Did you think that it takes a crisis to ruin your day? Do you carry around the notion that bad days are caused solely by unhappy events and mean people? Are you operating with the assumption that the quality of your day is totally determined by external events?
To each of these questions, we respond, “Au Contraire, Little Buckaroo. Au so very contraire.” After years of practice and research, we now know that it is entirely possible to destroy an entire day without the help of any major accident or dilemma. With nary a mishap or calamity, it is absolutely feasible to spend most of your waking hours with your panties in a wad. And here’s the amazing news: You can do it on your own! In the privacy of your own bedroom! Single-handedly, with no help from even your worst enemy, it is possible for you to set yourself up for a truly terrible day.
Now before you get too over-wrought with excitement, you need to know that it does take some concentration and focus. You can’t make yourself miserable for a complete 24 hours without some intentional application. Bad days don’t just happen. You have to lay the groundwork.
So here are eleven step-by-step, easy-to-follow guidelines to drag any potentially pleasant day right into the gutter:
1) Repeat Le Mantra Miserable’: I know exactly how this day is supposed to go; and if it should vary in the least from my expectations, it will truly piss me off. (Repeat several times.)
2) Pull out a summer fashion magazine and compare your body to any of the models you see pictured. Pay particular attention to specific body parts.
3) Think of someone (preferably a relative) who is much better off financially than you are. Keep asking yourself, “What’s wrong with me?”
4) Make a mental list of all those people for whom you bought lunch and who never returned the favor.
5) Become aware of all aches or pains in your body and imagine each of these discomforts as a symptom of some deadly disease.
6) Think of all the places in your home which need cleaning or fixing.
7) List the loves of your life that dumped you.
8) Look at your face and body closely in a mirror. Very closely. For best results, use one of those magnifying mirrors.
9) Concentrate on all the parts of your life which are unfulfilled.
10) Check the weather and decide whether it’s too dry, too wet, too cold, too hot, too unpredictable, too routine. Vow to complain about the weather several times during the day. Especially to people who don’t care.
11) Repeat step one.
You see, having a rotten day is easier than you think. No longer do you have to leave it all to chance. Just remember: the secret is perfectionism and dominion. Don’t let anyone ever try to convince you that it’s OK for life to be messy or that most things are totally out of your control. The good news is that perfection is impossible and any attempt to live perfectly is doomed to failure.
So, get out there and have yourself a frustrating day. And don’t forget, it all starts in your head.
Howard Hanger is the Minister of Ritual and Celebration at Jubilee Community in Asheville, N.C.