Was the day really that bad?

Days spin out of control or go down the tubes pretty quickly if we let them.

Challenging situations, unexpected delays, or a few irritating moments, especially early in the day, can colour the day with challenge.

We often drag the feeling of challenges and irritations from one moment to the next, bracing for the next frustration. Jaws and shoulders tense, brows furrow, and patience grows short as we mentally stockpile the day’s irritations.

It used to feel like I was putting on armour for the next ‘thing’ to happen.

I carried each challenging situation and offending person with me throughout the day, and then took them home with me to share with my loved ones.

I had a habit of cherry-picking the negative stories from my day. Nice, hey? Quite honestly, I shopped my mind to find some gripe-worthy tidbit to share when I got home.

I wanted to share the love, and thought complaining was a great conversation starter. Really, Corinne?

This is where mindfulness came in. Awareness is curative.

I started to pay attention to how it felt in my mind and body when I was the recipient of others’ stories about every idiot on the road or what the guy at work did.

I could feel myself bracing for the onslaught of negativity simply by looking at another’s face and demeanour. It didn’t feel good as I let myself get pulled into the drama, experiencing the irritations from another’s life.

Heck, I didn’t even need to meet ‘that guy.’  I got to experience the effects of others’ ineptitude as a third-party. I could tense without leaving the house.

Gaining awareness into myself and my tendencies was fascinating.

As I paid attention to what was happening around me, I recognized I was not alone in my habit of reliving and reciting the negative. It’s a cultural tendency. We love to swap stories of the stupid and outrageous.

It’s interesting to notice what we tend to focus on and which stories we feed.

It was powerful to tell myself to get real. Was it really a bad day filled with challenge, or was it really a few minutes of irritation that I fed throughout the day?

What would it look like, and how would I feel, if I started to capture stories of the good stuff? Who on earth would be interested in hearing about the delights of my day?

It turns out most people are.

I had to change and uproot that old bias for negativity I was born with, and had practised so well.

I began keeping a mental list of all the good things that happened and the things that went well, and reporting on those when I arrived home.

My brain started to change and I found myself looking for, and paying attention to, all of the good in life. This is what I choose to feed and nurture.

I’m not pretending, or wearing rose-coloured glasses; I’m just choosing which events I’m going to give my greatest attention and energy to. Why on earth would I cause myself to suffer all day because of another’s actions or a challenging situation? How far do I want to carry them?

I notice when I slip and start to mentally compile a list of bad things. And then, I pause and ask myself an important question: “Did I really have a bad day, or did I have 10 or 20 minutes of challenge during the day?”

I’ve found there’s much more positive in life than negative. There’re more kind and intelligent people than challenging ones. Good stories are the conversation starter when I arrive home.

I’ve upped the ante. Now, I not only speak about all the good, I write the good things down in my gratitude journal. I can hardly wait to reflect on my day and record the wonderful things.

The crazy thing is, I was the one whose mind, body, and emotions suffered as I fed the negative stories. And, I’m the one who benefits from my change of focus.

It’s a simple practice, but it’s benefited my life greatly.

We all could use a little good news today.


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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