It was a beautiful August morning in Cairns, Australia, and I had a plan.
I’d be spending the day at a street festival downtown with my camera, eating some overly-expensive food and photographing the festivities. As always, I scarfed down some breakfast, brushed my teeth, got dressed, and went to grab my camera bag.
There was only one problem . . . the bag wasn’t there.
I checked inside my locker, under the couch, and everywhere else I could think of for 6 hours . . . no luck. The search continued for several days. After what felt like an eternity of searching and stressing, I eventually had no choice but to accept defeat. All of my camera gear (Nikon D3400, 3 lenses, 2 memory cards, 2 batteries, and 2 months-worth of photos that I lazily never got around to uploading) was gone.
To this day, I don’t know if it was stolen, or if I just flat-out left it somewhere. I’m hesitant to point the finger at theft, because I’m quite possibly the most forgetful human alive. As sick as it makes me, it’s a legitimate possibility that I just left it on the ground somewhere while exploring the city at night. I know that sounds insane, but trust me . . . I’ve done worse.
So what do we do when we have a terrible day like this while traveling, or in life in general?
Today, I’d like to share the process I personally use while going through hardships like this one, as well as the exact plan I’m implementing to turn this shitty loss into as much of a win as possible. Here are 4 things to remind yourself on a bad day.
1. Check Your Mindset
In my opinion, one of the biggest keys to lifelong happiness is developing a mindset of viewing every unfortunate situation as an opportunity to become a more seasoned, well-rounded human being. It doesn’t matter how big or small an obstacle is – as long as it tests you in some way, you can learn a lesson from it, and come out stronger.
2. Turn on the News
Yup, that’s pretty much all you need to do these days. If you’re reading this right now, it means your life is pretty damn good. It’s absurd how easy it is for us to forget how privileged we are, and whine about things as insignificant as losing one of our fancy toys. You really can’t remind yourself this enough.
3. Embrace the Success Story
Who here watches BoJack Horseman on Netflix? Well, there’s one specifically-great episode that changed the way I handle bad days. I’ll do my best to summarize it:
In this episode (S4E9), we follow one of the main characters, Princess Carolyn, during the worst day of her life. Basically, every single thing that could possibly go wrong for her, does.
What makes this episode different is that it’s narrated by Princess Carolyn’s future great-great-great-granddaughter, who hasn’t been born yet in the show’s timeline.
For the entire episode, we don’t know why this girl from the future is narrating. But, in the final seconds, we find out as she explains to Bojack:
To get through her bad days, she imagines her great-great-great-granddaughter telling the story of how her great-great-great grandmother persevered through countless challenges in life to become happy and successful beyond a level she ever thought possible.
I absolutely LOVE this idea by the writers of the show. It’s such an insightful way to take bad days in stride, and maintain your vision of the big picture.
4. Make a Gameplan
It’s easy to feel bad for yourself during down times, and that’s OK- we’ve all been there. What truly matters is that we find the discipline inside ourselves to put our foot down, and lay out a gameplan for how we’re going to learn from this punch in the face and move forward a tougher, more resilient human being.
Here’s the gameplan I laid out once I realized my photography gear was gone. While reading these, think about how you can use these principles to create your own.
1. Take the time I normally spent shooting photos, and reallocate it to another project.
This is huge. I’m very lucky that I already had this whole website/blog project on the backburner, because it was super easy to jump right into it and turn that negative energy into productivity. 2 months later, I can say with confidence that if I hadn’t lost my camera, this website would not exist today.
2. Turn my lost photos into a scavenger hunt.
Like I said earlier, I lost a BUNCH of photos that I was extremely excited to share, due to my laziness of not uploading them when I had the chance. This included my awesome Fitzroy Island trip, where I got some great shots of a pod of whales breaching and frolicking around our boat, the beautiful coral beach, tons of super cool birds, turtles, snakes, etc . . . 🙁
SO, I made a list of all of the exact photos I remember being the most stoked about, and vowed right then and there to get even COOLER pictures of each of those things someday in the future. Now, I don’t see these photos as lost anymore . . . but as the inspiration for a lifelong scavenger hunt!
3. Try a completely new type of photography
When you already own one camera, it’s tough to rationalize buying a second one–especially when you’re living out of a suitcase like I am. So this was the perfect opportunity to give something completely new a try: film photography!
What makes this timing even more perfect is that I’ll be embarking on an Australian road trip with my parents very soon, so I can’t think of a better time to try something new. Plus, my mom just happens to LOVE decorating our house with wall art, so a set of photos from our family trip would be the perfect gift to send her home with.
Alright gang, that’s all I’ve got for now! I hope you’ve enjoyed my low-budget Tony Robbins impression.
If you have a unique way you like to process shitty life events, I’d love to hear it! Drop it in the comments so we can do our best to make the world a little happier.