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Why is it that when one thing goes wrong, it seems everything starts to go wrong? It’s like you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and somehow it’s all downhill from there?

I’m at the vet, waiting to get my dog’s annual checkup – not his favorite thing,  although he likes all the face to face with cats, and iguanas and other strange beasts  – when a German Shepherd sweeps in, dragging his poor owner barely hanging on to the leash,  behind him. “Rex, stop,” she’s imploring, not that that does any good. Rex skids to a stop at the reception desk, where his owner heaves a big sigh, and says, “OK, we’re here. for the vaccine clinic.

"Oh, I’m sorry,” the tech says, “’The vaccine clinic is tomorrow, not today.” “Great,” the woman says, “What’s next? This morning the car wouldn’t start, the battery is dead, I got a flat on the way over, the school called to tell me my son’s in trouble again, I missed my dental appointment, I’ve got an excruciating headache, the dog threw up in the car, the vaccine clinic is closed, and this was supposed to be a mental health day. Life sucks.” And with that she yanks Rex, who now of course refuses to budge. “Maybe I’ll just leave him here,” she says.  “Oh, no, you can’t do that,” the tech quickly says, scrambling out from behind the counter, “Here, I’ll help you get him to the car.

Been there, oh so many times. Somehow you have to cope, but how? How do you cope with a day where it all goes  wrong?

Don’t generalize. A series of unfortunate happenings in a day does not add up to “life sucks.”  When you start saying “life sucks” to yourself, you’re on the road to a nasty depression. Instead, stay specific. Say ‘”The car wouldn’t start. OK, it’s not life-threatening, and it’s probably time to get a new battery. Better the car shouldn’t start in the morning than stall on the freeway.” Your son’s in trouble? Take it as a wake up call, an opportunity to get some things straightened out. The vaccine clinic is closed? Take a deep breath, make an appointment for the following week.

The more you’re willing to stay specific in the face of a series of untoward events, the more likely you are to take care of things efficiently. Take it “One thing at a time” and life will be OK, even on a day when it all goes wrong.

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