I try hard to get a good night of sleep each night. It provides me with the energy I need to live, connect, and work.

But there are nights where that doesn’t happen.

Maybe I’m up late hanging out with friends.

Maybe I get sucked into a good book. “Just one more chapter and then I’ll go to bed. I promise.”

Or maybe my mind is too active – worrying about the next day or spinning over some problem – and I simply can’t fall asleep.

When that happens, the next day is miserable.

I sleep in later than I normally do and throw off my morning rituals. I skip my time of meditation. I pass over my freewriting. I don’t get a block of work in before breakfast. The day starts on the wrong foot. From the very beginning, I feel like I’m behind.

I feel terrible. My head pounds like there’s a little man inside with a hammer. All I want to do is go back to bed – to hide from it all beneath the sheets.

I can’t think. And since my line of work revolves around thinking, the work day is a labor. I’m inefficient and ineffective. Simple tasks exhaust me.

But most of all, I become more pessimistic. The things that go wrong gain in significance. I worry. I get frustrated. I become hopeless. Small annoyances bug me more than they ought to.

If you were to ask me how life is going, I’d tell you about all the struggles. I’d tell you about how nothing goes right. And I wouldn’t tell you about all of the blessings I have to celebrate and be grateful for – things like family, food, community, meaningful work, sunny skies, and hot bourbon chai.

Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes everything goes according to plan. You’re riding the top of the wave. Life is good. You’re happy. Other times though, circumstances conspire, and you’re down in a trough of challenge and difficulty.

In such days it’s tempting to measure your whole life through the lens of the struggle. But that isn’t usually helpful.

Instead, try widening your perspective. See the overarching flow of weeks, months, and even years. Yes, there is much to be thankful for. Yes, there is much to celebrate. Yes, your path is taking you closer to where you want to go and the person you want to be.

Use that broader perspective to get through the day. Use it as you move through the difficulty, as you face the individual hurdles and challenges.

And if you’re anything like me, after a few nights of great sleep, things may just start looking brighter again.

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2 Comments, Add Yours Below

  1. Tom Avrutis on December 20, 2013

    Your writing reminds me of that old quote from Vince Lombardi , “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

    The lens of fatigue oddly makes something good look bad. I always figure the good thing about a bad nights sleep is the good nights sleep that about always comes the next night. Tom

    • I suppose the other good thing is that it reminds you just how important sleep really is. Maybe I’ll learn that lesson one of these days. ;)

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