Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Tomorrow is a do-over

I tried.
All day long I tried.
I smiled, I laughed, I focused on doing good for others.
I thought of all the people that don't have the blessings I have.
I really tried.

Today was not a good day though.
Today, in fact, was horrible.

I was late for things.
People were grumpy.
The weather was crappy.

My friends weren't friendly.
My pet didn't love me.
Nothing worked the way it was supposed to.

I want a do-over.
I need a do-over

There is a way to HAVE a do-over.
It's called "tomorrow".

There are no guarantees that tomorrow will be better than today but there IS the opportunity for a good day.  
When today overwhelms you remember that it's just one day.  One of many in your life. 
Try to let today go and move on to tomorrow.  It's ready and waiting for you!

Friday, December 8, 2017

I have accomplished much today

"I have accomplished much today"

Recently, I found myself answering with this response when asked how my day is going.
It's funny (to me) because while I try to make a mindful response, I don't always know what's going to come out of my mouth and the first time I said that . . . I was surprised.

It wasn't that I surprised by what I said exactly, because when asked, I did a mental run-down of my day and I actually had done a lot of stuff.  None of it was huge and life changing.  Most of it was what some would classify as the day-to-day drudgery of suburban life.  The point was though, that I had done things.  I had started and finished.

I love the feeling of completing a big project; giving myself the mental high-five knowing that I DID THAT!  I understand though that most days are not full of those sorts of projects.  They are full of going to work and doing laundry and driving the kids where they need to go.  That's OK though.  Those types of things need to be done and doing them is important.

It's important to remember that good days are not always BIG days.  They are sometimes little days filled with little things.

It's not always easy to do those little things though.  The days can be long and weigh on you. Sometimes doing anything seems like too much work.  It's those days where you might have to not focus on what you didn't do and focus on what you did.  "I got out of bed."  "I went to work (and did things)."

The truth is that you probably accomplished much today.  And tomorrow you will have the opportunity to try again.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Borrowing Worry

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. ~Leo Buscaglia

The future is such an unknown.  Starting from the next moment until the moment of death an infinite number of things can happen in our lives.

Some paths are ones you make:

  • Do you take this route or that route to your next appointment?  
  • Do you take this job or that one?  
  • Do you make this goal a priority or that one?  

Other paths are outside of your control but can affect you just as much  . .  . or more.

A sure-fire way to ruin a good day though, is to borrow worry from those possible futures.  Worry is a very real thing.  It can weigh you down and make it hard to function.  Worrying about all the possible "mights" is a poor investment.  The pay-off for borrowing worry from the future is just more worry.  It's a losing bet that's collected daily.

This is not to say that we shouldn't think about our possible futures.  We should plan and strive and do our best to make our tomorrows what we want them to be.  Planning isn't the same as worrying though.  Planning is a weight lifter.

Recognizing that you only have so much control and letting the worry about the future pass through you and over you can make today a good day. 
Don't borrow worry from the future.  Leave it where (and when) it is so that you can invest in the now.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Self-care is not selfish (nor is it shellfish)

Can a person have a good day if they don't take care of themselves? Do you know a person who is always doing for others until they just can't anymore? Does it seem that even though they are doing good day things, they are not having good days?

Sure, making today a good day is often about doing for others but it's OK though, to do things for yourself; sometimes it's almost required so that you can recharge and keep going.

Take some time today and list activities that make make you happy. Try to think of ones that don't take too long and don't require too much preparation. 

Things that make me happy when I need a boost:
  • Making coffee - grinding, brewing, smelling, drinking; it's the process more than the drink
  • Napping - in the sun with the nap blanket
  • Drinking a glass of wine - dry and spicy
  • Facebooking - catching up with friends and family
  • Reading - fiction, non-fiction . . anything is fine
  • Writing - things like this essay
  • Exercising - this doesn't actually make me happy, but it's effects do and I like those
Other self-care activities:
  • Meditating
  • Cooking
  • Eating
  • Walking
  • Gardening
  • Crafting
  • Gaming
Self-care doesn't need to take a lot of time (but it can if you have it to spare). Self-care doesn't need to involve anyone else (but you can involve people or pets if you have a ready friend). Find your happy thing and let people know that it's important to you and necessary.

If anyone hassles you for being selfish, tell them *I* said it was OK.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Today could be the last ______

Today could be the last sunny day of the year.
That spark on your walk could be the last firefly of the summer.
A magical kiss might be the last kiss with the person you thought was the one.
The sack might be the last school lunch you make for you child.
Today could be the last [whatever] for the day, season, year, or your life.
Last things happen.

You don't need to just be sad about "lasts" though.  It's important to be aware that the big and small events that make up our days are fragile and fleeting and worth being aware of or even cherishing.

Try to make the effort to notice the things that bring you joy, small and large.  Hold them in your heart and in your mind for when they are not there.  Tell people about your joys, share the tiny gifts you encounter that make your life better so they might notice them more in their own lives.

The older you are, the fewer new things you might experience.  You know however, that things end.  Things end all the time.  Someday, even you will end and your friends and loved ones will look back on their "lasts" with you.  Today is a good day to make sure that the lasts are noticed and not ignored.

Today could be your last today.  Strive to make it memorable.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Practice makes perfect (or at least better)

Very few people are good at things the first time.  Most people need repetition and refinement to become good at anything.

The same is true for making days that don't seem so good . . . good days.

A key to becoming good at anything is to practice.

When I started making/recognizing good days, it wasn't as easy as it is now.  I had to work to notice all the good things that made up my life.  From the people I interacted with and how I interacted with them, to the things that made my life comfortable (like water, and shelter, and food), to the place I lived I needed to pay more attention.

The same things one day were often the same things as the day before but new things came to mind none-the-less.  Sometimes those things were more common (like my children's laughter) and sometimes they were esoteric ("How amazing it is that we humans can think! How does that even work?") but new things were always popping up.  They popped up because I was always looking. 
When asked how my day is, I do an inventory of good things that day.  As I did almost anything throughout my day I also asked myself what made it part of my good day.  

Over the years, it has become a part of who I am.  I practiced.

Look actively
Look often
Look regularly
Look harder
Look deeper


Starting - Even if imperfectly

Starting can be hard.

Waking up is hard for some people.
For others, writing that first sentence takes significant effort.
Taking that leap into a relationship . . . that can be torturous.

I think that for many people, the starting is the hardest part.  Making or recognizing that today is a good day can be the same; starting is hard.

Starting something can be scary.  You never know how it's going to end or even if it will finish.  You might not know where things are going to end up once you start.  You may upset your life or a person that matters to you.  There is a lot going on when something is started.

There are a few things to remember as you start something:
You can start small.  You can ease into whatever you are starting in little steps that are not overwhelming,  You can test the waters and make sure things are OK as you go.  You can ask for help and feedback.
Just start.

You can re-do or edit.  Most of the time, the starting is not the same as the ending; you have time to undo what you did, or do it over, or cover it up, or in some way make better any mistakes you made.  Don't become so hung up on making just right that you forget that it might be good enough for now any you can improve on it later.
Just start.

So don't worry about starting and just start.  It's OK if it's imperfect.  It's ok if it's junk.
Once the starting is started the rest can happen.  It will play out however it will . .  but at least it's started.

Starting to make today a good day or starting to recognize that it is a good day can be difficult. If you can start seeing something good about the day then, like any other thing, the rest can happen.
Just start.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Your purpose

How do you spend your day?  Are you a student, a worker, or a caretaker?

Is what you did part of your purpose or is it a means to your purpose?

Are you a student because you want to learn something or because you have to be?  Are you a worker because you love your work or because it pays the bills?  Are you a caretaker because you love taking care of people or because it's your lot in life?

Any of those things can be the means towards a purpose or, they can be the purpose itself.  Finding, knowing, and moving towards your purpose is key to making today a good day.

Detailed purpose can sometimes be hard to identify though; it can be hard to accomplish in the short term. Broad purposes can be a great start though.

"My purpose is to make the world better."
"My purpose is to be happy."
"My purpose is to make others happy."
"My purpose is to take care of my loved ones."
"My purpose is to help animals."
"My purpose is to make art."
"My purpose is to be a better parent than mine were."
"My purpose is to be the best partner I can be."
"My purpose is to make the best pizza ever"
"My purpose is to get through today/this week/etc."

Whatever your purpose is, keep it in your mind.  Don't just keep it in the back of your mind either; try to keep it central to what you do and who you are throughout your day

Ask yourself each night, "Did I fulfill or work towards my purpose today?"

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Everyone is watching

At work, at school, on the street and in the parks... everywhere.
They probably even share a house with you.

They are watching . . . noticing.

Today is a good day to give them something good to watch; to notice; to absorb.

When you make today a good day however you do . . people will see you and you have the opportunity to influence them.

In large and small ways we can make the world a better place by setting positive examples.  Smile more, talk about why today is a good day for you, be extra kind.

They probably won't judge you for NOT making today a good day but they WILL notice when you do... And that will make everyone's day better.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Special days

Imagine for a moment, the dreariest Tuesday you can; imagine it's overcast and chilly and there is a good chance of a cold rain turning to sleet.

What might make that day good?  What might make it special?

The fact is that there are many special days throughout our lives; good days that are good or special by design that can turn that Tuesday around.

That Tuesday might be your birthday!  Birthdays are special because (unless you are a twin) they are just for you.  Your very existence is celebrated.  The day is special because of you!

Tuesday might be a Holiday! Holidays are special for the opposite reason from birthdays: they are special because they are shared.  Friends and family (and neighborhoods and countries and faiths) come together to celebrate shared experiences and make new ones.

Relational holidays are almost a hybrid.  On Father's Day and Mother's Day and the like, we celebrate the individuals within a group.  You are part of something special and we know it!

What if that Tuesday is a Leap day?  One day, every four years, that is extra!  What an opportunity to make a tradition!  And if your birthday is on Leap day?  Magic!

Here's a surprise though . . . any day and every day can be special.

Try this exercise: When you are done interacting with someone don't tell them to "Have a good one," or "See ya later," or something similar.  Instead, wish them a "Happy Tuesday," or tell them "Have a very merry Tuesday."  See if that doesn't make their day a little bit better.  See if it makes them smile.

Pay attention to yourself too.  Is your Tuesday happier or merrier?  Is it more special? 
Is today a more special (good) day?

Saturday, November 4, 2017


We live in a society that is always going.  Oftentimes it is good to stop . . 

Stop complaining.
Stop thinking "worst first"
Stop rushing
Stop waiting
Stop looking for perfection
Stop trying to be perfect
Stop wasting time
Stop wasting effort
Stop worrying
Stop wishing

Stop thinking that a good day is dependent on the day
Stop thinking that happiness is outside you

Start stopping the things that prevent you from finding joy

Friday, November 3, 2017

"Nothing went wrong"

Some days it feels like our day or our lives are filled with literal or emotional gray clouds.
We feel like they are just blocking out and hopes or joys.

What happens if we examine the day though ?
What happens if we spend time reflecting and writing down all the bad things that happened or are happening that day, hour-by-hour?

"5:00 - 6:00 - Alarm went off.  Snoozed"
"6:00 - 7:00 - Prepared for work"
"7:00 - 8:00 - Commute"
"8:00 - 9:00 - Worked"
  . . .
"10:00 - 11:00 - Went to bed"

The details of each hour will have ups and downs.  The commute might have been long or work might have had a non-productive event.  Lunch may have been rushed or someone sid they liked your hair.

For some or many of those hours though, the best that might be said is "Nothing bad happened." 

"Nothing bad happened" is not ideal.  In fact, it's far from ideal.
"Nothing bad happened" is barely OK.  Sometimes OK is the best we can have though.

"Nothing bad happened" is not a way to live our lives.  It's not nearly as good as "Today is a good day" but not every day feels like a good day without some effort.

"Nothing bad happened" is a tool to help us not be overwhelmed by the gray clouds in our lives.

It's also important to remember that behind those clouds . . is the sun.