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How to Turn a Bad Day Around

Photo by Vanessa Paxton

I was on my way home after purchasing a lavender-scented candle to help kick start a relaxing atmosphere I desperately needed to wind down from a terrible and emotionally draining week at work. I was rummaging for my keys in my purse for what seemed like forever.

Oh no! Are you kidding me? I didn’t have my keys!

I could see my keys right now in my mind’s eye. There they were, resting on the table by the side of the door. That morning my boyfriend locked the door as we headed off to work, while I unknowingly left my keys at home.

The thing was that he just got on a bus to meet up with a friend on the other side of town.

I couldn’t help but laugh miserably at myself. What a fitting ending to a horrible week.

So, distraught, I walked down the street to the small coffee shop a few blocks away and waited at the table outside. The coffee shop had closed for the day and all the lights were off. I was by myself, just waiting for my boyfriend to come home to unlock the door.

Across the street from me, I could see a group of homeless people hanging around outside a building. Feeling a little uneasy about being a woman sitting alone in the dark and worried about the possibility of being harassed, I made sure my back wasn’t facing them as I tried to look as busy as I possibly could (the label of a candle has never looked so intriguing as I have made it to look that night).

I could see a figure out of the corner of my eye, hobble their way towards me. I took a deep breath and braced myself.

It was a woman who looked to be in her early forties with long blonde hair and meth sores on her face. She came up to me and said ”Come hang out with us, my friend thinks your super cute.”

Oh great. Here we go.

Already beyond my threshold of what I could take that evening, I politely declined “No, thank you.”

I could have easily gotten up and walked away but with my feet hurting from standing all day, I didn’t budge.

She asked me, “What are you doing out here all by yourself on a Friday night?”

I told her about my predicament and that my boyfriend was on his way home. She continued to persuade me to hang out with her and her friends and, when she realized it would have been easier to move a mountain, she asked if she could sit down with me.

Being alone and with nothing to do but sniff my lavender-scented candle, I shrugged and said “Sure, why not?”

With a concerned look in her eyes, she asked me if I was hungry because she had bags of fruit from a local church’s donation. Also, in cased I needed to go somewhere, she offered me a few extra bus tickets.

My attitude towards her immediately softened. We chatted for a bit and she told me about what life is like living on the streets and her strained relationship with her daughters.

She then asked me how my week went and without second thought, I blurted out about everything that went wrong that week.

After about 15 minutes of telling her how much I couldn’t wait to quit my job, go home and take a relaxing bubble bath etc… I suddenly remembered who I was speaking to.

Here was a woman, right in front of me, who barely had anything in the world except a grocery cart filled with all her worldly possessions, listening to me, offering me fruit from her limited ration of food and keeping me company.

I was mortified at myself.

The whole time I was feeling terrible about my own situation. I was locked out of my apartment on an evening I was planning on devoting to myself… And instead of sitting in a luxurious bubble bath with candles and a glass of wine, I was sitting out in front of a coffee shop talking to a homeless woman.

But what I didn’t realize was that I was focusing so much on my own problems that I was missing the beauty of the moment right in front of me. A homeless woman was trying to help me feel better about my life.

Realizing this, I felt guilty about how selfish I was being.

And it wasn’t just in this situation I was blinded by my own problems.

This is something that I think a lot of people deal with as well. We have the habit of getting so caught up in our own problems and challenges that we don’t remember to look at life from other people’s perspectives.

This memorable night I had with the homeless woman helped remind me that we are each fighting our own battles for a small slice of happiness in this chaotic world.

It’s easy to get caught up in our own problems and forget to look outside our selves.

Have you ever gotten upset because…

  • That person you sent an email to last week didn’t write back? Perhaps they are going through a family crisis.
  • Your partner isn’t being as loving and affectionate as you’d like? Perhaps he’s so stressed out with his finances or problems at work.
  • Someone cut you off on the drive to work? Perhaps that person was rushing to the hospital to be by a loved one’s side.
  • Your bossed snapped at you? Perhaps their wife or husband walked out on them the night before.

There are people out there who would gladly trade your problems for theirs. My point is, just think back to a time when someone was compassionate towards you when you needed it. Your smallest gestures of kindness can and do have a profound effect on someone’s day.

The secret to gaining more compassion is to get in the habit of seeing things through another person’s eyes, because behind every person’s action is a positive intention of finding their own slice of happiness in this world.

Share humanity with the person right next to you because on their toughest days, bestowing kindness is a gift that keeps on giving with a powerful and lasting effect.

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Mika Maddela
About the author

Mika Maddela writes for the relationship advice blog, The Path to Passion. She is passionate about helping people create space for them to be unselfishly committed to the success and vitality of their relationship through self-awareness and emotional responsibility. For Think Simple Now readers, she's hooking you up with a free copy of the Total Life Turn Around Course.

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15 thoughts on How to Turn a Bad Day Around

  1. I often have these realizations where I suddenly remember how minuscule my concerns are. It’s very tough to remember how unimportant the majority of my worries are and when I see people with genuine problems like dealing with a family tragedy, I feel guilty.

    That woman sounds amazing. I know people who would feel very angry and say “You’re complaining? Look at me!” or the classic “There are people ______ in Africa.” To have someone much less fortunate listen and smile understandingly is touching.

  2. Debbie G.

    Hello Mika — Just wanted you to know this story touched me deeply … I love how you expressed yourself … We’re all human … we get through the best we can … you shouldn’t feel guilty … as you did realize what had happened … as long as you learned from your experience … some people who are REALLY caught up in themselves would have shooed her away … or even worse been rude to her … I’m so glad you shared it … God Bless you and also her and her friends … you blessed her by just being yourself and sharing with her … Thanks again.

  3. Johannes

    Thank you of sharing. Its important to keep in mind to look at life from other people’s perspective, feeling empathy instead of frustration, anger,,let us never judge anyone, we cant know whats behind someones behavior, anyone can have bad day so let us not take everything personalty..

  4. Rashmi

    Sometimes we get so caught up in our own life and problems that we forget that we’re all fighting our own battles.

  5. Mika

    Hey Vincent,

    Thanks for your comment. That night was truly humbling and was a great reminder that there are other people out there who have it 10x more difficult than I do.
    xx, Mika

  6. Sara

    Thank you so much for this article. It really makes you put things into perspective and appreciate what we have. This short story has changed my ways in more than you could imagine!

  7. We all need to get over ourselves and see the whole universe and where we are as part of it. Do our little problems and concerns really matter that much. Is it the end of the world? Well, nothing is the end of the world until it actually is the end of the world. Finding serenity while things are going badly is the trick to real spirituality. Anyone not attuned to the Serenity Prayer should get a hold of it and read it over and over again especially when tough stuff happens.

  8. Hello Mika,

    Thank you for an inspiring post. Your story makes me think. Sometimes we really do focus on the wrong things in life and take some things for granted.

    What makes me think in this article is that sometimes we should take one step back and reflect. We don’t know why people react as they do because we don’t know what they have been subject to their entire lives.

    Let’s encourage each other to be open and understanding towards each other. I believe that would create a better world for all of us.

    Anders Hasselstrøm

  9. Delmy Sabio

    This is so meaningful!! My own life would be better if I get out of myself more often and see the bigger picture. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Joy

    Oh my goodness. Such a wakeup/slap in the face for me today. Im having a sulk about a relationship im in where a girl is flirting with my guy, because someone hasn’t replied to my post on FB, because work is a mess at the mo (due to my boss going through personal issues). Hello Joy chill out!

    Think I need to go for a run.
    Thanks Mika

  11. Si

    We do often forget how lucky we are to even have what we have because we do indeed become too involved with our own problems. And most of the time, these are not “big” problems per say, but we make them “big” by giving them our attention.

    Like you point out above, there are people who are less fortunate but still strive to see the positive things in their lives and these are the people who are truly happy and are leading a more fulfilling life.

    Thanks for sharing.

  12. james okogbaa

    The story perfectly fits a common African or Nigerian folk story that says, ‘ I was complaining I don’t have shoes until I found someone without legs’. Its really very common to find many of us complaining about the situations we face without taking time to know we’re not alone. My best friend told me something about the need to hear someone out, maybe a close associate or wife or business partner, you name before making an accusatory statement. The need to hear your partner out is so important if he came in later than you planned from work etc because you had no clue what kept him late; a bad traffic, an accident etc. We need to hear each out first before we play the good guy card

  13. Great post ….

    It is so easy to get caught up in our version of reality. I had lots of bad days until I began the practice of writing a gratitude list. When I focus on being grateful it is a lot easier to embrace joy and love all of life.

    On a trip home recently due to a series of late flights and disabled planes I couldn’t get home that day. United put me up in a hotel and payed for my dinner. I was grateful for the soft bed and the flight home the next day. My bags even made it!

    Gratitude makes all the difference.


  14. it is normal to have a bad day, but it is very interesting to get to know how to change it.

  15. Benedicta

    The secret to gaining more compassion is to get in the habit of seeing things through another person’s eyes, because behind every person’s action is a positive intention of finding their own slice of happiness in this world.

    i have been too frustrated that i was not being well treated these days….
    i guess this is an eye opener….i actually have to do a re-focus of issues an be as happy as i can be putting my trust in God.

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