This essay is part of a column called The Wisdom Project by David Allan, editorial director of CNN Features. The series is on applying to one's life the wisdom and philosophy found everywhere, from ancient texts to pop culture. You can follow David at @davidgallan. Don't miss another Wisdom Project column; subscribe here.
(CNN)What is your least favorite day of the week? And why?
The reason you should ask yourself these two questions is so you can fix that day. If you don't, it's just going to keep swinging around, week after week, hitting you in the back of the head like a circadian tether ball you aren't ducking.
In various studies, surveys and most importantly our own experience, we find reasons to dread certain days of the week. Suicides in the US peak on Mondays. Two surveys in the UK found Tuesday is the most stressful day of the week. Research, which analyzed blog posts published from day to day, found Wednesdays were the least happy in terms of the language writers used. "Thursday is perhaps the worst day of the week. It's nothing in itself," wrote author Nicci French, "It just reminds you that the week has been going on too long." Friday is the most dangerous day to commute to work, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Saturdays can feel more lonely than fun, we can probably all relate to, if your activities don't match your expectations. And those Sunday blahs you feel as you anticipate Monday, are clinically real.
But we can transform our least favorite days, eventually hacking the whole week until we reach the Zen-like Pooh-state of enlightened consciousness captured by A.A. Milne in "The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh":
"What day is it?" asked Pooh.
"It's today," squeaked Piglet.
"My favorite day," said Pooh.
The three-part solution to your weekly nadir is to
- understand and combat factors that make your least favorite day so terrible
- reframe that day in a different context, and
- insert at least one activity you love into that day as a weekly routine
Pinpoint the pain
The first part requires getting granular and specific about where the pain points lie. It's not enough to say you hate Mondays because you have to go back to work. What is it about Mondays at work specifically you don't like? Is it a person you work with? Your commute? A stressful or loathsome task you have to perform that day?
If you hate your job in general and Monday simply means the start of five days of it, try to get specific about what in the day causes your heartburn.
A more detailed and subjective understanding about what puts one day at the bottom of the list, is valuable. Then you can work on eliminating that pain point, or reduce it, make it more enjoyable, or counteract by following it with activity that brings joy.
Reframe the week
Next, try to reframe how you think of your least favorite day. Consider Mondays the January of the week, a new start in which you resolve to do better. Tuesdays -- basically a second Monday without the usual defenses built up to face the workweek -- should be seized as an opportunity to infuse fun on an otherwise lackluster day. Lean into "hump day" and tackle your to-do list on Wednesdays before you start the return journey back to the weekend. Thursday -- the legally designated day for Thanksgiving -- can be a weekly reminder to be more grateful. Friday is about celebrating the end of the wo