Welcome to A Little Life Saving, the part of the show where Larry Sings a Silly Song. (Kidding.) I'm excited to introduce this series to chat about habits that are doing a little life saving for me. I love good habits, routines, and rhythms, and I know that small habits are sometimes the ones that give us the most life. They may not work for everyone, but I only share them if they're really working for me. Today's habit? Starting the day over.
On Monday mornings, I wake up earlier than normal for our work devotional meetings, and on this particular Monday morning, I was running a bit behind schedule. I had gotten sucked into my email, lost track of time, and didn't have a coffee for the meeting. I quickly ran out of my office, poured my coffee, and went to put some creamer in. As I vigorously shook the coffee creamer, I thought, "Yeah, if I shake it harder, it'll be ready for me faster!" and suddenly, there was coffee creamer all over me, the kitchen cupboard, and the floor.
I knew there were people waiting to start the meeting, so I hastily cleaned up and harboured a low level resentment toward my coffee as I sipped it.
I could feel a bad mood - and a bad day - brewing. That coffee creamer spill is a metaphor for my day, I thought. Maybe even for my life! What horrors await me today? I need to stop running late in the mornings. Ugh.
Then, as the clock neared 8:30, I told myself, Nah. This doesn't decide today. So, I declared to my co-workers that I was starting the day over at 8:30, and anyone who wanted to could join me. I had 5, maybe 10 more minutes to obsess over that one minute creamer fiasco, and then I had to be done with it for the day.
At 8:30, I took a deep breath, I stood up, I grabbed a glass of water, and I started another Monday - and that one went so perfectly normal, I really don't remember much about it.
This is a relatively new, but very much so life-saving habit for me. It doesn't mean I go upstairs, get into my bed, and literally start my day over (an option, as I work from home, but not something worth the time and effort).
Compartmentalizing well might be a characteristic of an Enneagram 3, but I wasn't always great at that. In fact, this life-saving habit was given to me in a different form, almost nine years ago in therapy. I was struggling with how not to feel all my heavy teenager feelings to the point that it affected my life + how to not push people away from me + how to not just withdraw deeply into myself.
My therapist said, "You can talk about your feelings, but then make sure you do something fun afterwards - like going bowling."
In some ways, declaring a new start to my day feels like that - until whatever time I deem it a new day, I'm allowed to dwell on the not nice thing that happened. I try, as much as possible, to feel through it fully. Why am I upset about this? Do I need to cry about it? Do I need to vent to someone? Do I need to write about it?
But then, I get to start fresh mentally. I never let myself forget what happened, but I do try to manage my feelings about it, or adopt a better perspective on what happened, or quickly jot down a few things that have gone right in the day, if I feel myself slipping into the "terrible everything sucks" category.
It's not something I need to do every day, and I'm grateful for that. Some days, I totally forget about this, and I spend all day in a "terrible day" pit. Some days are just write offs, and some days are so good, I wouldn't want to start over. This also isn't a strategy that will work for everyone. But right now, declaring, "IT'S A NEW DAY" is a small + mighty habit that's changing my life.
Today: I had a great morning. My morning routine went off perfectly. I drank water + coffee, was feeling on fire from a great work out, and had a great action plan for today's work day, as well as a witty anecdote to share with a co-worker. And then, my morning got totally de-railed, I couldn't figure something out, I was upset at myself for not triple-checking something, and was quickly catapulting myself into a terrible mood and a bad day.
You should've checked. That was a waste. You can't figure this out? Come on, Hannah. You're being so dumb. Good luck getting anything done today if you can't even do this correctly.
And then, I thought, nah. This doesn't decide my day. So, I declared to my co-worker at 10:30 am, I was starting a new day. I had 10 more minutes to feel through my frustrations, figure stuff out related to the problem that had sprung up, and now I'm done with it for the day.
At 10:30, I took a deep breath, brewed a fresh pot of coffee, poured myself a glass of water, and I started another Wednesday (which I confidently thought was a Tuesday...). It has been perfectly normal, and about a hundred times better than the 9 am - 10:30 am window of my day.
I'd love to hear your strategies for turning a not so great day around, so share them, a witty anecdote, or a sarcastic word in the comments - I love this kind of learning!