you are, and revel in it. Treat yourself with love and respect. The better you feel about YOU, the more value you can create for your world. If you can’t do a lot for yourself right now, do a little. These small moments of joy will add up. They will keep you pointed in a positive direction. (Read The How of Happiness.)
- Because of today’s pain, you can feel the tenderness, beauty and freedom of healing. – Pain feels like a fast stab wound directly to the heart sometimes. But then healing feels like the wind against your face when you are spreading your wings and flying through the air. As humans, we may not have wings like a bird, but healing is the closest thing that will give us that soothing sensation of wind against our faces.
At some point, you will come to realize that living the good life involves some amount of necessary pain, and that there are more flavors of pain than ice cream and coffee combined…
There’s the little empty pain of leaving something behind ? graduating, taking the next step, walking out of a familiar, safe situation and into the excitement of the unknown. There’s the giant, whirling pain of life upsetting all of your big plans and expectations. There’s the little sharp pains of making a mistake, and the more obscure aches of success, when it doesn’t make you feel as good as you thought it would. There are the vicious, backstabbing pains of betrayal. The sweet little pains of finding others who are worthy of your time, giving them your love, and taking joy in their life as they grow and learn. There’s the steady pain of empathy that you shrug off so you can stand beside a wounded friend or lover and help them face their problems.
And on the best of days, there are the subtle, tingling pains you feel throughout your body when you realize that you’re standing in a moment of sweet perfection, an instant of great achievement, or happiness, or laughter, which at the same time cannot possibly last ? and yet will remain with you for the rest of your life.
Everyone is down on pain, and when we experience it we usually say we’re having a bad day, because we forget something important about what we’re going through: Pain is for the living – for those of us who still have the chance of a lifetime. Only the dead don’t feel it, because their time is already up.
The floor is yours…
What else would you add to the list? What’s something positive you try to keep in mind when you’re struggling or having a bad day? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights.
Photo by: RK Photos
Sean Mathers says
Great timing, because I had a bad day today and I really needed this encouragement.
Seriously, this article is packed with so much of what I needed to read today. I’m drowning in a couple realities that I’ve been afraid to face, and feel I’ve buried myself way too deep in denial. But there’s enough here to read over and over, as many times as needed, to assure myself that I can overcome them and make progress again.
That’s actually the thing I like most about your website and book – reliable, positive sources to reference when I lose my perspective. Thank you a bunch.
I’m a work in progress recovering from a devastating divorce in January. Your emails and articles have inspired me almost daily since then. Blessings on you for consistently working to make this blog both a pleasure to read and an ever-present reminder that life is worth living. I owe you a debt of gratitude which I cannot repay, but must ask that you continue to keep writing and sharing with us. (Also looking forward to your ‘Getting Back to Happy’ course which you sent an email about a few days ago.)
Signed up awhile ago for your emails. Each day I check my email and look to see if I’ve received a gift from you. When I do, I clear my mind, stop everything else and open my gift. That gift is the positive outlook you provide.
I read your words and look at my current emotional state. After I read your thoughts, and re-read them once more, I am ready to get started. I smile at people more and really try to focus more on other people. Very, very rewarding.
But I feel like I am taking advantage of your generosity by receiving your periodic gifts and giving you nothing in return. So, I am going to buy your book. Being candid, I don’t intend to read it right now. Instead, it is my way of saying thank you for the email gifts you send and my way of helping you gather the resources needed to continue sending my gifts forever.
I don’t have one specific life challenge your words help me with, I let your words wash over me and they give me a layer of protection from my own negative thoughts and the thoughts or actions of others. I will, however, share your book with friends and suggest they choose to receive their email gifts. I love mine. You always seem to know exactly what I wanted. Please continue.
Thanks again, this is very timely.
I had a terrible day on Sunday after a confrontation with my ex-best friend. It brought all my feelings back of being a victim and allowing his negative opinion to hurt me and make me feel as everything was my fault.
Afterwards I thought about all your posts and really started feeling better about myself and managed put everything in perspective and focus on all the good in my life.
Thanks for inspiring me and giving me strength
This is beautiful.. you guys are seriously mood lifters and encouragement builders… Loving every Article.. Gives me hope.. gives me strength.. opens up my mind and gives me the Zeal to live.. move on.. be happy and have a positive mind.
You have no idea.. how these articles are helping people.. leaps and bounds.. with every word written here.. its a new step for us to live and grow!!
Thank You so much!!
I just found your website and I am glad I did. I needed this today. All to often I find myself focusing on all the pain and sadness that has been in my life but when you said that we can’t be truly happy until we have experienced many reasons to be sad. That truly hit me hard. That was a powerful statement and I thank you for that. It really made me think about my life.
Dana Kristiansen says
I totally agree with what Don said in his reply. Your emails are a gift and I fully intend on getting your book as well. Thanks for always starting my day off with a gentle reminder that the day is full of possibilities if we are willing to fully embrace it whether good bad or indifferent! Thank you very much and much love and gratitude. 🙂
So inspiring. Glad I came across your site. Keep up the good work.
My mom sent me this article as she knows I have recently been struggling to be happy due to many unfortunate life events. Reading this helped me to realize how strong I am and that with a positive attitude such bad things can start to become tolerable and even go away. I will definitely apply this good advice in my life today, and every day. Thank you!
Dear Marc and Angel,
First off, thank you for you for your kind work that helps so many people just like me from mire of life. It’s also first time for me to write a reply to you, although I always read your words since 2011. My name is Leslie Qi, I was born in northwest of China and now I work in Xiaan where I will get a masters degree from university this summer. As a freshman, I always worried about my work, that need good English both with oral and written, but it’s my weakness. I sincerely want to improve my oral English, but it seems hard in China. what can I do? Any advice?
Thank you, thank you, thank you…
I am struggling at the moment, but as usual you have put everything into perspective. It is painful to let go, I live on my own and am retired, so it’s so easy to find myself dwelling on things beyond my control that I have not been able to change. I fought for what I wanted, it isn’t happening, I have to walk away.
Your article has reminded me to continue doing what I love doing, therein lies healing and re growth and positivity. Great timing as always 🙂
I have really found a friend in your emails, the encouraging words you give not to give up on life are just wonderful. Thank you, God bless you
Sylvia Metos says
As usual, your words are very inspiring to those of us who receive your email messages. Sure we all have bad days. The best thing for me to do is pick myself up, put a smile on my face, and move forward. Attitude is everything!
Nancy Biderman says
I truly enjoy your posts which I know help your readers/followers be stronger, more confident, self-accepting and happier. Indeed you are champions of the internal spirit and soul.
Yet, and with all respect, I always hope to see a comment/advice from you about kindness to others – either when someone is having a bad day (as today’s article refers to) or upon a small/great success or a wonderful surprise. Often people feel they don’t have the love, strength, resolve etc inside of them so they feel empty and depressed/withdrawn. As you say, kindness to oneself is definitely regenerative. It may just be me, and I’m just wired this way but if I’m feeling low I reach out to a friend, family, a client or others and give out a kindness. I don’t even have to think about it, internally it just happens – and the sweetness/happiness I’ve brought the other person(s) is 2 fold and is infectious. I feel their joy too. And when ‘we’ do that, ‘we’ know that we had the love, compassion, self-worth, and restorative nature inside ourselves all along. And this in itself immediately lifts us up. Whether it emanates from a sad moment or an extremely joyous one – kindness and giving to others, at least for me, is part of taking care of myself.
Perhaps this resonates with you but if not, I totally understand.
The post surfaced at the right time for me too – we often term ourselves as victims. Sometimes we do everything to keep or secure a relationship, but when nothing works we just break and feel hurt. It’s of the utmost importance to understand that everyone walks their own path and something that has to be, will be anyway. Trust, zeal and will plays an important role.
Thank you so much for this article! That helps a lot to reconsider how we should enjoy our life and be positive.
David Rapp says
@Leslie-Qi: there are wonderful resources on-line. I know that not all are accessible within China, but you may try You Tube and look up English courses available there. True English as a second language university courses already recorded.
I think that every 24 hours you get second chance. My bad bi-polar days are either very, very good or just the opposite. Some weeks I am a prisoner of my own runaway thoughts, roller coaster emotions, or lack of sleep. But every morning its STILL my choice as to what I can bring to the day.
Beth Ann Chiles says
Thank you for some great thoughts on this! I totally agree and think that you have made a great list. I think one thing that I try to do is focus on someone else when my day is less than wonderful. Shifting the focus from”poor me” and putting myself into action to help someone else usually flips the entire situation around. 🙂 Have a great day!
I’m familiar with #2, except I heard it as…
“You can’t appreciate the rainbow unless you’ve experienced the thunder and lightning.”
There is loads of truth to that… regardless of how you hear it.
Calms me while in thought over “what to do.”
Matthew Eaton says
Ah yes, the “sweet” trap of #6. I thought about that on my way to work today when i was letting my mind go crazy about other people who were responsible for certain things in my life.
I took the reigns today and decided it was time to get out of that loop, but it is very hard to do when you are stuck in your own head, as it were. I suppose this is why we reach out to others who think the same way, right?
Wonderful list and some amazingly motivational material here.
I truly love this article and also appreciate getting your emails. They remind me that we share a very human condition. I feel this one resonates with me the most because of the positive spin coming out of the negative. Instead of focusing on the negative this article point out the good that comes from it! I have clinical depression and find many ways to have a better day. This article is closest to how I persevere and work toward wellness/recovery. Thank you!
Hear, hear, to all who replied to this, yet another, great article. Especially Beth Ann Chiles. Getting out of my own head and focusing on helping others always does the trick when I’m feeling down on myself or overthinking things. Thank you Marc and Angel for your thoughtful, incredibly helpful articles. Gifts indeed!
Gai Nguyen says
Number 5 is so acceptable. Past is past, whether it’s glorious or gloomy, what can be done about it. Future is too vague, too far off to reach. Focus on present, in everything you do, every step you walk, every word you say, which is what Buddhism calls in English mindfulness.
Marc, most of the time you cover a list pretty accurate. It is the comments from your followers that are also so important. It is so good to hear that others feel the same way about a list, be it 6 little things, or 18, or 27.
It is very comforting to be a part of this community and feel that I belong. Knowing that others feel some of the same things I feel, or even if they have a different opinion. I may not be explaining this with the words I want, but it is all good.
Thank you all, for every word typed and said.
Thank you. When going through your articles, it really makes me to understand my own strength and also gain confidents in life which I last for a while…….
These are great reminders! Thank you so much!
Raziuddin Shaikh says
I have really no words to describe my feelings after reading this article of yours, so wonderful and inspiring – one attains freedom from all difficulties & struggles upon reading this. Truly, you are my one of the greatest teachers. THANK YOU.
Terrence J. White says
I love that we have a chance to start or end our day on the note that we choose. I have come to learn that the day is full of a balance of our thoughts. The things we thing become the actions we take. I have shared this with several of those who enjoy my books: today is an opportunity for you to take a small step in to a big directions. so too is every morning an opportunity to take a step in to an emotional place because there will always be negative and trials, its how we view those that determine our joy. http://www.terrencejwhite.com
Sebastian Aiden Daniels says
All of them are so true : D. It is true that we can’t be happy without feeling unhappy at times. One needs the other just as without crime there would not be cops.
9 and 10 are so important. All you can do is take tiny steps in achieving your goals. You can have big goals but they need to be broken down into small goals. It is also important to ignore what others think of your situation or what you’re trying to achieve. There will always be naysayers! Ignore them!
Thank you for the beautiful words. I was really in need of a strong boost and I got through yours words.
Life is inscrutable, you never know what comes next, but staying positive always keeps oneself happy and energetic.
What I personally experienced is that sometimes you will be really drown in negativity however positive you are, and this is the greatest challenge for every one to come out of it.
Captain Kirk says
To Our Community…
Your comments are humbling, inspiring, meaningful, motivating….and from the heart. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences, feelings, emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and hidden wisdom.
The common denominator in the human experience is that we all experience blood, sweat, and tears in our lifelong journey. We share the “roller coaster”‘ ride of life……the exhilarating highs…..and the terrifying lows. As we continue on this amusement ride…we must give ourselves permission to rejoice….and scream….when necessary!
In our relationships, there are times we will rejoice…and times when we want to scream…The joy centers on a mutual love and respect for each other. The screaming serves as an “clearing experience” when we feel like a victim (#6). Again, this is a common ground for most of us in life. However, there is a solution to feeling like a victim.
Instead of accepting – and becoming – a VICTIM – reclaim your life as a VICTOR! Recapture and champion yourself…..and celebrate your VICTORY!
Look inside yourself and find the dreams, goals, and desires, that have the strength to push you forward. >>>>>>>>>>
Your conversation with your dad reminded me of an inspiring – and humbling – truth.
“The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre
My vision is becoming clearer every day.
Thank you so much for sharing these! 🙂
Boy, #11… in my family. Whooheeeee!
We have to read articles like this one in order to remind us that there is more to life than just having a bad day. sometimes we have to go through a little hurting inside for us to learn the value of life. Thanks for always sharing a great post.
Daisy @ Fit Wanderlust Runner says
Can I just tell you thank you for posting this! I am going through some tough stuff and I needed to read each and every one of these sayings.
Marc Chernoff says
Thank you, as always, everyone. 🙂
I know Angel and I tell you this often, but we are so grateful to have you in our lives. The positive thoughts and ideas you share with us, inspire us to no end.
Noel Rosos says
This post is just awesome! Each and every item struck me hard because I used to have a victim mentality and when setbacks pile up one after another, I found it hard to recover and my whole day is already ruined. These are really helpful tips I will always look back to every time I experience a bad day!
Thank you for sharing this I loved it.
Rose Costas says
Thank you so very much for this post. It is as if you were writing it specially for me. Many times in life we forget how much we have and need to be grateful for. We see the pain and the lack and become very sad not taking the time to see how much good we have in our lives and need to be happy about.
We often forget that we all have to go through some difficult times and many times we have no control over what happens to us. There are circumstances we cannot change but even so we need to change our attitudes regarding how we perceive things.
Attitudes is a choice and our situation at the moment should never cause us to change our attitude.
I love the how you include the fact that we need to show ourselves love in difficult times. Too often we give up on us because life get tough. Loving ones self through difficult times will in fact preserve us for the good times.
Thanks again for the wonderful post.
Thank you so much Marc and Angel… another great article and so true. When I finally figured all this out in my life …. it turned me around and started a new direction in my life. I faced the challenges and decided that “I” wanted things to be different. I had to take total responsibility for my life and not blame anyone else. I could only change me …my thoughts and actions. I went from being victimized by my problems to seeing them as blessings that could change my life. This mindset helped me to get thru cancer, losing my business and all the relationship issues I had….and be grateful for it all, because it taught me what I really wanted and what was really important in my life. I lived thru it all to find a much saner and happier life… the infinite love of my husband (40 years),the joy of my first grandchild, the challenges of retirement, the freedom to do what I really love. I’m still kind of stuck on moving forward with this-but I continue to work on it with help from Marc and Angel, comments from all of you in this community and many other sources.
I really liked Nancy’s comment about kindness to others, which reminded me also about something I do about problems I have with challenging people, I pray for them, especially the ones I almost hate. It’s hard sometimes, but it really helps.
Another thing I learned was that you have to let your children have adversity in their lives to really learn how to live life. I tried to protect them from everything and give them the perfect childhood that I never had, but then they ended up having adversity of their own making to learn these facts of life anyway. I try to remember to take life one day at a time, one step at a time and that ” This too shall pass”. Nothing stays the same forever… good or bad, and that’s OK.
Thanks again to Mark and Angel and all the people in our “community” for all your thoughts and ideas… I love and pray for you all.
What a great community, with our great teachers; Angel & Marc. Your book is like a bible to me. Thanks for everything. Thanks all for your wonderful comments & stories. We’re all in it.
For the past few months i have been reading your posts because i’ve had to deal with a toxic person in my life that was hard to get rid of, mostly because i wasn’t ready to get rid of him yet. Come to find out he is nothing but a liar, in which we had a falling out and i finally once and for all ended things with him, but now im left feeling sad, alone and like it was all my fault. Coming to your website and reading your posts makes me realize it may not happen today but one day i’ll be okay. These posts are inspiring and give me hope that i made the right decision, and it’s okay to be happy and move on from things that don’t bring me happiness. I guess it’s one of those things where you have to take the good with the bad. Can’t wait to read more!
David Fenwick says
Have a good day! Because what’s the point in having a bad one?