How to Have a Horrible Day Full of Failure and Regret… On Purpose
Try as you may, some days are going to be bad. Most days are going to be good and you will be productive and focused. You will have the wind in your sails and a smile that says the sky’s the limit. Nothing is stopping you. But some days, nothing will go right. Nothing will hit its mark despite your best efforts. You will get off to a great start at first, but then you are out of milk or your coffee spilt, or you oversleep and run out the door wishing you had a coffee to spill in the first place. You know bad days come to everyone. You also know that, for so many good days and happy mornings, there are going to be a handful of bad ones mixed in there.
So why not schedule out your bad days at your own convenience?
Take the ratio that realistically encapsulates the number of good-vibes, feeling-free days you have versus the number of horrible, can’t-find-your-keys, shoes-on-the-wrong-feet type of days. Let’s say 29 good days for every 1 bad one. So then, over the next month, you know you will have 29 rainbows-and-sunshine days and 1 puking-on-your boss day. Why not pick out which days are going to be which?
Tuesday the 12th seems like a good choice for your next very bad day. There are a lot of very important events on that day. You have a presentation scheduled in the morning, a date night at a fancy restaurant in the evening, and all sorts of errands to run in the afternoon. So, you mark it on your calendar and circle it. Big red letters read: BIG BAD DAY. Monday the 11th comes up and you need to spend some time the night before your big day preparing the perfect set-up. You check your list:
- Switch your alarm from AM to PM
- Lock your car keys in your car
- Leave a few perishable items out on the counter to spoil
- Spray oil on all your dishes so they are extra slippery
- Loosen the salt shaker top and set your toaster to blacken your bagel to the mirror-image of your soul
- Print off the wrong files for work and jam the printer while you’re at it
- Leave a bread crumb trail of sugar granules from your house to the nearest termite mound you can find
- Let your indoor cat run loose outside for the first time
- Dump bacon grease on your newest pair of shoes to entice your dog to chew them to pieces
- Leave a few candles lying haphazardly around the house near copious amounts of newspaper and keep your fingers crossed
- Switch up construction signs on the expressway to cause a major accident thus delaying traffic for miles around
- ground up yesterday’s leftovers and smear them across your pristine dress shirt
- Give your babysitter’s best friend two all-expenses-paid VIP tickets to see Justin Bieber to ensure she cancels on you at the last moment
…You get the idea. Do everything in your power to make Tuesday horrible. Get your one bad day in for the month and it will be done and over with to guarantee that the remaining days of the month will have no misfortunes, no screw-ups, nothing will go wrong. Carpe Diem. You have seized the day. You have wrangled a grip on bad luck, the one thing most people let slide through their fingers and attribute its fickleness to the whims of chance.
Obviously, engineering one horrible day for yourself to get it over with won’t guarantee the rest of the month will be smooth sailing. But the question arises from this thought experiment: what kind of day would Tuesday be?
By this I mean what sort of day would it really be? How would you feel from the moment you realized that you successfully overslept to late at night when you are still roaming the neighborhood looking for your lost cat? Can you imagine yourself feeling upset in accomplishing precisely what you set out to do? Sure, you’ve ruined several aspects of your life and your house is being simultaneously devoured by termites and burning to the ground while you are exasperatingly explaining the difference between a shoe and a chew toy to your obliviously happy dog BUT… you did it all yourself. Your plans succeeded. You engineered the worst day ever for yourself and everything came true. Can you truly picture yourself being angry at anything?
For the life of me, I cannot.
I picture myself laughing good-naturedly at each of the little jokes I played on myself. I see myself feeling new heights of empowerment. Or maybe I might find just a little bit of gratitude in the fact that I would have to try so hard to ruin an otherwise mostly good life. How would you respond?
See, contemplating the absurdity of planning out your bad days is not about actually shifting the tides of bad and good luck in your favor. It is about asking yourself what aspects of your life are truly controllable. How far would you go to try to get control of something that is not within your power? It is about asking whether your semi-superstitious attitudes toward good and bad day are more up to you than you think. It is a form of negative visualization from Stoic philosophy that enlightens you to the realization that, even if everything flew off the rails, even if you were solely responsible for all of it, you could still find some redeemable virtue in it. Whether that be that you have conquered Fate itself or that you have just completed your bad day for the month and tomorrow can’t be equally bad the same way lightning can’t strike the same place twice.