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.