The other day I woke up and my coffee tasted watery. I dramatically spat it back out in my cup and resumed my attempt to read the newspaper through swollen, tired eyes. I had five minutes to spare before I went to work and “nothing” in my house to eat. In my mind the bitter thoughts were reeling, “I don’t want to go to work,” “Of course my coffee would be disgusting today of all days,” “people should get days off after they have a night full of nightmares” “My sock is already bunching up” “I have a hurting kind of pimple coming in at the corner of my chin”…
Because to me, negativity is like potato chips— I can’t just indulge in one negative thought and then cap it at that, my mind just continues to let them in.
What followed, as my readers might not be so shocked to hear, is that the day was pretty mediocre at best. I didn’t perform that well at work and my mind felt a little fuzzy and dull. I spent most of the day in my negative thoughts space in my head instead of enjoying my bike ride to work, or initiating a great conversation with my boss or reconnecting with old friends.
The tragedy is that I had so much to enjoy that day— it was sunny and beautiful in Brooklyn, my sister and I had the house to ourselves, my boyfriend was visiting later on in the week after having not seen him in a while, my mom was texting me trying to help me come up with creative ideas to explore and write about, I truly had it all.
And yet, I threw that day away because my mind wouldn’t shut up.
It’s so important to make an active effort to silence those pernicious thoughts. As much as it sometimes doesn’t feel this way, we all have the choice every morning to shape the day the way we want it to be. We craft the narrative inside our own heads. If I tell myself the day is going to suck, my coffee is disgusting, I’m the worst writer ever— all of that will come true. But if instead, I choose to be grateful for what I have today, everything will literally seem better.
Anytime I’m nervous for any new, daunting situation (like a job interview or the first day of school or a presentation), my sister tells me to picture the girl in the movie that totally has her shit together— the power-woman character who carries herself straight-backed like a plank and wears pencil skirts and can command a room— and just tell yourself you are her today. And this trick really does help me feel more positive about myself and thus, the potential outcome of the situation.
I know that sometimes we just can’t be a Sheryl Sandberg and some days the coffee really does just taste shitty but the more we can laugh about the negatives and put the positives on a pedestal, the happier we will be.