[Short] Catching a bad day before it happens

One of the simplest ways to dramatically improve your quality of life is to do something that we call “stamping out the embers”.

A bad mood or a bad day starts as something small that you allow to escalate.

There are always these “embers” that warn you of a coming fire, a small precursor that you know from experience usually escalates into drama.

I used to see this all the time working with criminal offenders. A guy might get into a fight on Friday night, but it actually all started on Wednesday morning when he allowed some negative thinking to escalate. By the time he punches a dude, he can’t even remember when his bad mood began.

So you could just be in a bit of a grumpy mood in the morning, or something doesn’t quite go your way early on in the day, and what happens next makes all the difference. Either you catch yourself turning this thing into a big deal, or you don’t catch yourself and it becomes a big deal and has a big impact that might last days, weeks or even months.

But you can train yourself to look for the embers. Where’s the little flame that is starting to build?

Maybe it’s telling myself a story that life’s unfair, or that I’m having a bad morning, or that things are tough for me. I can just catch it, saying,

“OK, stop it right there, that’s enough. Something went wrong. Okay, acknowledged. Now let’s move on. Start over with a fresh slate.”

If you can master that act, you can basically save the day.

And if nothing else, the next time you’re in the middle of a bad day, ask yourself, “When did this start?” and notice how you escalated something small into the current disaster.

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