5 Ways to Turn Your Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day into a Better One


When was the last time you woke up in a mood that felt impossible to shake? Today? Yesterday? Last week? Yeeeeeeeeep. We’ve all had a bad day and it certainly doesn’t help to have someone else point it out. (Sorry!)

Recently, I was driving to work and found myself behind a woman who possessed all the qualities I cannot STAND about a driver. She took her sweet time turning corners and stopped in the middle of the road to let someone cross the street (even though it was not a crosswalk). So when I saw her turn her blinker on to get in line at Starbucks on Marshall and Snelling (my destination—shout out STP), I knew things between me and this lady were going to get heated.

To give some context, I live near the most poorly planned drive-thru I have ever seen in my life. Every day there is a police officer on-site directing traffic because it is so bad. But I “need” a venti Americano with an extra shot in order to live, so I endure it daily. I could tell by the amount of time it took her to turn her car into the line—and her confusion about where to put her car—that she was going to frustrate a line of very tired people.

At one point, I was waving my arms, pointing to where she was supposed to line up so other drivers could exit, telling her to pull forward so other cars could pass by and park. She ignored my waving and huffing and puffing. Fifteen minutes and the longest Starbucks order (naturally) later, I placed my obnoxious order and drove up to the window only to have the barista tell me that the woman I was verbally shooing and gasping about had bought my coffee. As I looked up to see her lock eyes with me, I waved politely and she gave me a genuine smile.

And MAN, did I feel AWFUL. As I should have. I was flaming mad about nothing of importance. I was mad about nothing I could control. Worse—I was trying to control things (AND PEOPLE!) I had no business controlling. I was in a rush and simply mad about living that day and it felt like I had been given a free pass to be terrible to a stranger. And she seemed to know it.

Her kindness evaporated my bad attitude in a second and I promptly paid for the person behind me, exiting with a proverbial tail between my legs.

To this day I think about this incident a lot, especially when I wake up with little patience for temper tantrums and the day-to-day slog of it all. Sometimes it feels like my inbox is shouting at me that the world is truly on fire. It’s not fun, but it’s part of riding the emotional wave of being human.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but as a sometimes hot-headed and impatient person, I thought I’d share a couple of tips for being a little more bearable when you’re just having a DAY.

1. Do something nice for a stranger. It is so easy to do and if all of us emulated what this lady did for me, I bet you there would be far fewer scowling faces in line at the ‘Bucks.

2. Give a co-worker a compliment, and really mean it. When you’re feeling bad about yourself, it is easy to let that energy simmer throughout the day. Have a pleasant exchange with someone you are working with is a great way to stop obsessing over your own problems by treating someone the way you wish were treating yourself.

3. Clear your schedule and make room for what you need. The other day, I left the office at 2:00 p.m. on a Thursday, booked a hotel in a neighboring small town, and had a cheeseburger and beer all to myself plus a night alone in bed. I gave myself some time to just ride that emotional wave instead of suppressing it as its intensity was getting stronger.

4. Talk it out on tape. I’ve started utilizing voice memos when I need to work through a problem. This was something I did when I was in therapy and hearing myself talk through my fears made them seem a lot smaller than how they sounded in my head.

5. Cuddle a puppy. Seriously. It works every time. And if you can’t find a willing fur baby or are allergic to animals, spend an hour watching whatever makes you laugh online. Just set a timer and make a deal with yourself that you won’t spend the whole day avoiding the world.

6. Surprise! If none of these things work and you still hate everything—spend all day looking at silly videos online and try again tomorrow.

Any tips to share with us? Embarrassing stories of being called out for being “that person”? Or are you that poor woman I was trying to rush in line at Starbucks? If so, I thank you for putting things in perspective with your kindness.

BY Kate Arends - August 22, 2018

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August 22, 2018 3:06 pm

When I’m in a situation where I’m frustrated at another person, I try to emphasize and try to see things from his/her perspective. Then, take a deep breath and move forward.

August 23, 2018 3:23 am

OMG, point 2 is so great! I’m quite skilled at letting the angst over the tiniest things settle on me especially at work but from now on I’m going to replace that angst with a positive comment to someone else. I know it works and if at the same time I can make that colleague’s day a tad better then it’s surely worth it for everyone 🙂

Teresa x

August 23, 2018 4:10 am

For me, pint 1 and point 3 are good ! I will try to apply to my life, and many thank for sharing

August 23, 2018 6:33 am

Thank you teresa!
I think your point 1 will really must follow one for everyone.

August 23, 2018 8:13 am

Point 1 is a winner, so easy to do and guaranteed to feel better afterwards. Another inspiring blog, thank you Kate!

August 23, 2018 10:02 am

I TOTALLY needed this post this week, so many down days lately. High five on #3 in this list – self care doesn’t have to mean fancy spa days or meditation apps (though nothing wrong with those hehe). Sometimes it is simply shutting off your brain and doing YOU. 🙂 Also for some reason I always find Office, Friends, and Parks & Rec reruns an endless source of joy.

August 23, 2018 12:22 pm

I know exactly what Starbucks you’re talking about and you’re so right – what a messy road situation that area is. Props to the traffic-directing officer who has to stand out there and make sure everyone gets their coffee fix in a neat and orderly fashion. 🙂

I tend to get this in these pissy moods when my depression’s been gnawing at me for a while and I get irritated when I can’t shake the slump. These are good reminders, to pay someone else the kindness I can’t seem to find the motivation to pay myself.

August 23, 2018 7:38 pm

Obsessed with this article, particularly the idea of voice memos to yourself. But honestly, can they just redesign that Starbucks already? I have a feeling you’re not the only one who has lost it trying to get your caffeine fix there. Ha!

August 24, 2018 10:12 am

I am such a huge fan of Wit and Delight for months now it’s posts seem to connect with me on so many levels especially the ones which are based on grooming oneself and issues of everyday life. I usually watch motivational videos on youtube and preacher messages (esp. Joel Osteen) really help changing my bad day into a good one. I used to let my anger, bitterness and frustrations take over my day, but with time i have learnt that carrying heavy and bitter thoughts is like carrying a garbage truck and often, we tend to empty it out… Read more »

August 25, 2018 2:00 pm

Definitely needed this read today. Thanks!

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