While we can’t prepare for everything and prevent bad times, we can turn them into better bad times with a bit of work and mindset shift.
We can’t plan for everything, but we can prepare for many things. Dare I say most things? If you consider the things you fear, most of them haven’t happened. Yet while we worry ourselves fearing these bad things that will likely never happen, other less bad things happen.
These are things probably things we could have prevented if we hadn’t spent all our time and energy worrying about those things that didn’t happen. We’re not unicorns and hippogriffs here, and we can’t prevent rough times. However, we can at least have better bad times using a little diligence.
I realize that this initially seems negative. Perhaps it sounds like a give-up. It’s reality, though. Happiness doesn’t mean all times are pleasant. Happiness is more attainable when you learn to put bad times in perspective and handle them well. Bad times increase happiness in the long run.
It’s not black and white, and things aren’t simply good or bad.
Most things are somewhere in the middle, and they’re things you don’t even notice. Way out there on the edges, you’ve got wonderful and horrible. Reel it in a bit, and you’ve got great and awful, then good and bad, then all the middle.
Wonderful – Great – Good – Most things – Bad – Awful – Horrible
There’s probably the glorious and horrific or godawful out on the edges, but don’t you tend to focus your worries on the awful and the horrible?
My point is that there is a spectrum, and while you can’t control everything–you can’t control most things that pop up all along the spectrum, you can focus on two areas.
You can work to create more things in that good to great area of the spectrum.
You can work to move all the things towards the good end.
I’m talking about…
Better Bad Times
At first glance, it sounds like a cop-out or give-up. Think of lawn care, though. You don’t have to go all Bob Vela on your lawn. You simply need to mow, water, and fertilize.
Remember, weeds are sneaky.
Don’t Suffer Obvious Stuff
Let’s not neglect the good by worrying about the bad.
First, stress keeps up alive. We evolved (or were created or were created to evolve) to stress when danger found us. Stress gives us extra energy when we need it. Just like Scotty in the engine room, it diverts power from phasers to thrusters when we need it.
Uncontrolled stress is unhealthy. Listen to Scotty. If you keep going at this rate, “the engines gonna blow!” It does terrible things to our bodies. But what if we take those stressful times and make them better bad times?
Please don’t do what I did. I waited until my job stressed me, and I felt like life was moving towards the horrible side. After weeks, I finally tried some meditation. I started working on this blog and a couple of books. I learned to manage the stress. I eventually realized the job isn’t horrible. It’s good. It just didn’t fit me.
Start a meditation practice now. If life is good, meditation will push it towards great. If life is bad, meditation will move it towards good. See The Reals above. There will be bad times, but meditation will make them better bad times.
I learned it wasn’t the job causing me stress but my resistance to the changes. Now, I still don’t jive with the changes at work, but they don’t stress me out. As much. I realized it wasn’t good or bad. Instead, I just thought it into bad.
“The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.”
– Sharon Salzberg
What if we went for a walk or a run or made a budget? Although a form of stress itself, exercise is better than uncontrolled stress. Maybe we’ll see something on our walk or run that will distract us from thinking about all those horrible things that will probably never happen?
Try this. Just sit on the sidewalk and watch insects crawling around.
I think that qualifies as mindfulness, and I think it also qualifies as exposure therapy if you fear insects.
I bet there are insects near your stressful job too.
Budgeting sounds like it’s not fun. It also sounds stressful, but I’ve done it, and believe me, telling money where to go is a lot less stressful than trying to figure out where it went.
Having an emergency savings account is a lot better than having no idea how you’re going to pay for one of those bad things. Having some savings can make an awful thing seem like a bad thing or make a bad thing seem like just a thing.
A little money in a savings account can make a bad time a better bad time.
And how many of us worry about our health? About getting cancer, diabetes, or those attacking hearts?
I’ve always wondered why it’s called a heart attack. I always imagined that it was the heart attacking the person, but I think they’re probably saying that it is the heart that is being attacked.
They don’t call a sinus infection or pneumonia a Lung Attack. It’s liver disease, not Liver Attack!
Ok. That was disgusting.
So stop attacking your heart by stressing that you’re going to have a heart attack.
Let’s stop stressing our hearts by worrying that we’re going to have a heart attack.
So try the aforementioned walking. Eat a little more healthy food instead of–or at least before–the junk food.
And please, please cut, or cut back on the sodas. I know they taste and feel wonderful, but they are horrible for us.
Let’s stop attacking our hearts with junk food!
I think this is the first time I’ve ever mentioned parenting.
You know the joke about how kids don’t come with a manual. It is true. They don’t come with manuals. The hospital gives us some advice and a flyer on preventing the godawful in the next few days, but nothing about the bad and horrible over the next 25 years…
That’s what I used to think.
Somebody wrote manuals on parenting. If you have kids or plan to have kids, you want to go get this manual. For positive parenting solutions and educational resources, go to loveandlogic.com.
I don’t want to turn this into a parenting blog, other than suggesting Love and Logic.
Libraries have many Love and Logic books you can borrow for free.
You can also purchase your very own copy of one of their books right here!
You’re starting to sound like an advert.
All it takes is a few practices to avoid suffering the obvious stuff. It’s funny, the obvious stuff doesn’t seem obvious until after we’re suffering it.
That’s why I’m here. I’ve suffered the obvious, so you don’t have to!
Yes, I realize that we can’t control much and that bad things will still happen.
I’m suggesting practices that can make the bad things less bad, or at least make them seem less bad. Better bad times.
I’m also suggesting that with some work and a little resolve, you can prevent some bad things and generate more good things or at least make them better bad things.
Question: What are some bad things you made better with a mindset shift?
- Comfort and pleasure don’t bring long-term happiness. Building resilience and gratitude do. Here is how bad times increase happiness in the long run.
- Bad habits or neglect can sneak up on us and quickly grow out of control without constant vigilance. Like bad habits and neglect, weeds are sneaky.
- Our days are full of stress triggers, so sneak in mindfulness triggers to help you practice calmness. Here are 5 sneaky mindfulness triggers for surviving the day.
(TRANSPARENCY ALERT: That link to Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting From Birth to Six Years on Amazon are totally Affiliate links! Yes, I will earn a small commission if you purchase from Amazon from those links and any purchase you make using links to Amazon from my site. )
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