Some days it seems like the best course of action is just to shut the alarm clock, roll to the other side and go back to sleep.
For years my approach for “having a bad day,” was to try and fight it off, ignore the telltale signs and hope for the best. This method, I can now testify, is inadequate. It is based on the common Western belief that we are masters of our own destiny, and that there is nothing we cannot conquer so long as we put our mind to it. This perception is so deeply engraved in me that I find any other attitude unfathomable.
Luckily for me, such nasty days are few and far between. Still, after recently having such an experience, another perspective came to mind. What if I view my mental state similarly to the way I view a physiological condition? After all, if I catch a cold or a stomach flu, I can treat the symptoms to a limited degree, but ultimately the virus needs to work its way out of the system. I can will a 24-hour bug out, but will as I would, 24 hours it will take…
Some bad moods can be explained, others are a mystery. These can be the result of body chemistry, affected by last evening’s meal, or maybe a shift in position of some remote stars. Our knowledge in this area is still quite limited; science can only explain so much and the rest we leave to mysticism.
This reminds me of an article I read some time ago. It was an essay about recent research bringing to light that colonies of viruses and bacteria in our body actually communicate, manipulating us into taking action that will help them grow and spread. These tiny life forms actually have a way of sending messages to each other through the release of chemicals into our blood stream. Some of this was already known, e.g. a cold virus causes us to cough which, in turn, helps the virus spread via air-travel, to other people.
But it turns out that there are more sophisticated forces at play. It had been suggested that some STD viruses may cause in influx in sexual desire, causing a person to seek unprotected intercourse with as many people as possible, thus helping that virus spread. If this can indeed be established, would rapists be able to use it as legal protection, claiming their actions were not their own but a result of a physiological ill effect that altered their mental state? It is a scary thought yet one that may need a discussion in the foreseeable future. But I am digressing.
Going back to having a bad day; seeking another way of looking at it, I turned to Taoism. The I-Ching, the book of changes, promotes the idea of Yin and Yang as a life cycle. This includes not just black and white but a whole range of states of being, ever-shifting in a constant flux. It teaches us how to identify where we are in the cycle, and that if one is it a place of full Yang (expansion, white,) unfavorable opportunities are worth taking, while if in a state of full Yin, the opposite applies. When in Yin, the advice is to keep to yourself, go into a self-preservation mode and weather it out. No need to fight and uselessly waste energy; it shall pass.
Thus next time I sense a bad day coming, the plan is to cancel any meetings I may have, stay in bed as I would when seriously ill, fetch a good book and take the day off. I trust that it will be a better experience than trying hopelessly to wear it out.
Learned from: a bad day, Taoism.