Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nothing lasts

There are many, many people that live unhappy lives.  They are unhappy with their work or their family or the choices they made yesterday or choices they made years ago.  Co-workers or kids acting up can be a drain on the life they are trying to live.

The good news is that nothing lasts.

Nothing is going to be the same as it was.  People and situations will change whether you do something or do nothing at all.  All those stressful things will pass.

Enjoying the good things in your life now is a good thing . . because nothing lasts.
Letting go of the stressful things now is a good thing . . . because nothing lasts.
Doing the right thing while you have the chance is a good thing . . because nothing lasts.

Making today a good day, right here, right now is the best thing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Who are you?

Start small; what would you want to be on your headstone?

"Beloved Spouse"?
"A Friend to All"?
“Devoted Wife and Loving Mother”?
“Wonderful father and faithful to the end”?

A little harder now; what would you want in your obituary?

Would it be a standard "So-and-so was survived by so-and-so and dies after short illness,"?  Or would it be more about your life?  What you had done?

Now for the big money question; what would your eulogy say about you?
Would your eulogy talk about your accomplishments?  Would it talk about the people you touched? 

Are you who you want to be?  What's stopping you?

A good life is made up of good days.  And good days only happen if you are doing what you want to be doing.  They only happen if you are doing what you were meant to be doing.

I want "Today is a good day" to be the theme of my headstone, my obituary, and eulogy.  My sister's funeral is my standard for "horrible, terrible, very bad days" it was also a time to remember wonderful things about her.  I can only hope that my life, well lived, will lead to a celebration at my death.  I want people to talk about how I made days better for other people.

Who are you?  How will you be remembered?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reward yourself.

Small successes can make for a good day.  It's great if those small success are recognized by our friends or co-workers, or supervisors but that doesn't always happen.  Rewarding yourself is always a winning plan.

I have a large yard.  It can take hours to mow.  I've implemented a system whereby, based on outside temperature and grass length, I get beer tokens that I can cash in for adult beverages.

[Granted, I really enjoy mowing the lawn most days.  It gives me a repetitive task that requires little thought itself where I can either think about things or think about nothing.  It's two to three hours of good day in any case.]

If you don't have your dream job, if you are just marking time until something better comes along, you probably need something to keep you going more than a paycheck in two weeks.  So perhaps a stash of chocolate should be part of your make-today-a-good-day-by-rewarding-myself kit.

You should know where the closest craft store is if that's what makes you happy so you can pop in and get some scrap-booking thing.  Or maybe you need to keep a Starbucks or iTunes or Amazon gift card charged and ready for when you deserve a reward.

If exercise or napping is what you love to do reward yourself with time for either when you deserve it . . because you deserve it.

Go ahead.  Reward yourself.  Make today a good day.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Water. Electricity.

Everyone reading this has fresh water and electricity.  Stop for a second and think about that.  You can shower or drink whenever you want.  You have lights at any hour you want.  Those things should be able to make today a good day.

In undeveloped countries and here in the US millions of hours are spent getting water.  Water that can likely make you sick . .  but it's better than nothing.

When you day is horrendous and you can't think of one good thing . . remember that you were able to brush your teeth this morning; remember you could turn on a light in your kitchen to make your coffee. 

Consider for a moment that the poor in developed countries would be considered rich in under-developed ones.


Monday, August 29, 2011

LOL. Really? Really!

The other day I was in a chat room and someone posted a link to some video.  My two office mates both watched it and typed "lol".  The secret though?  I was four feet away from both and didn't hear a peep.

Me?  I watched the video and typed "lqtm".  "Laughing quietly to myself".

I rarely laugh out loud.  When I do, it's often a short, quiet laugh barely noticed by anyone, even myself.

I realize that when I do, I feel better.

I need to laugh more.  I need to laugh long and hard.  I need to show a physical manifestation of the joy I feel so that I can spread it around.

"A good time to laugh is any time you can."  ~Linda Ellerbee, Journalist, Nick News

"Laughter is an instant vacation."  ~ Milton Berle, Comedian

"With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die."  ~Abraham Lincoln, President and tall guy

Want to have a good day?  Laugh.  Laugh out loud.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Can you be "whelmed"?

A person can be underwhelmed by something . . and overwhelmed by others.  I wonder though, if someone can be in a perfect state of bliss  . . and be "whelmed"?

I don't know anyone that goes through a week without being overwhelmed.  I  know people that cannot go through a day without overwhelmed.  It seems sometimes that our way of life is designed to keep us right on the wrong edge of the overwhelmed line.  Being overwhelmed can make it hard to have a good day.

One way to try to make an overwhelming day better is to break overwhelming things into smaller  . . manageable pieces.

Chocolate also helps.
Going outside helps.
Laughter helps.
Rest helps.

Now . . having done all that you are likely further behind.  Time to catch up.

Make a list of what you can reasonably get done.  Whatever doesn't fit on that list put on another to be done later.  If new tasks arrive put them on one of the two lists.   If it has to go on today's list . . take something off and put it on the other.

If these tasks are given to you by someone else . . tell them what you are doing and why.  Get them to help you prioritize.

If these tasks were assigned to you by you . . give yourself a break.   Your life is pretty short and getting shorter all the time.

Now is a good time to go to your happy place and finally feel "whelmed" . . before you go under.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dirt. Grass. Sky.

If you want to make today a good day you should spend time with dirt, grass, or sky.  Spend time with all three for extra bonus points.

Our lives are so busy these days.  It seems like there is always something dragging us to do some other thing.

Spending time with dirt, grass, or sky requires us to take a minute and slow down.

Start your day walking barefoot somewhere where your feet can feel something soft.  You will be spending most of your day in shoes walking on hard surfaces.  Give your feet a break.  See how high up your body you can feel the grass as you walk.  Try to sink down into the earth as you move.

Take a look at the sky.  Sunrise, sunset.  Clouds.  Color.   Feel the wind and smell the smells.  Listen for trees rustling in the wind.

Good day don't have to me wonderful, magnificent things.  They can be have dirt . . . and grass . . and sky.  Then again, those can be magnificent, wonderful things too.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Just do it!

Doing things that are hard can make a day a good one.

I remember my first two-wheeler.  It was red with a long, silver banana seat.  It had solid, rubber tires and it felt huge.  I loved that bike and it scared the hell out of me. At some point my father decided that I didn't need training wheels and we spent "quality time" together with him pushing me, and me falling.  Over and over again.  Then . . again.
Much later, something magical happened.  I kept my balance and rode.  I've never stopped riding and loving the feeling of riding.

Twenty years later I taught myself to juggle and ride a unicycle.  I learned the same way; trying over and over.  Telling myself that I can catch one more ball than last time.  Or ride just a bit past where I fell the previous time.

I'm a husband.  I'm a father.

Think of something you wanted to do  . . . but couldn't.  Think of something that was hard . . but worth doing.
Focus for a minute on how you felt when you did that thing.  Hold it in your mind and remember how it felt.
That feeling; those thoughts made that moment part of a good day.

Are you doing anything hard in your life right now?  Is there something you should or could be doing?

Don't rob yourself of the opportunity of making today a good day by not doing anything.

Try to do something hard.
Try again.
Try again.
Try again.

Make today a good day.

Special people make for special days.

I can't imagine not having someone to share my life with.  I can't imagine coming home and being alone.
There was a time when I thought nothing of it.  I had weekends where I wouldn't speak to anyone.  Worse, I remember days when I'd find myself talking to myself and being surprised at the sound of my voice.

I remember a time when I thought I was totally alone; when I questioned whether anyone even existed.

Now I know better.  I know that without someone (or even something) to share the highs and lows of my life with it is meaningless.  And I do not believe that I was put here with no purpose or meaning.

I have a wife.  Spending time with here has been the best choice I have ever made.  Almost every good day that has happened to me since I met her has been related to her.  She is a joy to me.

Do you want to have a good day?  Find someone to share your life with.  Find someone that will share their life with you.  Start small if you have to, maybe a cat or dog.  Perhaps you'd feel more comfortable with a family member and Facebook.

It doesn't matter how you start.  It matter THAT you start.  It matters that you go out and share every day.

Do you want to have a good day?  Open yourself and share who you are.

[Also . . get a wife.  Wives are amazing and I cannot recommend them enough. (mine is taken though . . find your own.)]

Change how you think.

My eleven year old daughter told her eight year-old sister the other day at the grocery store that times were tough.  The youngest wanted some super-sugared tasty treat that cost way too much.  Yes, it made me sad because the budget really didn't allow anything extra.

It's interesting to me though how some people handle that sort of thing.

Some people make do with what they have.  The grit their teeth, tighten their belts, buckle down, and get the job done.  They plod through the difficult times hoping for some thing to get better some day.

And then there are the people that make the best of things.  The ones that look on the bright side.  The ones that make lemonade out of lemons, smoothies out of old bananas, and casserole out of leftovers.

It's amazing how outlook can make a difference.  "Making do" and "making the best of" seem so similar on first glance but are worlds apart when it comes to effect (and affect).

Today is the best day you are going to get today . . make the best of it.  Make it the best day you can.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"I scream, you scream"

Christopher Poost
We all screem for ice cream.

Or maybe for Italian ices, gelatos, sorbets, sherberts, sno-cones, Hawaiian shaved ice, dippin' dots, frozen yogurt, frozen tofu or coconut, or popsicle.  It doesn't matter too much what your favorite style of frozen dessert is, there is likely one that you like.

Frozen desserts can make today a good day.

If possible, find a stand that sells such things.  Sit and watch the world go passed.  See the kids go through napkins and spill scoops and have faces covered in goo.  If there's no stand, a grocery will do.  But buy enough for a few friends and invite them over to share.  Frozen desserts are better with friends.

Here is one of my favorite frozen desserts:

Strawberry Frozen Salad Klinger Classics
1 8oz cream cheese, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 lg. can pineapple tidbits, drain
10oz pkg. frozen strawberries
1 cup chopped nuts
2 bananas sliced
1 large cool whip
Beat cream cheese and sugar together.  Mix remaining ingredients with cheese mixture.  Spoon into loaf pan and freeze overnight.  Keeps 46 weeks in the freezer.

Have a scoop or two . . and make today a good day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pre-catastrophic priority evaluation

What would happen if you found out you were going to die this year?  What would happen if you found that a loved one was going to die this year?  Few people want to think about it.

Today might be a good day to think about it though; a good day to think about how you spend your day and whether it has value to you.

Imagine all the people you would have to talk to.  Imagine all the things you'd want to do.  Take a moment and think about what you would want to share.

Do you have many friends?  Siblings?  Parents?  Relatives?  Teachers that changed your life?  Do you have children?

Waiting for a catastrophe to do these things (if you even got the chance) is risky.   It's risky to you and to the people you share your life with.

Today is a very good day to look at what you would do if you HAD to do something and start doing it.  Today is a good day to do a pre-catastrophic evaluation of your life and then act on what you come up with.

Oh.  And don't die. Please.  You'd be missed.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Being tired can make a person cranky.  It can make it hard for someone to see the good in anything or anyone.  It can make them want to yell at old people and kick puppies.

Sometimes, all that needs to happen to make a day better is to take a break and take a nap.  Find a quiet place and relax.  Ten minutes can make the difference between a career-ending meltdown and  world peace (at least for *your* world).

So, if you are feeling that you are losing control of your good day, go to your room (or your car, or shut the door of your office) and catch some Zzzz. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Go out and see the World

Doing the same thing, the same way every day can be a comfort.  It can also be a monotonous blockage preventing you from having a good day.

We live in amazing times.  Our ability to see places outside our neighborhood have never been so great.  And while the sameness of much of where we live can be overwhelming (or perhaps underwhelming).

Maybe today is a good day to do something different.

Today might be a good day to take a different route home from work.  Today might be a good day to go to a park you've never been to or a restaurant you've seen and wondered about but never gone in.  Today might be the day you finally find peace where you never were looking.

Today might be a good day to plan a trip to a far-away or not-so-far-away place.  Today might be a good day to get into your car and drive on a country road until you got to a small town with a square in the middle of it and a bed & breakfast nearby and spend the night.  Today might be the day you discover the best biscuit and gravy of your life or the person you are going to marry.

There is a world of adventure right outside your door if you will only go looking for it.

Look for it.
Make today a good day . . on the road.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Make yourself smile

Here's a trick to make your day better.  Take something pencil-like (a pencil works great) and hold it by the ends with your two hands.  Put it in your mouth like a bridle on a horse.  Go ahead and push it way to the back and up a little . . almost as if you were smiling.

You should feel happier; most people do.  Well . . do you?

What just happened was muscle memory.  Because your muscles are in that position when you smile, and you smile when you are happy, your brain has become "reverse-wired" to act happy when those muscles get "smiley".

Oftentimes, making today a good day is made up of little happinesses.  Let this be one of yours if you need a pick-me-up.

Also, watching your friends and co-workers perform this little experiment can make today better for anyone watching.  Have fun!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Working for the money?

Life is full of work.  You may be a student going to school, or a parent managing a household, or a you might be a worker in an office or a factory.  Any way you look at it, there you are . . working.

One way to make today a good day it to have a reason for working and to remember that reason as you go through your day. 

Making money is almost never the reason for working.  If you are a student, you might be going to school because you love learning.   If you are a homemaker you might be working to have a place that makes you and your family comfortable.  If you are a worker outside the home, maybe you have that dream vacation on the horizon or the you want to be able to buy that new patio set.

Having a good day isn't always about what you are doing today.  It can be about doing something today for tomorrow.  Spend some time today focused on the *why* you are working . . and make today a good day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Live life to the fullest

Making today a good day isn't about coasting along.  Making a today a good day is about doing things you love.  Making today a good day is about taking chances. Making today a good day is about DOING.
There once was a caterpillar
Who watched butterflies.
He said he didn't want yo fly.
But he lied.

One day he fell asleep.
When he awoke he could fly.
He soared with his wings
All over the garden.

Everyone now loved the butterfly
And he loved himself.

Not many weeks later
He flew higher than ever before
And was eaten by a bird.
Live your life as if you might not be here tomorrow to make that day a good day.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What may seem ordinary may not be.

Words are interesting things.  It seems that sometimes a word is used so often that we forget what it means.  Life van be that way too, making it harder to make today a good day.

"Extraordinary" is a good example.  If you break it apart you get "extra ordinary".  It's more than the usual, it's special.  The thing is though, that when you pay attention, what may seem ordinary really isn't.  It's more.  It's extraordinary.

Have you ever grown anything?  One day you have a seed, then you have a sprout, then you have a plant, then you have a fruit; finally you have a snack.  Magic.  Extraordinary.

Or perhaps you've watched a baby grow?  I love watching pregnant women and I love watching newborns.  I find it amazing that at first they can't even hold their heads up by themselves but soon they're crawling around putting everything they can find into their mouths.  Fantastic.  Again, extraordinary.

Your mission (should you accept it) is to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.  To look past what may seem hum-drum and see  the marvelous.  Your goal should be to become enthusiastic (root meaning: having God within)  about something and tell someone about it. 

Go out and make today a good day!

[Speaking of babies . .  is it any wonder that re-creation (making babies) and recreation (playing a game) are very much the same?]

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Good deeds are not just for Boy Scouts and Superman

Making today a good day is not just about noticing what makes a good day.  It's also about doing to *make* today a good day.  Doing something for others is a sure way of making today a good day.

Have you ever had a secret admirer? Have you ever had a secret love?  Have you ever participated in a secret Santa exchange?  Have you ever left hints to find a prize?
There is something powerful and joyful and exciting and rewarding in doing something good in secret.  The anticipation of how the recipient will react can be a thrill.  You imagine smiles and laughter or perhaps just surprised satisfaction when the secret is revealed.

Combining the doing of a "good deed" with a secret that can not be known can make a day a good one.

Do something nice for someone today.  Do something big or small.  Do something and never tell a single soul that it was you that did it.

I'll bet your day will be a better one  . . and so will theirs.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A list of good things at 9:30 in the morning

  • The sounds of birds
  • Waking up.
  • Having all my hair.
  • Being surrounded by family.
  • Having a sense of sight.
  • Colors.
  • Smells.
  • Pets.
  • Coffee.
  • Clean water.
  • Food.
  • Choices of food.
  • Music.
  • A voice.
  • Cool sheets.
  • A breeze.
  • Computers.
  • Home movies.
  • Cicadas.
  • Roses.
  • Clothing.
  • Asprin.
  • Pencils/paper.
What good things have you had so far today?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Being a part of something good is great

Being alone can be very peaceful.  It can be healthy.  It can make a day better.  More powerful though, it being a part of something . . . anything.

I've met a few recluses in my time; people that might have been called hermits if they weren't smack in the middle of a suburb; people that keep to themselves  more than most.
As I am a gregarious person, I've made efforts to engage these folks in conversation.  Sadly, I've concluded that, while they have some days that are better than others, they have fewer good days than they'd like to have.

Being a part of something makes most people feel better.  Being part of something good can make you feel great.

Take a moment to think of all the things you belong to.  It might be work or school.  You might belong to a church or a club.  It might be a neighborhood or an apartment complex.  Do you volunteer somewhere?  Do you play a sport?  Do you spend time with other people doing something together?

It doesn't always matter what group you are with to make today  a good day.  The thing that can transform belonging to a group into something "more" is recognizing that you belong.

Belonging makes today a good day.  Focus on belonging.  Focus on making other people feel that they belong.  Focus on making today a good day.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

You are what you eat

Food is amazing.  I love food.  The right food can make today a good day.

I'm a sucker for spicy-hot food.  Chocolate should be its own food group.  I think pizza is nature's most perfect food.  I don't think an unreasonable rule would be that peanut-butter or cheese should be served as part every meal.  Birthday cake.  Birthday cake, no matter the flavor, has got to be one of the greatest things ever.

Having food you love (not "good-for-you-food" or even "good food") should be a part of making every day better.  Make sure you are going out to that dive or that fancy-shmancy place now and again.

Perhaps, if your favorite food is turtle cheesecake or poutain, then it shouldn't be an every-day thing . . but it should be in regular rotation.

Having said all that; eating "good-for-you-food" *is* good food and will make you feel better.  Fresh food beats processed.  Home-cooked beats going out.

Lastly, doughnuts or cupcakes or what-have-you will likely make everyone's day better.  Think about it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

When life give you lemons . . .

There are times when life gets you down.  When it seems like it's just one more thing . . over and over again.
Then those people show up.  The ones that tell you to make lemonade out of the lemons in their life.  The full of "happy, happy; joy,,joy" people that make you want to strangle them.

These are good people doing good things.  Don't strangle them.

It’s first hour; Isabella is wearing a light pink jumper with a pink skirt and three or four petticoats. She vaguely resembles a Raggedy Ann doll gone mad with happiness. I walk into class....

“Hey Izzy, guess what I just heard on the radio while driving to school? President Bush launched a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. They say we have about 27 minutes until they retaliate. We are all going to die.”

“Good morning Aaron My cat had kittens last night about 8:30, right before bed. They are s-o-o-o cute! One is gray with white stripes and one is all gray. The others are...

“Izzy, don’t you understand? We are close enough to Topeka that we’ll be killed almost instantly!”

“Aaron, think of how lucky we are! We’ll die quickly. Think of all the poor people and pets that will die a slow lingering death. My, you have worn a plethora of nice clothes this week. It suits you.”

“I will say this very slowly, so that there will be no confusion. Life on Earth is about to come to a very abrupt halt. Every living thing on the planet will die. Now, do you understand why I’m a little excited?”

“I understand what you’re saying, but Aaron, you’re wrong. I read that rats and roaches will probably live through the catastrophe and evolution cart begin again with them: So what are you doing this weekend?”

“I don’t think I’ll be doing anything. I’ll be dead. And stop fluttering your hands in front of me. That really makes it hard to think.”

“Oh well, sorry. I can’t help it. I better do the journal entry now or else you won’t get credit on the paper due Monday.”


The whole time during this conversation Izzy has been spelling out her every word in sign language. It is one of her most infuriating habits. The scary thing is that when you hold her hands, so that they cannot move, she talks . . very . . slowly, as though she is spelling the words in her head. After a while I learn to ignore it. Then she’ll get upset or excited and put her hands directly in front of my face to make sure I understand. On the other hand (hah!), sometimes she’ll put them in front of her own face, maybe she is checking to make sure her fingers agree with her mouth.

Izzy is small, but like a rat terrier that thinks it is a Doberman, she exudes a feeling of fearlessness. When someone that knows her is told that she’s tiny they would first think about it for a while. Then, all of the sudden, their face would light up with surprise and they would walk away, as though it had been a revelation from God. She is so filled with energy; it seems that any person would need more body to contain so much activity.

Sometimes Izzy can make me very angry because she is so happy and I am not. She even does this on Monday mornings when no student has any right to be happy! Izzy has the gift to make me feel very good, no matter how bad I feel or want to feel. I especially like the way she sees the good side of everything, be it a bad weekend or nuclear holocaust.

This character sketch was an assignment given almost 25 years ago.  Some of those people may be alive because of it. Try to make lemonade out of the lemons . . . . and make today a good day.

*Names have been changed . . because it seemed like the thing to do.

**It has been republished twice (by me) since high school and the urge to edit it has been . . . powerful.  I believe in the end though, that Han shot first.  Period.  End of story.  Because of that, I've not revised it.  Thank you for understanding.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Being touchy can be a good thing

Skin makes up the biggest collection of cells that work together (an organ) in humans. For anyone keeping score, it is 12-15% of a person's weight.  It might be the organ most seen and interacted with when it comes to other people.

In addition to keeping all the other parts of us protected and in the right place it transmits the sense of touch.  That there is pretty powerful.

Touch can be amazing.  Touch can make a good day.

A firm hand-shake.  A pat on the back.  A massage.  A hug.  These can be day-changing touches.

The other day, my daughter had her hair washed by the hair-stylist.  She left the chair not showing me her (lovely) new do.  The first thing she told me was how good the shampoo was.  It made her day better.

Today is a good day to focus on touch to make someone's day a good day.

{Note:  When dealing with anyone . .make sure you are aware of the level of touch they find comfortable and work within that.  Law-suits do not typically make today a good day.}

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fear is the mind killer

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
-Frank Herbert, Dune
Too much?

Yeah, probably a bit heavy.   And yet . . .?

Reasonable fear is a good thing.  I tell my kids that most people are good but if you see someone walking towards you and you get that "oogy" feeling . . cross the street."

Fear can keep you from being happy though.  Fear of what might come prevents people from doing anything at all.

Fear can kill the buzz that is a good day if you let it.

Go ahead.  Be afraid if you have to.  But if you are going to be afraid at least commit whatever deed is making you afraid and live your life! Ride the roller coaster that, on cresting that first hill, looks down to what can only be instant death.  Scream in fear and joy and life.

Do you want to have a good day?  Don't fear what might happen.
Accept that "something" might happen and do your best to be alive as long as you can in spite of that fear.

When you accept fear and live your life, you make today a good day.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Save game!

Many computer games allow you to save your game.  You can then load these saved games to play later.  makes sense, right?

Another use of the save game is to mark your spot before you do something difficult so that, if you die, you can go back to a safe spot and try again differently.

There may be times in our lives when we wish we might have a "do over" or reload a saved game.

I've read that the brain reacts in the same way when you remember something as when you experience it for the first time.  So, in a way, we can have a part of that save game magic when we need help to make today a good day.

When something good happens in your life you should pay attention to it.  You should try to capture as much as you can about that moment.  You should "Save Game".  Those "saved games" can be part of your tool-box to be pulled out as needed.

Bad days don't have to be "Game Overs".  A readily available save game can mean today is a good day.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Let's get funky!

Funk is a great word.  I like the way it sounds.  In my head, it often sounds like Samuel Jackson is saying it.

I typically use it to describe a style of music.  Funk a blend of jazz and soul and R&B with a strong base line.  Think of the theme from Shaft by Isaac Hayes.  Yeah,  Get down with your bad self for a second. That is the good kind of funk. It lifts you up and can make today a good day.

Then . . there's another kind of funk.  The funk that indicates a state of depression.  That's the funk we want to avoid.  Getting into a funk can happen anywhere to anyone and be caused by almost any thing.  Once you are in a funk, getting out takes effort.

The thing is, that people that practice having a good day are less likely to get into a funk and have a set of tools that will help them get out.  When you have a good day routine, you have a built-in life preserver.

Listening to something funky (or almost any kind of music) can help get me out of a funk.  What you use might be totally different but now is a good time to figure out what that thing is.

[Full disclaimer: Something can also *smell* funky . . and that can cause your day not to be AS good but some Stevie Wonder should be able to fix you right up.]

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What do you live for?

"It's Friday!"
"It's the weekend!"
"It's payday!"

If you are saying these things over and over again you may be living life wrong.

Fridays, weekends, and paydays should be a time for different things that make you happy. If you are focusing on what is coming up, you are not focusing on the present and it's harder to make *today* good.

I love Fridays and weekends and pay-days as much as anyone.  They mean that I can do different things than on the normal work-week. I might have time to laze away or do projects or spend time with my friends and family.

Having days that allow me freedom do not make the other days, the work-week days worse. If your work-week days are that bad you can make each one better by looking for something that will bring you more happiness. Go ahead, start making tomorrow better . . today.

By focusing on the benefits of some other day in the future to the detriment of today, you are reinforcing your unhappiness or frustration.  You are making today a worse day.

Go ahead and enjoy your Fridays and your weekends and your pay-days but take a second and enjoy your Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays too.  These days make up a good chunk of your life.

Here is a fun practice activity; wish someone a "Happy Wednesday" (or similar greeting).  Enjoy the look of befuddlement and then happiness.  You may have just made today a good day for someone.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The lives of kids are made of Good Day stuff

Babies are cute and making babies is fun.  Thus, more babies are constantly being made.
They grow up and become toddlers, then kids, then teens and finally they move out as adults.

While they are little though, they are made of good day "stuff".  So much of their lives are filled with firsts.  From the time they can hold their heads up by themselves to their first romantic kiss and all the things in between make their lives a time filled with wonder.

Sadly, for some, life ceases to have many firsts after a certain age.  It ceases to have wonder.

To make today a good day, a sprinkling of wonderment might be useful. A little joyful exuberance here and there might make what has become ordinary extra-ordinary.

Looking through the day with the eyes of a child can make today a good day.  Planning some "firsts" again can make today a better day.

If there is a kid in your life, take some lessons.  Go play, have fun, show them that growing up isn't the end.  Show them that today is a good day.

Monday, July 18, 2011

One [whatever] at a time

There is a company in downtown Detroit that makes bagels.  There is a muralist painting murals there too.  They are not in the "nice" parts either.  These people are doing things where other people fear to go.  They are making Detroit better, one bagel or one mural at a time.

Making today a good day can be done the same way.  Find something small that you can do for yourself or for someone else and do it.  Then do it again.  And again.

Maybe you smile more.  Maybe you hold the door open for the person behind you.  Perhaps you whistle a happy song.

It's not critical what you do as long as it makes you happier.  Oftentimes it's just important that you do something.

Make today better one {whatever} at a time.  You'll end up with a good day.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reach out and touch someone

Sometimes the best part of our day may be making someone else's day better.

There is a tradition in my family of racing to the mailbox to see what new and magic thing has arrived. "What's in that box for me?" "Will there be a package?" "A letter?" "A pony?!?!"

Typically these days, it's bills or junk. The sense of potential is still present though. It's there because every once in a while the letter from an old friend or family member is in that magic box.

A phone call can do the same thing. There is magic in hearing the voice of a long-lost friend or a "just because I love you" call form a family member.

Today is a good day to write a letter to an old friend. Perhaps just a postcard if a letter is too big a commitment? Maybe a phone call or (sigh) even an email if that's all you can do.

Taking a little time to show someone you care lifts them up. It makes them feel special. It can also lift you up and confirm what was already known; you *are* special.

You can make today a good day.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

To Dream the Impossible Dream.

There are not enough quests in the world today. Most people do what they have to do to get by. They go to school or work and then they go home and eat and sleep. Time is spent with friends and family (and much time is spent alone). The world should have more quests.

Making a bucket list, a list of things you want to do before you die, is a good start at finding your quest. Do that. Do it now. Act on it. Start crossing things off.

My quest is smaller. It can also be shared.

My quest is to make today better; to make today a good day. To make today a good day for people around me. It's not a big quest like a quest to end pollution or make healthy food available for kids everywhere. It's a small quest with a big payoff some time after I'm gone.

My quest is an investment in the future for my children.

There's a fellowship formed around my quest. All are welcome to join.

Find a quest. Join this quest. Make today a good day. Make today better.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Listen for the good days.

How much attention do you pay to the sounds around you?

We're surrounded by sounds all the time. By spending some time really listening to what we are hearing we can make today a good day.

I wake up before the alarm and hear the birds outside my window. (this may not be a good day sound for you.) Then I hear my wife breathing and the rest of the house getting up.

I listen to music all day long when I work. Classical, funk, 80s love songs, rap, R&B, soul, gospel, metal . . . I'm all over the place. Music lifts me up though. It makes a day better every time.

At night I hear the sound of kids playing, winds blowing and all is well.

Make sure to listen to what you are hearing. Make sure to focus on the good sounds. Make sure to listen to the good days.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Jedi don't know everything . .but they know a lot.

"If once you start down the dark path, forever it will dominate your destiny . ."  -Yoda
Life is full of ups and downs.  It seems sometimes, that the downs are stronger and more powerful than the ups.  Don't be fooled into having a bad day by bad things.  Take some time and focus on the good things in your life.

Emotions feed into themselves and grow.  Getting frustrated or angry doesn't help make a day better.  Those things lead to more frustration and anger.  By choosing to let go of them or using the good things in your life as a foil you can move passed them.

Choose how you want to feel or how you don't want to feel or how you want your day to end and do something about it.
"You're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view" - Obi Wan Kenobi

 Choose your point-of-view and make today a good day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Resolve to have a good day (and other things too)

Forming a habit is a good thing to do.  It's hard work at first but then whatever it is happens like magic and something is missing if you don't do it.  A great way to form a habit is to make a resolution.  "Do X for Y weeks."

Resolving to have a good day might be too big a step to take, but resolving to think of two things that made today good is an achievable goal.  Perhaps it would help if to taping a note to a bathroom mirror or setting an alarm on a calendar to "Think of a good thing".

Even good habits; habits that make you feel good,can fall by the way-side. Sometimes, having accountability can help too.  Make sure when you resolve to do something to tell people what you are doing and why . . . because sometimes we all need a gentle reminder that "Today is a good day".

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Good Day Emergency kit

There are days that seem to be on track.  Life is all rainbows and unicorns. Then, one thing after another causes it to spiral towards a bad day; storm clouds and trolls.  Finding the good things in life isn't coming as easy as usual and it seems that nothing can be done.

Right then is when a "Good Day emergency kit" comes in handy.  A Good Day emergency kit might be a list of "standards" that always make you feel better but more than that, it's an exercise in finding good things to make a failing day better.

The basic rule of the Good Day emergency kit is to have enough variety of good things that when one of them isn't there (because it's part of the failing day) something else is there to lift it up.

For example, if your spouse is the most wonderful thing in the world and that spouse is part of the trend toward a bad day it's going to be harder to use them.  If the birth of your children is something you rely on to make each day better and they are sick, or screaming at you, or have run off with a clown . . . perhaps you need something else.  Something like your spouse.

Conversely, things are worse for other people elsewhere.  Being thankful that you don't have to walk for miles to get food or water; that you have a house, and bed, and food can be in your kit to remind you that today is a good day.

Now is a good time to build your kit. Stock it with variety of good things that you can go to when things get rough.  Stock it with enough good things that there will always be something to remind that the world is not ending . .and that today is a good day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Now is the moment

Where do you find peace during your day?  Do you have any time when you are alone with your thoughts?  Those may be what makes a good day.

There are always going to be distractions.  Even when you are doing one thing, another thing is interrupting it.  For many, their work practically demands the attempt at "multitasking" be made and if you have kids, it seems that there is always at least three things that need to be done RIGHT THIS SECOND.  It's hard to have a good day when attention is spent everywhere else but where you are.

Maybe now is a good time to take a breath and stop multitasking.  Now is a good time to do one thing.  To do it with attention.

Zen masters taught "Chop wood.  Carry water." Today they might say, "Mow lawns.  Wash floors." Or "Write code. Teach children."  What they meant was do this one thing well.

People may chant or pray or play or work or garden or what-have-you..  While doing whatever it is they do, though, they might practice doing just that.  Focus on what needs to be done.

Ask yourself: "Where am I?"  You should be here.

Ask yourself: "What time is it?" It should be now.

Be Here Now . . and have a good day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thank the helpers

Most days are good days.  Mornings though?  Mornings can be rough.  If mornings started closer to 10:00 instead of 6:00 they might be better, but they don't.  It's good then to have a little boost in the morning, a little something to get the day going right.

My wife is the first thing I think of in the morning.  She makes every morning better.  Soon after, I see my kids.  They are wonderful and can start the day off right.  Later I see the "bus stop people," my neighbors, and the day is well on its way to being a good one.

From then on, we're onto the daily interactions with co-workers, retailers, and the other folks that make up our days.  Each one has the potential to make today better and often do.

One way to make today a better day for yourself  is to be thankful for those people. Even better is to actually thank them for making your day better thus making thier day better.  You can expect to see confused smiles but don't worry too much  These smiles are wonderful things and help make everyday a good day.

Thanks.  Thanks for everything.  Thanks for helping make today a good day.

You gotta have faith

Having a good day doesn’t just happen every day.  It’s an active choice based on what’s going on around you.  Sometimes, just being aware that today could be a good one can carry you though most days.

Most days are not every day though.  Sometimes the days are extra hard and a little boost is required and that’s where faith comes in.  You may not need faith in a deity or religion (although it helps some people) and you may not need faith in your friends (although that contributes  too).  Some days, to have a good day, you have to have faith that it CAN be a good day.

More than being open to the possibility that today is a good day and more than looking for the good in today, starting out each morning with the expectation that today is going to be good can be the catalyst to making that day better.

Believing that this day will be better than a previous day predisposes us to look for  and see the things that make it better.  We’re already in a good day groove.

Today is a good day to practice being faithful.  Today is a good day to have a little faith. 

Death and good days

Death isn't something we might associate with having a good day.  Most people try not to think about their death or any death at all.  Death though, gives us an interesting perspective for many things; a good day is one.

How do you spend your typical day?  Would you spend it differently if you knew it was your last?  Would you do more to make this a good day?  Would you spend each day differently if you knew that you might die within the week?  The month?  The year?

Knowing that the end was coming would change how most people lived their lives.  Even people in pain might live their lives differently if they knew that there would be respite, a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

The thing is, that we all know the end is coming.  We just don't know when.  Thinking about our death or the death of a loved one or even focusing on the death of stranger from the news can help remind us how we are living now.

Someday, someone is going to write your eulogy.  Part of how we live each day should be to give that person plenty of opportunity to say good things about you and how you lived.

Remember that one of the best things about today is that you are here to live it.  Reminding ourselves and the people around can make today better.

Love the ones you're with

Our lives can be defined by the choices we make, and one of the choices we make is who we spend our days with. Our family, friends, co-workers, and consequential strangers surround us and contribute to whether we have good days or not.

Do you spend your time with people waiting for the weekends because they are unhappy about the weekday? Do you spend time with the Monday dreaders? Mr. or Ms. Living-for-payday? Or, are you lucky and hang out with “today is a good day” type people?

One way to making today a good day is to take what you are given and do what you can with it. Habitually telling an unhappy person why today is a good day; the little things and the big things, can change their outlook and their behavior. It can make new, unthought-of pathways to happiness. Just like exercising is easier with a partner, so is making today a good day.

Make lots of partnerships. Make partnerships with the happy people that improve your day and with the grumpy people around you so their day can be improved.

Take some time and notice the people around you. Take some time and give them a little love. Love the ones you’re with.

Having a good day and making a good day

Some people are born rich.  Some people are born beautiful.  Some people are born and it seems everything  goes their way.

Most people are not those people.

Most people go about their lives doing whatever it is they do with whatever it is they have to work with.  They get by well enough to continue getting by.

Some of those people wail and wallow about not having that perfect life.  They wish for this or that and always want more.

Then, there are people that take what they are given and make the most of it.  They find joy in the job they have. They spend time with the people around them trying to do good.  They look at what joy there is in their lives and make it a good day.

No matter how perfect those first people's lives might seem, they are no better than your life; if you make it so.

"Look to this day:
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
And today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day"

Don't spend your time looking for that perfect day or that perfect life.  Make today a good day by looking for and finding the little things that will make it so.  Then, tell someone.

Life's little hassles

Weather.  Commutes.  Jobs.  Kids.

These are things I hear people complain about the most.  They may not complain about them all the time or with significant vehemence, but there they are.  Like the flour or the sugar or the milk or the eggs; these seem to be the staples that prevent folks from having a good day.

I think though, that when people look at their personal history of the weather, or their job, or their commute, or their kids; they find that the weather has not been all that bad, and their commute gives them time to think, and their jobs bring them satisfaction, and their kids are pretty great little people.

In the course of our lives, even though the negatives seem to stick, we need to remember that they don’t last.  We need to remember that there is good in those negatives.  We need to remember that those negatives don’t last either. 

In the end, they really aren’t that big a deal.

If you ever want to play an interesting game, try this.  For one week, write down all the things that you complain about.  After the week, put those complaints in an envelope.  Put that envelope away for two months (a tiny percentage of your life).  Open it again and see how many of those things matter.

Was it really worth complaining about them at all?

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Do you have a favorite cashier at the grocery store or the post office or your regular lunch joint?  I do.  Do you go to a coffee shop a bit out of the way because you feel more "at home" there?

I have a vague idea of the schedules of the "consequential strangers" in my life; the people that are just sort of there and maybe not noticed much until they are not there.  I tend to do what I need done when they are working.  I didn't start off doing this as a planned thing; it happened over time.  When I finally noticed what I was doing, I tried to figure out the "why them" of it.

Simply enough, they seemed happy.  They were doing their job with a smile.  They were invested in me while I was with them.  They were helping to make today a good day.  I find myself responding in kind.  Then I find that it carries over to the next person I encounter.  I'm making someone's day better.

As we go about our day it makes sense to notice the interactions we're having with our family, our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers and all the other people in our neighborhood.  We should take a little effort and try to make their lives better by being invested in them.  By making their day a better day, ours is more likely to be a good day.

Counting the days

How many good things have happened so far today?
How many days in a row have been mostly good days?
How many people have you told today was good day?

It seems to be human nature to recall the bad events more than the good ones.  Looking back, maybe it seems like all it did was rain last month.  Or maybe the arguments with you spouse stick out in your mind more than the times of quiet love.

We don't need to have one of those signs they have in factories counting good days.  We don't have to be that precise.  We should though, be mindful about our good days.  Just being mindful of the past can make the present better.

(Having a sign couldn't hurt though.)

Now is a good time to make today a good day

Making today a good day isn't something you can do right before bed: when you give the day a score and pack it away. 
Making today a good day is about being where you are; being here, in the now, recognizing that you are making the day a good day.

Not every moment of every day is going to be great.  Most will be average.  Some moment will be frustrating.  Some moments may make you sad or angry.  The goal is to recognize and accept and not wallow in those moments.  The goal is to not get into a loop where those moments ruin a day.  The goal is to make the average day, "good"

An amazing by-product of practicing making today a good day is that you will notice more good moments.  Your average  moments will be better than many others.  Your frustrating, sad, angry moments will be balanced with the knowledge that they aren't the only thing that makes up your life.

Mondays aren't all bad all the time.

Many people dread Monday.  Maybe they miss the freedom of the weekend or the drudgery of their work is overwhelming.  Perhaps they don't get to spend as much time with family as they'd like.

Some people even start dreading Mondays on Sunday.  They "pre-order" dread or borrow worry from the future.

For some people, those who don't like what they are doing, Mondays really are something to dread.  Perhaps it's the job they took to just pay the bills while they go to school.  Or maybe they were out of work and took something; anything, to feed their kids.

There are other people though, that, in the same situation, make the best of it and make it better.  They improve their day because they invest goodness into it.  It may be that they "may as well make the best of it" or it may be that they have a calling.

Remember though, Mondays are just different from the weekends; not better or worse; different . . and they don't need to be dreaded.

If you are predisposed to dread Mondays, take a minute to think of your worst Monday for the last year.  Barring catastrophe, did they end up being so very terrible? Was more that 50% of the day so bad that it spoiled the whole day?  Was it worth feeding into the dread?

What if you spent that same amount of dread energy looking at the good things about Monday? What if you spent some energy making Monday better for yourself and the people around you?

I'll bet you'd make today a good day.

Good days are made of small happineses

Our lives are not one thing.  They are made up of this and that.  The people we spend our days with, the jobs we do, the places we live  . . .  our lives are all made of smaller things. Days are the same way.

We don't need to spend time looking for that perfect day and then regretting that it hasn't arrived.  We can enjoy the small good things that make up our day and cumulatively make it a good life. 

Days are not always "happy, happy; joy, joy" and expecting such will likely end in frustration. Recognizing the tiny good things that make up your day will make it better and make it easier to share.  Sharing your reasons for a good day is a small self-fulfilling act that passes it forward.

What tiny good thing happened for you today?  How did you share it?

The best day ever

I know a young lady who has a magic power when it comes to having a good day.  She'll tell you out of the blue that "today was the best day ever".

If you ask her why, she comes up with the most wonderful things that made it so.

One time she said, "because the sun was very shining," and another time "because I got to spend it with my family".  This last was amazing because it was delivered after hours being in the car with them.

I don't expect that adults can have "the best day ever" as often as a child can, but wouldn't it be wonderful if we could?

Today may or may not end up being your newest best day ever, but if you don't notice that it's a good day at all, it has much less chance.

Today is a good day to recognize what makes a good day or a great day or "the best day ever". 

A smile is a sign of a good day

Here's a super-secret hint to make today a good day:  Smile.

Look around as you go about your day.  Notice how many folks don't look like they are having a good day.

Catch their eye and give them a sincere (not crazy) smile.  There's a good chance they'll smile back and they'll hold on to that smile for a bit.  It's likely you will too. {Crazy smiles can work too . . but there are risks involved}

Here's another exercise, while you are doing this or that, smile.   You can be smiling all alone or in a group but, if you take a moment to remind yourself that you are where you are supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to do, you will be making today a good day.

A smile is a cheap, easy way to show that you are having a good day.  Give it a try.



Tell a friend (Or a stranger)

Having a good day is good for you.  It can make you smile or put a special bounce in your step.  "Good for you!"

It's internal though.  If no one sees your smile or your bounce; if no one knows about your good days then they end with you.

Spreading the joy increases the power of good days.  You can do more than just have a good day; you can be the reason for someone else's good day.

At some point during the day, you will have opportunities to tell people that you are having a good day and why. Take that opportunity and spread a little goodness. Everyone's day will be better and it will be ALL YOUR FAULT!

The effort is little, the pay-off can be huge. Make today better for someone else, make sure their today is a good day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Today is a Good day.

How many times have you heard someone ask "How's it going?"
And the response is (with a deep sigh), "It's Monday."
Or "Thank God it's Friday."
Or "At least it's payday"

For years I heard people answer that question with those answers or not even pay attention to the question and respond with an "OK" in passing. I actually found myself doing the same thing more often than not.

One day I realized that I was tired of the life I was leading myself into. I decided to answer those type of questions with real mindfulness.

I decided to be positive.

I started out by thinking about the things that were making my life less than it might be and I found that my life was pretty good. I have an awesome family. A job I love. Friends. Leisure time. Hobbies. I have a good life. The things in my days that were negative were fleeting.

After some introspection, I found that amongst time with family, time working, time sleeping, and general crappy-ness, most of my day was good. Very little was THAT bad. Most days are good days.
Then I made an internal scale of days. A great day is a day that has a child's birth. Another great day was my wife accepting my marriage proposal. The terrible day on my scale is the death of my little sister. She was born on my birthday and was the best gift I ever got or will ever get.

I know it's possible to have worse days. I'm sure mine can't compare with some. But that's my current scale.

So now, when people ask me how I am doing or a related question, I stop and think about the day so far. I think about my expectations for the rest of the day. I think about my scale. And I answer, "Today is a good day."

It's amazing how many people stop after hearing that response. Then they ask me why. It's easy to find something that made today good. Some days it may be that I woke up alive again. I have days like that too.

I've been doing this for a few months now. And I am hearing other people say it now. And I am seeing people smile when they say it; when they hear it.

The real point is that I am reminded by my own response every time I say it.

I believe that today is a good day.