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How to Improve from Bad to Better

Updated on May 12, 2017
MsDora profile image

MsDora's devotionals have been published in "A Cup of Comfort Devotional" and in her own publication "Monday Manna-a weekly devotional."

Easy come, easy go, but steady diligence pays off (Proverbs 13: 11 MSG).

The mistake we often make when we are in bad situations is that we try to make one step up from bad to better; but that is not feasible in the regular scheme of things. Here's why.

There is a step between bad and better
There is a step between bad and better | Source

On the rung of the progress ladder, there is a good step between bad and better. To stand on the bad step and call for better is like wanting to jump upward from the first floor to the third floor of a building without passing by the second. That jump will remain a fantasy; it will not happen.

Good is the link between bad and better, and until we can recognize and appreciate the good in our bad situation, we are not likely to reach better. Here are two examples:

  • A man’s wife abandons him and he becomes desperately lonely (that’s bad). He can invite the first gold digger who preys on his loneliness to share his bad life, and hope that her companionship will make his life better; or he can step up from bad to good by seeking healing for his emotional hurt and making himself ready for a better relationship.
  • An unemployed woman falls into a bad financial situation. She can borrow money in an attempt to make it better; or she can step up from bad to good by adjusting to a less expensive lifestyle, and in the process learn better saving habits.

The quick solution is likely to take the situation backward from bad to worse. The challenge is in finding and embracing a good perspective on the bad, then celebrating the good until it turns into better. There are three steps altogether.

Step One: Isolate the Bad

No situation is all bad. Identify the bad part, not to focus on it but to deactivate it so that it does not overwhelm and cripple the whole system—body and mind.

In the situation with the abandoned husband, an honest inward search might help him discover the specific factor that is threatening to change his life in a negative way.

The bad part may be his bruised ego—having to face the truth that his wife left him because she preferred someone else or because she felt unsatisfied in the relationship. He can prevent this bad from getting worse by reflecting on his contribution to his dilemma and getting help to remedy his faults; or by practicing humility, asking the wife’s forgiveness and working on reconciliation.

He may decide that the bad part is having unmet needs—physical, social or emotional. He faces the reality that his wife is not coming home, and he learns to shift his focus from satisfying to controlling his desires. Determining what’s bad makes it easier to prevent the bad from getting worse.

The Serenity Prayer sets the right attitude for people in all kinds of bad situation. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference” (Reinhold Niebuhr). When the bad falls into the category of “things I cannot change,” change the perspective and see the good in it.

There is always good view, no matter the situation.
There is always good view, no matter the situation. | Source

Step Two: Discover the Good in the Bad

No matter how dark and frustrating our situation might be, it is our responsibility to lay the foundation for better, by embracing the good in our circumstances. The preparation is a mental exercise which calls for faith and focus. It requires a sense of purpose. It is the most challenging in the self-help process from bad to better, and it is absolutely necessary.

Many people can identify with the woman in the bad financial situation. Rather than sit in the darkness dreaming of how much worse it can become, we can open the window and view the good in our circumstances. Here are five considerations to begin with:

  • (1) We have options on how to spend our morning hours: sleep in, catch up on our reading or writing, or begin the habit of an early morning walk.
  • (2) Our creativity surfaces and we discover new ways to live on a smaller budget because we are determined to survive.
  • (3) We have time to refresh the skills we have but never used on the job.
  • (4) We have the opportunity to pursue job positions better than those we left.
  • (5) Our circumstances may extract enough humility to have us ask for favors; in the process of relating our stories, we hear other people’s struggles and realize how blessed we are.

Good fortunes come with every new situation. When we embrace them, we develop gratitude and expectation. We learn to enjoy life as is. Our positive attitude and demeanor make us desirable, and we attract favors which strengthen our conviction that life is good. At that point, it makes sense to expect that a good life can become better.

Picture by Vera Kratochvil
Picture by Vera Kratochvil | Source

Step Three: Celebrate the Good

Pollyanna is the forever-happy character in the Eleanor H. Porter novel (1913) also named Pollyanna. When Pollyanna temporarily lost the use of her legs, she was unable to find the good in her bedridden situation. Only then, did the community let her know that her continual spirit of happiness had changed their lives positively. The good had gone unmentioned, causing Pollyanna to doubt whether she had done any good at all. When they spoke about it, they actually experienced it.

How many good things go unnoticed? How many good things happen to us which we never mention, let alone celebrate? We promote whatever we think about and share in our discussions with one another. When we talk about the good in our bad situations, we influence other people to do the same. We can only spread good so far, and for so long before it boomerangs; and it is a universal law that we reap more than what we sow. More good is better.


  • (1) Think of a bad situation in your life right now.
  • (2) Isolate the bad and devise a plan to disable it.
  • (3) Write five good factors which you can see in your bad situation.
  • (4) Think of three people with whom you can discuss the good.


The process from bad to better is helped or hindered by our personal perspective. We can choose to go through life physically crippled, emotionally drained, or spiritually confused because of one bad factor in a situation. Or we can isolate the bad factor, sabotage its influence and move forward, focusing on the good that remains. Appreciating and promoting the good eventually leads to better and beyond.


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    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Rachna, so glad you find my article useful. I also live with this attitude that my situation has to be good if it will get better. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Hope it helps, Alocsin. Not that I want you t encounter bad, but it happens to the best of us. Thanks for your votes.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I like this step-by-step approach. I'll to implement it the next time I encounter a bad situation. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for your kind comment, DDE. The ways mentioned works for me, and I believe they could for anyone.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Thanks for the helpful ideas and so true too. The ways mentioned is a must read by anyone.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Awesome hub MsDora! A fine reminder that all is never lost, that hope can still be found in a hopeless situation, we just need to look and analyse. I love the positivity of the thought as I'm a very positive person myself.

      voted up, useful, interesting and awesome. Sharing it too.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      CloudExplorer, thanks for sharing. I appreciate your encouraging input.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      RJ, thanks for your kind comment. The serenity prayer also does it for me. God bless you too.

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 5 years ago from New York City

      The way people choose to see things in their life definitely has a huge effect on them for sure. I've always used the positive reinforcing effect of thinking optimistic about everything.

      One time in my life I chose to look down the negative pathways to seeing life, but it rendered me into a state of bad moments, and so yes indeed your hub hits at the core of truth in how people bring themselves much more harm then good by their outlook on their own situation.

      Thanks MsDora for such a powerfully well presented, and well written self help article here, I think many people will benefit from reading it.

    • profile image

      RJ 5 years ago


      Thank you for your hub, it is so true at times we want a quick fix, but the serenity prayer sums it all up for me. Great job. I am following your kind advice. God bless.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Nikki, you made my day. Comments like yours encourages me. May God bless us both!

    • Nikki Major profile image

      Nikki Major 5 years ago

      MsDora...this article has been voted up, useful, beautiful and awesome. You are one of my favorite writers. You have amazing insight. God Bless you.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Gratitude has been the base from which many good things pushed off to better. Everymom, you're on your way. I prayed for you.

    • everymom profile image

      Anahi Pari-di-Monriva 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      MsDora, thank you! Poor words for a heart full of gratitude for your encouragement in saying "expect the good to progress to better!"

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Everymom, thanks for sharing the good in your bad situation. Your health, your friends, your students--and I bet you can keep counting if you focus--will be the anchors to pull you through if you celebrate them. Expect the good to progress to better.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Michele, thanks for your comment. So glad when someone finds my hub helpful. The Serenity Prayer is Right On!

    • everymom profile image

      Anahi Pari-di-Monriva 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you, Ms. Dora, for your advice. I have been stuck in a bad situation, financially, and it went from bad to worse, but I always see the good I have in my life (and when I don't see it, I'm reminded of it by the people with whom I share my story); if it weren't for the poor finances, I'd be the all-around richest person in the world! Even with the poor finances, though, I am the richest person in the world as I have many friends, fantastic students, and, generally, can say my child and I are happy and relatively healthy. Two out of three is actually quite good, wouldn't you say? Thanks for the reminder!

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      This is a very good hub. I bookmarked it if you don't mind. The steps you wrote are ones people can follow. I also love the Serenity Prayer.

      Thank you for writing this hub.

      God bless you.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Innerspin, thanks for your input. Glad to share with you, your love for the Serenity Prayer.

    • innerspin profile image

      Kim Kennedy 5 years ago from uk

      This is a really useful hub, with great advice on how to move forwards from a bad situation. There's always the temptation to go for a quick fix, but being more methodical provides longer lasting benefits. The Serenity Prayer is one of my favourite calming influences. I thank you for your advice.