I breathed a deep sigh and considered why I was feeling so miserable. I was sat, at the cafe at my gym and had made the mistake of thinking that I would just do a little admin before my workout. My SingingNation team was unable to be with me and I felt excruciatingly lonely. I was holding the business together and feeling the weight of carrying it on my own. I feel the weight of it every day, but that day, particularly, seemed to be pretty burdensome and lonely.
I thought: “This is just a bad day, you have these every so often. All entrepreneurs do. You have highs and lows. The grass looks greener in the field of employment. You won’t feel like this next week when your team are in the room again. This is a moment. Don’t make big decisions and over-react. Do what you can. Take the weekend off and approach it all again on Monday.”
Sounds sensible right? And it was. Expect for one thing. It was not a bad day.
Our words matter. What I wanted to say was: “It’s just a bad day. There’ll be tomorrow. I’ll be fine.” This would, on one hand, seem like an honest and still optimistic answer. I challenged myself though, because even though I was feeling rotten and pretty miserable it was not actually a bad day. A bad day would be discovering one of us was seriously ill, where we had a life changing accident or lost our jobs. A bad day would be when we couldn’t afford to feed our kids and we were hungry. A bad day would be when something bad happened. Some of these things would, of course, warrant being called a terrible day, a tragic day, a disastrous day, even.
There wasn’t anything innately bad about my day. Nothing specifically bad happened. It just wasn’t an enjoyable day. So I could, rightly say, it wasn’t enjoyable. I was lonely and under pressure. That was truth.
Laziness of our vocabulary can lead us to say and believe things that aren’t true.
When someone asks how your day has been, do you give yourself more options than good or bad? We can all too often give a binary response to what is not a binary question. We may give the middle ground: ‘Okay’ but what does that mean?
Could we be more mindful and use other adjectives? The day I was describing was not enjoyable, but it was not bad either. It was useful for me to realise I need to re-evaluate some working procedures, but it was not bad. We need to be more accurate in our descriptions and more attentive to our language to give a true picture which is helpful to us. By recognising my day as lonely or boring I recognised the real problem. Once I recognised the problem, I could then go about fixing it.
A ‘bad day’ is a generic term which is unlikely to lead you down a path to a better day unless you understand what your bad day really was. Identify it and act.
Other answers to: “How has your day been?” could include:
Productive, enjoyable, fun, challenging, lonely, busy, full, reflective, boring, interesting, delightful, amusing, riveting, engaging, mundane, hectic, stimulating, overwhelming etc.
You may already be disciplined enough to use interesting adjectives to describe your day and if so, bear with those of us who are just catching on to the fact that good or bad simply doesn’t cover it all.
If I had verbalised: “I’ve had a bad day” that could have led to thoughts of ‘life is so hard’ which could lead to feelings of self-pity which would then lead to a disposition which is not great company.
Choosing to say that my day was less enjoyable than I’d have liked put it into perspective. And importantly led me to verbalise it was not, in fact, a bad day. I was safe, my family were safe. We were all finishing the day in good health, we had food to eat and we had each other.
What we say matters to those around us. It matters to us. Our brain hears what we are saying, whether positive or negative and will eventually believe it. It is imperative for the information we are telling our brains to be accurate.
Be specific and correct in your vocabulary. Embrace the subtle differences which give a clearer picture.
Life is full of nuance. Let’s be attentive to the shade and colour.