September 16, 2013

Life Bites Sometimes...So Attitude is Everything--A guest post on Ikigaid

I was asked to write a guest article on the blog, Ikigaid. Ikigaid is an inspirational blog dedicated to helping people in life "see, think and do good." Each month is themed for them and September is ATTITUDE.

One of the founders and writers of Ikigaid follows our blog and asked if I could write a feature on attitude. They specifically wanted to hear about my philosophy that bad days don't exist.

I pondered it for a few days and then wrote the following article. It was fun to really dig in deep and discover why I don't believe in bad days. I hope that it helps others discover the beauty in their lives--even amidst the rocky ride.

Click the link to read the article on Ikigaid:

The link above is no longer working, so here is the text:

Life Bites Sometimes…So Attitude is Everything

Bad days don’t exist.

Yes, you read that correctly—I don’t believe in bad days. Nor do I believe in bad months or years for that matter. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that life does bite sometimes. There are moments when all want to sit on the beach and soak up the sun, yet we are stuck in deep water, treading with all our might, and just when we feel we can swim ourselves up to the surface another waves comes crashing in.

It was years ago that I stopped believing in bad days. There are challenges, heartbreaks, trials and disappointments, our ‘waves’ of life if you will, that we face along our journey of life. However, they are   not the entire day; they are only portions or moments of the day. Before, and after, those moments we  experience times of mercy, love and joy. It is our attitude that transforms our perspective.

A former president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, stated the same sentiment as he rallied the United States through the Great Depression when he said, ‘things are not so good, but every cloud has silver lining.’ These experiences of hardship, with the right attitude, become the defining moments of our lives. Will we give up and drown with the next wave? Or do we dig deep within ourselves and find the energy the keep kicking?

Before you stop reading and tell me, like someone told me twelve years ago, that I am naïve to not believe in bad days, let me give some examples. Just think about a day, or experience, that you would label as “bad,” “horrible,” or find yourself saying “why did that happen to me?” Have you thought of one? They are usually memories that are seared into your mind and still give you cold sweats when you recall them.

These could be getting a speeding ticket making your late schedule even worse, someone you love dying,  spilling a drink on your suit before an important meeting, breaking up or getting divorced, losing your job, an accident or injury, or it could be as simple as snoring in public or finding out you had toilet paper stuck on your shoe for the last hour.

While you are thinking I will tell you some of mine. First, a simple one: Growing up, baseball was the family sport. We all played. My uncle was my coach from the time I started Little League until the time I graduated high school. He knew my weaknesses and strengths on the field. One of my strengths my entire life was bunting. I could lay down a bunt on a baseline just in time to win a game. My senior year we were playing in the State finals. This was it. As a senior I wouldn’t get another chance to play in this tournament again. We were losing by one and had two men on base. It was my turn at the plate and my uncle gave me the signs. I went to the plate and to my horror I struck out! Later, my uncle yelled in frustration that I had missed his sign for me to bunt. The game was lost because I made a mistake.

Another example was at the age of ten I amputated all my fingers in a farm accident on my right hand. For the rest of my life I will live with a handicap. Some more personal and emotional experiences include saying goodbye to six of our seven children in their infancy and both my wife, Lady Hiva and I have one sibling that died by suicide.

As you can see, I am no stranger to heartache. And I don’t want to diminish that fact that we have things happen that we cannot control. However, we have our choice on how to handle the trial. We can become embittered, hateful, depressed and angry by focusing only on the “bad.” Doing this only blinds us to all the positive that happens as well. It also poisons our ability to function. All we want to do is give up.

We need to step back, refocus and reevaluate. There is a silver lining, we just need to see it. In my baseball example losing the last game of my high school career, letting my team down, or making a  mistake could be that poison that blinds me to the fact that during my ten years of playing baseball with my uncle I learned how to push through hard times until the very end and how to win, and lose, gracefully.

Although an accident left me with fingers that are a handicap, I have learned to improvise and find new ways to do traditional parts of life. A physical handicap doesn’t have to be debilitating. Losing a child is one of most devastating experiences any person can have. Any parent that has buried their child can attest to this. The days we said goodbye to our children would be as close as I have ever come to titling a day as a bad day. Yet, each time we also were filled with love.

The day after the funeral for our son, Vaitafe, we received the call that my younger brother, Trevor, died by suicide. Sadness became devastation. This was a defining moment. We could give in and drown in the desolation or we could keep swimming. We had to get my parents back home and when we told the airline agent our situation she put them on the next flight at no extra charge. If that wasn’t enough to convince there is a silver lining, we had a phone call when we arrived home that some friends, who had  known what that Lady Hiva and I had just experienced with our son, and bought plane tickets for us to join our family at Trevor’s funeral. If we were bitter and angry we would have missed the positive  moments that surround us.

Years later, we found out that the son we adopted had to be given back because the birth mother changed her mind. Again, we were heart broken. Minutes after the social worker took him we were wallowing in tears and a dear friend came to our home and cried with us. He didn’t just call. He didn’t just send a note.

He came to hug us when we needed it most.

The last story I will tell is when Lady Hiva’s brother died of suicide last year. We had just spent a week with him. We were on our way back home, half way around the world, and we were kicked off a plane that was “overbooked.” That could have been one of those bad moments. We were missing work and stuck in a city with nothing but our carry-on luggage. Then as we called our family to tell them, Lady Hiva’s brother told us what happened. Had we been on that flight, we would have been on the other side of the world when we found out and not able it to make it to family for days.

Examples could go on and on. We all have a quiver of battle stories we could share. BUT…We also have a stock of positive experiences, we just need to refocus our bitter blindness and detox that shattering poison so we recognize them.  Earlier I asked you all to think of a day you used to call a ‘bad day.’ My challenge now is to look back and see where that day was also positive. Where did you feel loved? Peace?

Did someone show they cared for you? Where is the silver lining?

 I am inviting you stop believing in bad days too.

It takes work. We know it is easier to be blinded by the bad. But a change of attitude is liberating. It is that fresh air we have desperately been seeking as we kick against the waves. It is usually enough to keep us afloat. Every day is a gift.

Dustin Bradshaw is a motivational speaker and the author of WHITE LILIES IN AUTUMN (link: You can follow him by reading the book or following him on the blog HERE

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