This mindfulness business can be a real bitch.
I try to start every day with a positive attitude and set a happy tone for the day. I have a morning mantra, I meditate, do yoga, and try to put as much light into the universe as I can. And most days, it’s great! Works like a charm! I feel healthy and happy and positive and light and free and full of good mojo and all of those other annoyingly-upbeat things. But some days just SUCK. Such is the nature of life.
But strangely I feel like I have a responsibility — being the mindful person that I am — to be happy. All the time. Even on the sucky days. I posses the tools to turn bad days into good days. I know what I need to do to redirect that negative energy and raise the vibration in my body. I’m realizing, however, that I’m actually allowed to feel like shit sometimes. Even as a spirit junkie.
So here’s how my day started: 6am, I hear choking, gagging sounds & before I can even roll over to turn on the light I’ve realized my dog Abby has thrown up all over the bed. But before I got angry I caught myself. Breathe. It was an accident. Clean it up & put the bedspread in the wash. It’s fine. Breathe. Don’t let this set the tone for the day. You’re better than this. Ahhh… there it is. I’m good. Come on dogs, let’s go have breakfast. Maybe it was a good thing that I woke up an hour before my alarm went off. It gives me more time to chill and have a cup of tea before I have to get ready for work. See? Silver lining! Everything happens for a reason! Look at me combatting negativity right out the gate!
Morning meeting is dragging on and on (and on…), but I’m still cheerful! Very conscious of being that beacon of light to the universe and all that jazz. Then I decide to check email. And realize that students are losing their shit because something in “the system” has screwed up and messed up all of their classes and they might not actually be graduating now and what am I going to do oh my God my mom is going to kill me. I frantically start emailing them back. Emailing the department chair, the staff, other faculty. And still the meeting drones on. And I can feel my anxiety level rising with each new freak-out email. I finally figure out what’s happened in “the system” & suddenly see the thousands of course substitutions I’m going to have to process for our 1,500+ students dancing in front of my eyes. The meeting wraps up, I frantically grab my stuff & hightail it out of there to head back to my building. Rushing, rushing, rushing. It’s sunny, I hear students laughing, birds chirping, and I stop dead in my tracks. Breathe. In the grand scheme of things, none of this matters. I can help these students, I just need to take it one at a time. Breathe. Walk calmly back to my office. Breathe.
Look at me rising above it all! My glass is half full. Nothing can get me down. I have a responsibility to myself to maintain my happy mojo! I get back to my office, sit down to start helping these students (which is so great because it fits right into my “how can I be of service today?” mantra) aaaaaand realize the software system isn’t working. And the emails keep pouring in. My admin is at my door, I can’t find my department chair, and I’m getting snarky emails from the people who caused all of this nonsense in the first place. Rise above it, I say! You’re a spiritual person, so act like it. Brush it off! You’re supposed to be the zen, high vibe-y one in this office! You have a responsibility to maintain your cool. Breathe through it. Calm yourself. It’s almost time to go teach, anyway. This will all work itself out. Whew! Made it through another challenge to my mindful approach to life. Go me!
Then I suddenly remember that I never looked at which classroom I was assigned. So I check. And realize my classroom is in a building that literally could not be any further away from mine. Shit. I’d better leave now or I’ll never make it in time! And as I take a step outside to rush across campus, the sky opens up. Thunder, wind, rain blowing sideways. COME ON. Fifteen minutes later I arrive at my classroom, soaked, looking ridiculous, with water in my high heels. Trying not to be angry, trying not to get stuck in the “today sucks” mentality. Breathe. Give yourself a few minutes to chill. This is your favorite class to teach! These students deserve your best! Snap out of your funk! And voila! I conquered yet another attempt to undermine my ever-present positivity. I win!
By the time I leave class, the sun is out, there’s a slight breeze, and blue sky. See?! I just needed to stay on the sunny side of life and force myself into a good mood! This is my reward! La di da! I take my time strolling back to my car, looking forward to getting home early, taking a nap, and then cleaning up the house. As I drove home I was so proud of myself for overcoming all of the negativity I encountered today.
And then I got home.
Remember Abby from this morning? The one who threw up on the bed? She has destroyed my house. Again. She has pulled all kinds of things off of shelves, knocked over a plant, ate another book (this is not new behavior), and gotten into a bag of my cross stitch and eaten the wooden ring, chewed on a rainbow of floss, potentially swallowed some needles (I have since realized she did not. Thank God.), and eaten a hole through the middle of a pattern that my grandmother had begun working on before she died & I was trying to finish. She ruined it. And I LOST. MY. SHIT. Mindfulness shmindfulness. I went full-on Hulk.
Yelling, screaming, crying, slamming doors, angry as hell, exasperated, exhausted, and out of control. For about five minutes. Then my phone rings & my sister’s voice on the other end says something that makes me pause: “You’re allowed to have a shitty day. It’s okay.” It suddenly dawned on me that part of my crazy outburst was me being mad at myself for not being able to maintain my cool. I had a responsibility to stay calm, didn’t I? I’m constantly sharing with other people how important it is to be present & positive, and I can’t practice what I preach? What’s wrong with me??!
Nothing. Nothing is wrong with me. I am human. I had a shit day. It happens. But here’s the thing: I fully realize that this one bad day doesn’t mean I have a bad life. It doesn’t mean that tomorrow will also suck. It doesn’t even mean that an hour from now things won’t turn around. Newsflash: Not every day will be awesome. Being spiritual, mindful, and meditative doesn’t somehow block you from having “one of those days” every once in a while. It’s not magic. It’s okay to feel that frustration, anger, and futility. Own it. For a little while. Then… let it go.
This series of unfortunate events tested my patience today, but none of these things has to impact tomorrow. I spent all day trying (and mostly succeeding) to redirect my attitude. But a girl can take just so much before all of it boils over. And that’s okay. Because this is where the mindfulness training can serve you. Be conscious of how you got derailed from your Spirit Junkie mentality. Understand your limits. But just because you lost your shit today doesn’t mean someone is going to come take your Mindfulness Card away. You haven’t suddenly given up your spirituality. And you DIDN’T FAIL yourself by expressing these emotions. You are only human. But you should still do what you can to stay in alignment. It’s not that we’re not allowed to have a bad day (that would be way too Stepford Wives for me), it’s what do we DO with it once we witness it. So along those lines, Gabby suggests 3 ways you can turn a bad day into a good one:
- Be pissed! Rant! Get into it! Acknowledge what is bothering you. Put it on the table. Write it in your journal. Call a friend and bitch. We have to honor what we’re experiencing, otherwise we’ll move over it instead of moving through it. Get it out. But get it out with the intention of turning it around. So rant for a period of time & then say to yourself, “I’m ready to change my mind. I’m ready to let it go.”
- “Pick a card.” Gabby has a “Miracles Now” deck of cards full of affirmations (and you can also get it as an app — I use mine every day!), so she suggests picking one as step two. But this also works if you pick up a book and randomly turn to a page. Or hop on Facebook and check out the Power of Positivity page. The universe has a way of getting messages to you. Pay attention to them. And then reorganize.
- Dish out a compliment. Thank someone who helped you today. Be kind to someone. Do something nice for someone else. Be sincere! Focus your energy on gratitude instead of pissiness. It gets you out of your own shit & makes you genuinely feel good. It’s a great tool for cleaning up your own mental or emotional mess.
Stupid shit gets us down sometimes. Today, for me, it was a series of stupid, shitty things. None of which will impact the universe in any kind of meaningful way. But I think also for me the lesson was this: don’t let that holier-than-thou attitude creep in when you are able to swat away the negative and embrace the positive. The “I’m the most centered person in this office” bullshit. It’s not a competition! No one is the “best” at being mindful. Just because I didn’t let myself freak out when the students did doesn’t mean I’m somehow better than other people who lived in their stress today. Pride goeth before the fall & all that.
It’s okay to lose your shit. It’s okay if today sucks. Swim in it for a while. And then paddle to the shore & start over.