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Bad Day?
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I had slept poorly because my nose had started running like a faucet. Either allergies or the start of a cold—I did not know which. And I slept through the alarm and that caused me to get up late. After I was in the shower, I discovered the shampoo bottle was empty, and I had to go dripping through the bathroom to fetch more. Then, I burned my toast at breakfast.
Next I discovered that my MP3 player (on which I load the audiobooks I listen to during my 45 minute commute) had misbehaved and lost my place in the book to which I was listening.

I missed my exit, and had to take the next one. The detour added miles and minutes to my commute. So I arrived at work late. Where, on top of all that, I found an e-mail from my boss telling me he was sick, and asking me to run an early-morning meeting he normally led.

Was I having a bad day?

Well, no.

I know what a bad day really is. I have experienced several.
  • A bad day is lying on a stretcher in an ambulance, covered in your own blood.
  • A bad day is working on the Shuttle program just after having watched Challenger disintegrate, realizing that at least seven people have just had a day even worse than yours.
  • A bad day is waking up at 1:30 a.m. to take a telephone call that informs you a son was in a car accident and is in the hospital.
Petty Annoyances

What I experienced that morning were petty annoyances. Despite all of them, I arrived at work a only a few minutes late, and spent a few extra pennies on tolls and gasoline. Against that, I arrived at a well-paying job, arrived safely, and was thought of well enough to be asked to run an important meeting. Yet I know colleagues, friends, and relatives that would have thought they were having a bad day if what had happened to me that morning had happened to them. I bet you know some, too.

What happens when someone lets petty annoyances affect their day? At a minimum, you turn what could have been a good day into a bad day. But a negative attitude also adversely affects your health. The anger and anxiety that accompanies a bad attitude raises blood pressure. It flushes hormones into your system that speeds up your body, and increases alertness and tension.  

That is because these emotions trigger a fight or flight reaction—your body feels that you are under attack, and reacts accordingly. The problem is that this reaction soon fatigues you. You start feeling tired, depressed, and just “off”—like you are coming down with a cold.  

Do not let your bad-day-feelings become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Keep things in perspective. Taking the long view reduces stress—and ultimately lets you last longer and happier, too.

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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