MANDY FLYNN: Bad days all in the mind

Mandy Flynn

Mandy Flynn

It was one of those days. Not really bad, exactly, just mildly irritating … it was a Tuesday in early December and it was one of those days. Mid-afternoon of my moderately bad day, I opened up my email and found someone had sent me an informative little gem containing these facts.

During his 20 years on Gunsmoke, Matt Dillon was:

Shot in the Left Arm 18 times

Shot in the Left Shoulder 6 Times

Shot in the Left Side 4 Times

Shot in the Left Leg 1 Time

Shot in the Right Arm 5 Times

Shot in the Right Shoulder 1 Time

Shot in the Right Side 6 Times

Shot in Right Chest 3 Times

Shot in the Right Leg 4 Times

Shot with Head Grazes 3 Times - once causing a loss of memory and once temporary


Shot in the back 5 Times

Knocked out 29 Times

Stabbed 3 Times

And Poisoned Once

I’m not sure what the point of the email actually was, but it sure did its thing for me. If Matt Dillon (even though he was a fictional character on the radio and television and not really a real live person who faced death each day as U.S. Marshal of Dodge City, Kansas) could survive that much suffering, surely I could get through my modestly aggravating, mildly annoying bad day.

Mine started out by sleeping late, then ironing a shirt in haste and in the half dark only to put it on and realize two buttons were missing. That … after using body wash as shampoo and stabbing myself in the eye with a mascara brush. On the way to work I had to stop for gas and spilled some on my shoe. Then I slipped in my new shoes on the tile walking into the building and had to grab onto a complete stranger to keep from breaking my neck. The tone had been set for the day — it was going to be bad.

But according to Peter J. Bentley, a PhD who is a so-called expert on the science of bad days (who knew they were a science?) a bad day only exists if we allow it to. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As Bentley puts it, people who believe in bad luck will have more accidents. People who have a negative attitude will be more apt to have negative things happen to them. Subconciously, psychology suggests, these people use their attitudes as a way to avoid responsibility for their actions. Negative expectations, too, cause people to interpret things negatively rather than see the good.

I’ve known some pretty negative people in my life — they not only see the glass half-empty, it’s also dirty and has a crack in it.

It all made sense to me, this psychology of bad days. If I thought I was having a bad day, then I had no choice but to have a bad day. I wouldn’t allow myself to see the good in anything.

For instance, I could have been happy that I got a few extra minutes of sleep and my hair smelled especially springlike that day because I had used body wash instead of shampoo. And suddenly lurching forward as one foot slid out from under me, causing me to grab onto the lady walking beside me and hold on for dear life … that very well could be the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Never mind that this woman totally avoided eye contact with me and started walking twice as fast once she realized I was stable on my feet. Perhaps I should have said more to her than, “I promise, I’m not drunk,” as she helped me back on my feet. I think I scared her. It probably did not help that I smelled like gasoline and my eye was red from stabbing myself with the mascara brush.

Nonetheless, it is a new year. From this point forward, I refuse to have a bad day. Every day I wake up is a good one. I believe Matt Dillon (even though he was a fictional character on the radio and television and not really a real live person who faced death each day as U.S. Marshal of Dodge City, Kansas) had that attitude, as well. Every day was a good day.…

Unless it was one of the ones when he got shot, stabbed, or poisoned.

I think I’d call those one of those days.

Email Mandy Flynn at flyn1862@bellsouth.net.