“I’m just having a bad day.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people mutter those words (or muttered them myself). Traffic is backed up, you spill your coffee before you even get a sip, the kids are driving you crazy, the kitchen tap is dripping, your boss is in a mood, and the car is making that funny noise again. I’m just having a bad day!
While there aren’t many days when all of those things happen at once (thankfully), you and I both know that any one of those challenges can test our temperament, pollute our perspective, or hijack our joy. Far too often, we write it off as a ‘bad day’ and give up until tomorrow. Tomorrow will be better, we hope, while subconsciously waving the white flag of surrender on today.
But the problem with ‘bad days’ is they tend to pile up - have you noticed that? A bad day becomes a bad week. A bad week becomes a bad month. And before you know it, a bad month becomes a bad year.
Many of us spend the last week of every December saying the exact same thing: “I can’t wait until this year is over!”
But I don’t believe for one moment that you have to go through life held hostage by your circumstances.
Sure, there are going to be tough days when things don’t go as planned. We all know what it’s like to deal with difficulties over the course of the day.
Sometimes it’s minor (the interview goes poorly, the baby is teething, you cut yourself shaving), and sometimes it’s major (you get laid-off from work, the doctor orders a CT scan, your marriage is in trouble). But whatever challenges each day brings, you don’t have to let those challenges determine your outlook on life. There are things you can do to make your day better!
1. Have a Conversation with God
Foundations are important. And trust me when I say: A conversation with God every morning is the very best foundation you can lay! As a matter of fact, I have discovered in my own life that the only way I can have a good day is if I take time to have a conversation with God before I begin trying to ‘do’ anything else.
2. Dream Big
I think one of the best things we can do in order to make every day better is to start dreaming again – dreaming about what the future can hold or dreaming about what new things we can accomplish with God’s help.
3. Decide to Help Others
When we are not having a great day ourselves, we rarely feel like helping someone else. Our tendency is to focus on ourselves. But that is actually the worst thing we can do, because it increases our misery instead of eliminating it.
4. Re-examine Your Expectations
The next time you are having a bad day, examine your expectations, and if you find they are not what they should be, you can quickly make an adjustment that will bring joy back into your life.
5. Don’t Give In to Dread
Dread is the precursor to fear. When dread creeps in, that’s when you can practice preventive maintenance. You can deal with the issue before it becomes full-blown fear or worry. You don’t have to let it drain your joy.
6. Learn Something New
You don’t have to stay stuck in the same routines, dealing with the same frustrations day in and day out. One of the easiest (and most enjoyable) things you can do to enjoy your life
is make the decision to start learning new, exciting, different things.
7. Refuse to Settle
It is entirely possible that you could make your day better by refusing mediocrity and making a decision to be excellent in all you do today and every day.
8. Invest in Yourself
Much like financial investing, the more you invest in yourself, the longer you invest in yourself, and the better you invest in yourself all determine what kind of return you are going to get on your investment.
9. Be Adventurous
If you view each day of your life as a big opportunity rather than a boring obligation, adventure comes alive! Keep in mind that you are on a journey with God, and what could be any more exciting and adventurous than that?
10. Do Something You Enjoy
I love keeping things practical, and it doesn’t get more practical than this: If you want to make every day better, don’t be complicated; just do something you enjoy! Go outside and take in the sunshine, go for a jog with a friend, have a cup of coffee and relax - have some fun and enjoy the life Jesus came to give you.
11. Say No to Worry
I’ve often said that worry is like a rocking chair - it’s always in motion but it never gets you anywhere. Worry is in direct contradiction to faith useless because it never makes anything better.
12. Slow Down
The busy, hectic pace of life is one of the major culprits that lessens our joy and decreases our peace. But the truth is that many times the blame lies with us. We’re the ones tied to our phones. We’re the ones pressing for more. We’re the ones texting, calling and emailing all at the same time. We’re the ones speeding from one appointment to another.
13. Finish a Project
It is possible that the reason you’re having a bad day is because when you got up this morning, what you saw was unfinished projects, and your thoughts were about goals that you never completed. That can be very discouraging to anyone, but there is an answer. We need to be determined to be ‘finishers’!
14. Forgive and Forget
If you’ve held a grudge or harboured resentment in your heart, I’m sure you can agree. It’s torture to have hateful thoughts toward another person rolling around inside your head. I can’t even imagine how many bad days I have had in my lifetime simply because I was angry with someone who hurt or offended me. I refuse to live like that anymore and you can, too. We can choose forgiveness and enjoy every day of our lives.
15. Be Grateful
The truth is that we’ve been blessed with so much, and yet we are often so ungrateful. We often concentrate on the things we don’t have, rather than the things we do have. But gratitude is born out of a heart of recognition - a heart that understands how much it has received.
Joyce Meyer is a best-selling author and one of the world’s leading practical Bible teachers.
This is edited extract from her new book 20 Ways to Make Every Day Better, published by Hodder & Stoughton.