"I used to have some really bad days, and I kept them in a little box, and one day I threw them out into the yard. Oh it was just a couple little innocent bad days… Well we had a big rain…. I don’t know what it was growing in, but I think we used to put eggshells out there, and coffee grounds too. Don’t plant your bad days; they grow into weeks. The weeks grow into months, before you know it, you’ve got yourself a bad year." -Tom Waits
A while back, I had hit my personal lowest-low, and the bad experiences seemed to keep piling on — The poison ivy of my mind was growing higher and thicker. Mentally, I was trapped in a vortex of bad thoughts, and physically I was trapped in my bedroom (well, not literally…).
When things were beginning to slowly come back together for me, I got some really great advice from a peer-support facilitator that expedited my recovery. She told me that you can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you think about it, and how you deal with the situation. By extension, she argued, you have control about how you feel.
This piece of advice turned my world upside-down (or perhaps, right-side-up). It wasn’t the first time I had heard this, in fact, I remember my dad giving me similar advice when I was a kid. Maybe it was the fact that I was so lost, that I was willing to try anything. Maybe it was that I needed to hear that advice a thousand-and-one times before it made sense… For whatever reason, when the facilitator told me this, it finally ‘clicked’, and I was determined to change my life. (Cue inspirational music.)
About a year ago, I decided that I was no longer going to have bad days; I wasn’t going to have regrets, or dwell on negative thoughts. At first it was incredibly difficult; it’s hard to give up trying to manage things you’ve spent your life trying to control. And honestly, it’s kind of scary… It’s a habitual exercise, that I still have to remind myself of sometimes, but with time, and experience, it becomes easier and easier… When I dedicated myself to this idea, I had begun to plant my good days, those days grew into weeks, which grew into months, and before I knew it, I had myself a good year.
Be careful what you plant.