I had a really crappy day recently. I was slumped in the back seat of a car, trying to block out the droning radio announcer when I heard a story about how moving the muscles in your face into a smile actually releases endorphins or some other chemical that gives you a boost of Happiness. A true fake it until you make it situation.
Now, I know a thing or two about Happiness. And I knew that study was true. I am fully aware of how forcing yourself to smile has numerous health benefits. I know all the tricks and tips for a positive life.
And I knew the story meant well, but that announcer’s chipper voice only fueled my distaste for the entire world. I was in a crappy mood and nobody (and nothing) was going to convince me otherwise.
I found myself getting more resentful and bitter. How dare they even try to make it better! Don’t they know that it has been a crappy day?
I was content to press my forehead into the window and mope in my justified misery.
Now normally, when I have the quintessential “bad day,” I can – in varying degrees – talk myself out of it. I can find the positive and dance along with the radio and even agree with the studies that the announcers share about the importance of smiling.
But that day, I realized I didn’t want to smile with the radio. I needed that car ride to process the things I was upset about. I needed the silence and the sullenness that comes from staring at a car window whilst being stuck in traffic. There’s something to be said about that.
By all means – fake it until you make it. There is science and logic and reason behind smiling even when you feel dejected. However, I’m calling in the science of rainy car rides to also implore the importance of allowing yourself to feel angry and sad and frustrated – even if it’s just for a few minutes.
I returned home and went about my evening activities, debriefing my day with my roommates and settling into a much better headspace. I knew the bumps in the road weren’t going to permanently throw me off kilter, but I also knew I wanted to come around to reason in my own time.
And I did. There’s quote I keep on my desk that says: “Congratulations! The week is almost over, and it looks like you're going to survive.” I live for the dramatics.
The first time I saw the quote, it made me laugh really hard. A few moments later, after I had scribbled it into my notebook, I thought about another mantra – the one that applauds me for surviving 100% of my worst days.
And maybe that’s what it all comes down to at the end of the day – you have survived every single one of your worst days. That kind of makes you an expert. So you don’t have to listen to radio announcers. You don’t have to listen to me. All you have to do is listen that little voice that tells you it’s okay to solemnly stare out the window like you’re in a music video from the 90s. And then – when you’re good and ready – you can sling your guitar over your shoulder and rejoin your band mates and the world.