The most important days are the bad ones
Whether it's fitness or life in general, our success and progress is not linked to how we behave when everything is roses.
Good days or good times are what we live for and what keeps us sane through the ups and downs of life. But character is not built on good days- showing up at the gym when you feel great burns calories just the same, but it's not how you cultivate the discipline and fortitude that the perpetually fit have acquired.
Life is the same. It's easy to be a loving, generous person when you're feeling great and want for nothing or when things are easy. But we are defined by our actions towards people, situations and individual days when everything is going wrong or we're forced to deal with "negativity".
Try and look at bad days, bad situations or people as opportunities and you'll find they aren't as "bad" as you think!
The opportunity for growth
It is natural and normal for humans to avoid pain and we largely structure our lives to maximize good times and minimize the bad. But we often fail to recognize the opportunity for growth that these challenges represent. It's important to try and start associating these painful times with future success or peace.
You might have committed to a new workout program that starts today, but you're still getting over a cold, you didn't have the greatest sleep, had a bad day at work and you're a little nervous about starting something new. All you're thinking about is what a dreadful 45 minutes it's going to be, but it's a great opportunity.
Pushing through that "bad day" is going to make all the other workouts look easy after that. It will build your confidence. When you realize that 10 minutes into the class you forgot about how tired and cranky you were, your baseline for what's enough to skip a workout will be higher. None of this would be possible if you felt fantastic and were doing something familiar and comfortable.
It's the same with a bad situation in a job or relationship; we're often all too quick to cut and run at the first signs of negativity or trouble. These things are just a part of life and we have to learn coping mechanisms for dealing with all sorts of garbage life is going to throw at us. You're unlikely to form a long term relationship or make it to the top of a company by practicing avoidance instead of embracing the opportunity to learn.
Think of all the vapid trust fund babies you see in the news for acting like complete morons; you simply do not develop character, judgement or a sense of gratitude by walking through the raindrops of life. Bad days or even years are where the opportunity for growth lies.
The beauty of adjusting your attitude towards challenging times is that not only will you be more likely to learn something, but you'll be less anxious and fearful about what might be coming down the road.
"Bonus points" for bad days
I like thinking of it as if you get bonus points for the positive actions you take on a bad day. Every pushup when you're feeling like shit is worth two down the road. It's the same with your actions- giving someone a dollar when you're broke means a hell of a lot more than when you're flush. Being a friend to someone who's not doing well and being "negative" is what counts, not just when they're a "positive" influence in your life (don't get me started on the almost sociopathic popularity of ditching your friends at the first sign of negativity).
Bad days are only bad days if you fail to capitalize on opportunity, especially in the gym. It's not going to be your best performance, but it's the shift in attitude and habit that will set you up for major success down the road.
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