‘I don’t like Mondays.’ Tell me why, because you’re wrong

By David G. Allan

Monday gets a bad rap. We love to hate it, but secretly we may just love it. It’s the start of a stressful week but it’s also the start of your new and better self.

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This is part 1 in an 7-part series on the meaning, facts, pop culture and inspiration contained within the history and psychology of each day of the week.
Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday| Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Common symptoms of having a case of the Mondays include: general grumpiness, making mistakes, bad traffic on the way to work, forgetting that thing you needed to bring with you, work or school itself, and possessions deciding to break for no reason. Acute cases of the Mondays may include feelings of dread, terrible news at work and a flat tire on your commute … in the rain.

Except for maybe the Sunday “blahs” (an early symptom of contracting full-blown Mondays) no other day of the week carries with it the stigma of a medical condition. We hate Mondays because if it never came we could enjoy the weekend forever.

It may be that the day’s dark power extends even beyond the bleak start of the long, cold workweek winter. If the moon can have a gravitational effect on Earth’s tides — and some believe even our brains (hence the word “lunacy”) — why shouldn’t moon-day (or Monday; in Spanish: Lunes) also possess a mysterious power over our fate?

Clearly, as many musicians have pointed out, bad things happen more often on Mondays.

“Monday, Monday,” wailed the Mamas and the Papas in their jeremiad of the same name. “Can’t trust that day. Every other day of the week is fine, yeah. But whenever Monday comes … you can find me cryin´ all of the time.”

“It’s just another manic Monday,” pouted the Bangles in a song actually written by Prince, “I wish it was Sunday.” Karen Carpenter told us that rainy days and Mondays always get her down.

The title the Boomtown Rats’ “I don’t like Mondays” was lifted by Bob Geldof from a news report in 1979 in which 16-year old Brenda Ann Spencer fired her gun at children in an elementary school playground in San Diego, California, killing two adults and injuring eight children and a police officer. “I don’t like Mondays,” she said, explaining her nihilistic murder spree to a reporter. “This livens up the day.”

There are more empirical reasons not to like this deleterious day. Suicides in the US peak on Mondays. And a study in the UK says you’re more likely to get your cell phone stolen on this day. For many years you were more likely to die from a heart attack on a Monday, but that’s no longer true, and researchers theorize the fact that you’re always working now — thanks a lot, internet — may have something to do with it. It’s always Monday now.

No wonder Garfield just doesn’t “do” them. If I were a lazy, lasagna-gobbling cat, I’d take a pass on this day of the week as well.

But what if Monday is actually the best day, in disguise?

There’s another way to look at Mondays. Yes, they mark the end of the weekend, but they are the start of another week.

Monday is the January of the week. Happy New Week! Don’t think of Monday as climbing back into the hamster wheel of drudgery and stress, but rather as hitting the reset button on whatever you’re trying to accomplish. Many of you already do.

Healthy choice queries (like “healthy diet” and “how do I quit smoking”) peaked on Mondays and Tuesdays, researchers found in a study titled “What’s the Healthiest Day?” published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, where they analyzed nearly eight years of Google searches.

“Poor health choices during the weekend may promote a desire to cleanse come Monday,” the authors hypothesized.

The psychology of starting the week off right is what’s behind initiatives such as Meatless Mondays, Move It Mondays and other Monday Campaigns — a public health initiative associated with Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Syracuse universities that encourages people to “commit to the healthy behaviors that can help end chronic preventable diseases” at the start of every week.

The most counterintuitive of Monday research is that most people may actually like the day, even if — like gossiping or junk food — we don’t admit to enjoying it.

Mondays were the second happiest day after Sundays according to the delightfully titled study, “Measuring the Happiness of Large-Scale Written Expression: Songs, Blogs, and Presidents.” Researchers at the University of Vermont analyzed millions of blog posts to quantify the happiest days between 2005 and 2009 by looking at the positive and negative words used. An earlier study found the notion of a “blue Monday” is a myth.

Of the 10 US federal holidays, six always fall on Mondays (one on a Thursday, three change every year). Same for bank holidays in the UK, which means there are less “Mondays” than most other days.

Conversely, if you love your job or look forward to going to your classes, you welcome the start of five straight days of it. (You just may not make any friends bragging about it.) There are even specific things you can do to like your job more, such as reframing more meaning into your responsibilities.
So, let the moon day glow upon us. Whether you’re renewing a resolution or loving your job, or enjoying a holiday off, celebrate the new week! Let them call it lunacy!

But no matter how you feel about Mondays, at least it is not as bad as that legitimately terrible day of the week: Tuesday (the subject of the next story in this series).

As for making Mondays better: Any day of the week holds the capacity to be your favorite. All it requires is taking control of it and bending it to your will, the subject of my story on hacking your week for CNN.com.

CNN’s Editorial Director of Features (Travel, Style, Wellness, Science), plus The Wisdom Project column. This account represents my personal views, not CNN’s.

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