(5 minute read)
There are good days and there are bad days, and this is one of them. – Lawrence Welk
Some day’s life stinks.
Yes, I know the utopian quotes. “The only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude.”
I often wonder who came up with that and what their life was like. I figure they either died at a ripe old age of 3 or uttered these words while under the influence of some illegal substance.
While attitude is a contributor to making a day seem good or bad I refuse to believe we can “will” all days to be good. There are some days, no matter how hard we try to make them good, reek of rottenness. On days like this where not even an iron will can turn them to bliss we need something more.
First let’s look at some common factors that make for rotten days:
- Poor decisions past and present. Yesterday’s decisions can make for rotten days today and far into the future. With every bad decision our opportunities for the future narrow. Worse yet, for some mistakes, every day is payday. Make thoughtful decisions. Consider their long term ramifications. No decision is inconsequential. What’s more, the decisions of others can spawn some rotten days for us as well. Those who decide to drive drunk or text while driving are two examples where others can engender some rotten days for others.
- We are part of the cesspool of humanity. This is one of those moments when you hear your mother whispering in your mind, “Life isn’t fair sweetheart. The sooner you realize it the better off you will be.” I am not sure parents say that anymore. Maybe they are too busy reciting quotes about every day being a good one instead. The bottom line is, the actions of others affect us, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. Being the victim of a crime, or the child of an abusive parent, is no fault of your own. The consequences we all as a society pay for criminals are astounding. Taxes, security systems, police forces, legal fees, prisons, even the cost of keeping lights on all night in places of business as a deterrent are just a few of the cost involved.
- Entropy. The second law of thermodynamics tells us there is a gradual decline to disorder in all systems. It doesn’t take a scientist to figure this out. Just consider your laundry. That smelly something in your refrigerator or those wrinkles developing on your skin are all signs of entropy. Some days everything just seems to fall apart all at once. Thank entropy.
- Nature. There are times when storms come in a quite literal sense. Statistics would show it is implausible for a tornado to strike the same family three times. Then again, statistics are many times equal to bologna. Tornadoes have hit our home three times. Two of those events were in consecutive years. I remember saying when the second one hit, “Well, you can’t get any closer than this one without some serious damage.” The following year, a somewhat smaller tornado did in fact tract a few hundred feet closer to our house, taking out a small barn, yet leaving our house unscathed. Nature can make for some blissful days, but it can bring some rotten ones with fierce rage as well. There is nothing quite like an act of nature to generate some serious disorder.
- Time. Time dictates that we grow old. Sun exposure, wear and tear on our joints, and genetic mechanisms all deliver a verdict of decline and death.
If you are saying to yourself at this point, “Wow, this chick has gone big time gloom and doom on us with this blog,” wait, there is good news.
There are concrete ways you can make even the rottenest of days better.
Here’s how to have better rotten days:
- Prepare your finances for rainy days.
Have a rainy day fund. How big should it be? It depends on many factors such as your age, lifestyle, amount of debt, job opportunities available in your field, mobility, how many dependents you have, and your financial goals. As a good rule of thumb, calculate your cost of living for 6 months. Remember to factor in extra expenses that will come with unemployment such as insurance coverage. This amount of money should be enough for a rainy day fund. Still can’t picture what this looks like or how to go about getting it? Check out this guide from Vangaurd for more information. Even in retirement you need a rainy day fund. Being retired means you have a fixed income which can add complication. Here is a simple guide to help prepare for unexpected expenses in retirement.
Consider in what forms rain will show up. I am always taken aback by the level of surprise some people have when bad things happen. I have heard advertisements for appliance insurance for example. The sales person states that a clothes washer breaking can drain your savings. For this you need insurance costing about $700 per year. I dare say if you were to put $700 a year in a savings account you would have plenty of money to fix whatever appliance was in need of repair or replacement with money to spare.
Stuff breaks. Remember entropy? Vehicles, houses, appliances, even our own bodies break. Expect it. Be ready to pay for it.
Having the money available to weather these storms will make it easier to sing in the rain when it comes.
- Prepare your emotions for:
End of life. There is little that can make for a more rotten day than losing a loved one. While it is impossible to prepare for such a loss there are some actions that can help in coping with a loss.
Grief classes can enlighten us ahead of time about some of the possible effects a loss may have on our lives. Knowing even a little about what to expect can be helpful.
Attending funerals can keep a healthy recognition of the frailty of life at the forefront of our minds.
Have frank discussions with your loved ones about end of life.
Make sure your spiritual life is in order. Be at ease with who you are.
Loss of stuff. Don’t get too attached to your stuff as it just might get blown away one day or go up in flames. How attached to your stuff are you? Does your stuff own you? The less attached you are the easier it is to see it go.
The life you have chosen. Set your expectations in accord with your chosen lifestyle. For example, living on a farm means higher maintenance than living in an apartment. Orthopedic surgery as a career choice will bring quite different demands on a person than say computer programming. Consider the downstream effects your lifestyle choices will have and prepare to cope. All good things come with a price tag of sacrifice. Be sure you are willing to make the sacrifice demanded by your life choices. Again, having realistic expectations will lessen disappointments and limit unpleasant surprises down the road.
- Prepare legally.
Most states require some form of insurance on belongings such as houses and vehicles. In addition to these a life insurance policy with a high enough value to get those left behind out of debt and on their feet can bring some peace of mind should disaster strike. Having a Will or trust is of equal importance.
Also, consider a Living Will stating under what conditions you would accept life support, or resuscitation. Put in writing how you would like a terminal illness handled, desired limitations on treatments and under what circumstances you would want these treatments limited to palliative care. No one likes to think about these types of situations affecting them but if they do, having these documents in place can not only ease the stress of the patient but also of their family, friends and caregivers.
No matter if today is rosy or rotten strive to be grateful and make the most of it. Accept that eventually rotten days will come. Accepting this reality and preparing for them can turn even the rottenest of days a little more rosy.
The less stressful your rotten days are the sooner you can bounce back to enjoy the rosy ones again. They will come as well if we are patient and looking.
May your blissful days be bountiful; your rotten ones rare and both be carefully prepared for.
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