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José Benigno Freire, School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra

What are the bad days for?

Thu, 16 Apr 2020 12:46:00 +0000 Published in Heraldo de Aragón

It is inevitable that life will bring us hard times, bad days that, nevertheless, also offer us the opportunity to learn and mature.

If we were to apply a evaluation to this very broad concept of 'normal life', surely, in the long run, it would be relatively pleasant, gratifying. However, this life would inevitably go through difficult days or seasons, bad ones, as we usually say: upsets, worries, problems, sadness, failures, stress, heartbreaks, illnesses, pain.... Sometimes it even seems that difficulties are intertwined and we go through hard times. Whenever something like this happens, the existential answer is clear and categorical: to attack the status, to apply the remedy or the opportune solution. Everything else is just nonsense, fantasies. With this attitude we must act always and in everything: face reality decisively!

Evidently, by pure logic, this accurate attitude, in the internship, cannot be applied in all occasions. There are thorny or complex situations that need time to be solved; others become entrenched; sometimes the solution escapes our efforts and desire (it usually happens in conflicts where grudges, quarrels...), etc. In final, for one reason or another, bad days or seasons will inevitably appear. Law of life.

Because they are inevitable, it would be good for us to squeeze some juice out of them, instead of resigning ourselves to being embittered, distressed or disconsolate. Here is the question: how can we take advantage of these bad seasons? I propose some reflections gathered from other authors.

In the face of adverse situations, personal reactions cover the full range of psychology. The most frequent, and one of the most beneficial, is resignation. Resignation consists of resisting the unfavorable with stoicism. But resignation presents a weak point: it covers the daily events with a sort of existential parenthesis to focus on solving the adverse situations, and thus to be able to return to the habitual life; the rest of the activity of those days is circumvented as if on tiptoe. The Logotherapy (Viktor Frankl) calls this posture "attitude of existence provisional": we distance ourselves from today because we live pending of what we will live later, when the unfavorable status is fixed or disappears...

By focusing on resolving the negative - annoying - and moving away from the genuine everyday, we may not notice the small pleasant moments that appear in any bad day. Tagore expressed it beautifully: "If you cry for the sun at night, you will never see the stars". The night also hides its charms, charms that the sun does not have. We will only appreciate the sensation of infinity, the serene horizons, the seductive silence... if we are not overcome by the obsessive longing for the sun. People who have overcome an operation or serious illness explain it very well: I learned to enjoy the small moments; a walk down the hallway, a caress, sleeping without discomfort, going out into the street.... It consists of enjoying what is at hand, what is real, what is today. And sticking to reality is a sure criterion of maturity staff.

And another reflection of Lao Tse, one of the masters of the Chinese Philosophy : "What the caterpillar calls an end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly". Indeed, each and every circumstance in life - good or bad - calls for a response staff. Every moment of life is an invitation to react personally..... The response can be spirited or faint-hearted, tight or wild, suspicious or supportive, indolent or enthusiastic.... And this set of reactions, linked together, build the personality and write the biography.

But the invitation of adverse occasions has a great advantage: they shake the intimacy and almost force us to act. Either they bring us down, or they stir us up to grow from within. Seneca put it this way: "Life is a challenge for us test". And he explained it to his young disciples: when we know if a sailor is a sea dog, when he walks or rests on deck, when the sea is rough, no, in the storm, when the sea is rough, then we can see the courage and the skill of the sailor? When life tests us, then we demonstrate the integrity staff, resilience, the ability to turn caterpillars into butterflies ...! That is to say, to grow inside, to improve as people. Psychological wisdom that our grandmothers already knew in the form of the saying: "Every cloud has a silver lining".

It is a real shame but, nowadays, this language of the mature personality is not attractive, seductive. Developed societies suffer from an asphyxia of wellbeing that blinds us to appreciate the tones of intimacy: we live gawking at the brightness of the image we project, in spite of the artifice of Instagram filters... Although, inevitably, at some point, we stumble upon the rocky reality of the laws of life: peaceful times and unpeaceful times; times of rough seas and conference with rough seas... That is why, when life finds us test, it would be good that it finds us firm and solid, serene? without filters!