when the week starts badly

One of my favourite children's books is by Judith Viorst. It's called Alexander and theTerrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day. I thought about it a lot yesterday; it was not a good start to the week, and today has not been much better. Some days are like that.

What do you do when a day goes bad on you? I announced it to the class I was teaching - and they actually shuddered. Then I smiled, and we all agreed my day was about to get better. And it did: the class went better than the rest of the day had. I started where I was (without sugar coating - in fact, without eating sugar which is occasionally a reasonable response to a bad day) and I engaged the support of a room full of young people who temporarily made me one of "us" instead of one of "them."

In the book, Alexander plans to move to Australia - or to send other people there. It's as far away as you can get. And that's a good strategy for dealing with bad days: to remove yourself as far away as you can get from what is making you miserable. You probably can't fly to Australia but you can move your mind to something entirely different, something outside yourself that is capable of holding your attention - or of scrambling it. Either will give you a break by breaking the pattern of your day.

Sometimes baby steps just don't cut it. If you're having a bad day, you need a surprise, a remarkable treat, even a once-a-year chore. Incremental change won't do it: you need big change. Take a giant step in a different direction. And wear your duck feet.


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