Don’t Anticipate a Good Day, Or a Bad Day. Just Have A Day

Have you ever felt pressure to be happy?

I have.

Some of that pressure has come from me: my own brush with death, and the death of my son Hugo has left me with (amongst many other things) a sense that days of my life must not be wasted. That I must appreciate every day of life, and to the full.

Some of the pressure is external, from things like inspirational quotes that get shared on social media. Dependent on my mood, I can appreciate what some of them are saying but others can be what I like to call ‘unicorns farting rainbows’.

Rationally, I know even the more unrealistic quotes aren’t expecting people to go around hugging strangers, and dancing in fields full of flowers. They are trying to tell people to not sweat the small stuff, to appreciate the good in every day, to take a moment to think about the things that make them happy.

That near-death experience and Hugo’s death have given me a sense of perspective: I tend to not get stressed about trivial things like I used to. I don’t sweat the small stuff. Conversely, however, a legacy of what happened is anxiety. Anxiety can make feeling happy a challenge. That can be frustrating because anxiety very often defies any rational explanation.

As you might expect, I often feel sad. Sadness is the polar opposite to happiness. Sometimes turning the frown upside down just isn’t easy – or possible.

I know that I am fortunate to still be alive, which forms a fundamental appreciation of the good in every day. Every day I try to think of three good things that have happened to me (however small). It is a good habit to get into – but mostly I forget. Sometimes, the forgetting makes me feel bad – I’m not doing something I ‘should’ be doing.

There are many things that make me happy in life. The trouble is, my perspective on the things that make me happy has changed in the past year. That is bound to happen, really. The joy I felt for spring’s arrival has been tempered by thoughts of what happened last year. The pleasure I used to take in watching films and reading books isn’t quite there in the way it used to be, due to poor concentration and being vigilant for triggers (I am getting back in to them, though, which is something to be happy about). Perhaps I need to write a list of things that make me happy.

Or, at least things that make me smile, lift my mood a little.

I say that because I sometimes ask whether I can feel happy? Bereavement can make me think that I will never again feel happy, partly due to the sadness of grief and partly due to guilt that I ‘shouldn’t’ feel happy.

Of course I deserve to be happy, just like anyone does. Easier said than done, though.

So, happiness is something I want, and that I deserve. But this most humble of concepts can be hard to grasp because of changing perspectives, shifting moods, grief taking away happiness, guilt when feeling happy, guilt when not feeling happy, anxiety, being frustrated with the anxiety, pressure to feel happy (and pressure is rarely good).

Phew.

With all those complexities in mind, I was relieved to spot this quote on Twitter today.

I know, you’re sad, so I won’t tell you to have a good day. Instead I advise you to simply have a day. Stay alive, feed yourself well, wear comfortable clothes, and don’t give up on yourself just yet. It’ll get better. Until then, have a day.

For many people, for so many reasons simply getting through a day is an achievement. Sometimes you need a bit of time to just be.

It’s not that I don’t wish you a ‘good’ day. I hope you have a lovely day. But that isn’t always possible.

Expectations are tiring, as is guilt.

I am trying to tell myself that feelings are what they are (and don’t tell me it’s ok to not be ok).

Easier said than done, I know all too well.

Don’t give up. Step by step, things can change. Maybe not better, different perhaps. I have days I can call a ‘good’ day. I have days I call ‘bad’ days. I have days where I feel both joy and sorrow. And lots of other things besides. Most of us experience a range of emotions during a day, whatever we are doing.

If days are going to be labelled perhaps it is better to label them retrospectively, when the day is done.

So have a day.

No prefix, no expectations. No shoulds or shouldn’ts.

Sometimes you want a good day – and you can feel it. Being positive, if you genuinely feel positive, is great. Sometimes, though, you can feel it’s going to be a bad day. Can you make a day good or bad through positive and negative expectation? Maybe, maybe not. Some things are within our control, others are not. A discussion for another day.

You don’t have to anticipate a good day, or a bad day. Especially if getting through the day is a going to be a challenge.

Just have a day.

 

Do you feel pressure to be happy?

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

18 thoughts on “Don’t Anticipate a Good Day, Or a Bad Day. Just Have A Day

  1. meghanoc says:

    this post is great! yes and yes. I see those inspirational quotes, how the strongest people make the best out of a bad situation. When I read those I feel guilty for not “making the best” out of my daughter’s death. THere are many times when I think the strongest people are simply surviving a bad situation. YOu’ve summed it up so well here!

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Yes, jeez – those drive me mad, how can we ‘make the best’ out of what happened to us, losing our children? Stuff it making us stronger, or only being given things because we’re strong enough to handle them…so the deaths of our children is some kind of warped reward? You are so right, the strongest people are merely surviving a bad situation. And that’s all we can do – survive. Thanks for commenting, Meghan xxx

      Like

  2. Jenni - Odd Socks and Lollipops says:

    Such a wonderful post and I totally agree, each day is it’s own – some good, some bad, some just days… I think we should be able to take them for what they are.
    I think there is so much pressure to be happy and enjoy things, in fact I find those times most difficult to enjoy. Christmas as much as I love it, it also exhausts me and I feel like I can’t have a crap day or even just an ok day. Suffering with depression at various points over the past 10 plus years has made me reluctant to share when I am feeling unhappy as I feel like I shouldn’t be feeling like that, and I don’t wait to burden anyone else.
    I do love the idea of thinking of three good things that have happened each day, I might have to start doing that. Thank you.

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      It can be really difficult, can’t it – you can’t help your emotions and guilt really doesn’t help make you feel any happier! I hope the three good things helps a little, though. Thanks for commenting xxx

      Like

  3. joyandpops says:

    I can relate – the anxiety I developed after Louis died sadly only increased with the births of my two girls. sometimes I think my ‘fight or flight’ switch is permanently on ‘fight’. How do you stay happy when you’re waiting for the axe to fall – conversely I don’t want to waste my life missing out on the good bits.
    I went to University the year after Louis died. I remember standing in the student Union surrounded by people have fun – I felt like the world had gone mad (suffice to say I spent most of my degree in the library!).
    I had many days where I just existed, just got through. Trite as it is to say the good days eventually become more often it is true (trite things usually are). It happens so slowly, you barely notice.
    Ignore anyone who tries to ‘make’ you happy – they’re crazy.
    Now if I could just shake the anxiety I could have a few more ‘happy’ days.
    Xx
    #brilliantblogposts

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      I think you’re right – the switch is stuck on ‘fight’, or ‘freeze’, hence the anxiety. Yes, there is no way to ‘make’ anyone happy, and it usually ends up creating animosity. It’s incongruous – not wanting to waste your life, but constantly caught up with anxiety. Thanks for your very kind comment, lovely. I hope you have more ‘happy’ days xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. kaitlynva says:

    I remember thinking that I would never, ever be truly happy again… And then the moment that I finally was, about 6 months after Sacha’s death, when I went swimming in an outdoor lake with a friend and felt like a little girl again. It was such a relief.

    I don’t feel pressure to be happy, luckily – although I imagine that I would feel that way if I spent more time with family, and felt that I needed to be happy “for them”. Carefully choosing who I spend time with – and limiting social media exposure – continues to be a difficult and painful process, but one that ultimately helps me feel more free.

    I do feel anxiety… Lots and lots of anxiety!!!

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      I think it’s key to choose who you spend time with, and control wherever possible what you’re exposed to social media wise, after a bereavement for the sake of your own sanity. It’s wonderful you had a truly happy moment. Sorry to read you get the anxiety too. Thanks for commenting xx

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  5. Tim says:

    I really like the idea of ‘having a day’. If the day turns out well, it’s a bonus to be celebrated and not taken for granted. If it’s a bad day, well, tomorrow’s another opportunity to have a day, right? We do seem to heap a lot of pressure on ourselves these days, getting caught up in the distorted view of ‘perfection’ that is what people choose to share on social media. But life is what it is: imperfect and unpredictable.

    Like

      • Tim says:

        I think you and Martin have set a great example to follow. Life throws a variety of punches at us – some harder and less expected than others – and the way you have acknowledged rather than denied the pain is inspiring and puts the relatively minor setbacks that most of us encounter into their proper context.

        Like

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