Monday, October 22, 2018

It’s All About Scale

I have two scales I use to measure if a day is a good one.

The first scale is the "Best day/Worst day scale."

For  this scale, I first needed to identify my best day(s) ever.  The best days of my life were the days my daughters were born and the day my girlfriend agreed to be my wife.  Other things may have happened  those days but to me, they were amazingly wonderful.  I would not give  those days back for anything else.

I also needed to identify my worst day ever for this scale to have a bottom.  One hopes that this is harder to do than finding a best day.  My  worst day was the day my little sister died.  It was sudden and tragic  and I hope it remains the worst day of my life; that no day is any worse.

Once I established my range using those days, I could examine today and see where it lands.

The  chances are that today falls right around the middle.  Some days are  better or worse than average but overall, in my world, that counts as a  good day.

The second scale I use it the "Percent of the day" scale.

For  this scale,  I needed to break my day into tasks or events.  For me, I have the broad categories of  "sleeping", "going to work", "working", "time with family", "eating" and  "other free-time stuff".  That all makes up 100% of my day; 24 hours.

For  me to have a bad day, it needs to be more that 50% bad.  That means  that I have to have more than 12 hours of bad.  So many bad hours rarely  happen in one day.  Most hours for me are, at worst, only OK but many  (if not most) are good hours.

What's more, when you  start breaking your day into basic components and are mindful of the  parts that are making them less-than-good, you have the awareness to  know what has to change.

Part of making today a good  day is knowing what makes it so and that scale will have to be specific  to your needs.   Find your scale; and step on it.

Friday, March 9, 2018


I don't think that going to the movies or the theater is a very good date.  You and whoever you go with sit and watch alone: the other person, while sitting next to you, is also watching alone.  If you sat in different rows you'd have the same experience.  I do, however, think that the drinks or coffee or what-have-you after the show, when you can discuss what you both experienced, IS a good date.  The alone part is fine and can even be good, but the real joy is the sharing with someone.

What is true for a date is also good for good days.  Much of what we do is internal to ourselves; we are alone in our tasks and our thoughts and it's the interaction with others that provides a special sort of value.

Interactions with others don't always come naturally to everyone.  I have said for years that I've never met a stranger; I can walk up to anyone and make a casual friend.  I'm odd though.  For some people, connections are more difficult and they need a way to open themselves up to others.


"Hello" is a great way to open a conversation, a connection.  "Hello" is the first step into a larger journey with another person.  "Hello" creates a super-casual relationship that can lead to a subtle uplifting of the day or a deep friendship.  "Hello" can be magical.

Sharing who you are, sharing your time, making connections make todays good days.  Start making small connections and see how your days become better.

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Have you ever noticed that something going wrong can almost ruin a day?
Or that a bad day can ruin a week?
And how things seem to snowball into a mess?
Bad days are like that.
It makes having a good day much harder to have.

The fact is that good days don't exist in a vacuum; they coexist with those bad days and even average days that seem to have no significance. Each single day is part of a tapestry of days that make up our lives.  The little things that make a good day hard and add to the bad day noise can be a struggle.

To combat that struggle takes some special tools and one of those tools is "active accumulation of good days".  Active accumulation of good days means that we are to specifically, overtly notice and remember the good days that have come before and add them to all the previous good days we've had.  For some people it may be enough to hold those previous good days in their mind.  For others, it may be necessary to look back into diaries or photo albums to recall the good days.  Like most tools though, the more you use them and keep them ready, the easier they are to use.

The days of our lives are going to pile up over time .  We are going to accumulate something from them.  Keep the ones you want and let the others go.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

You are what you do (or "You do what you are")

Do you know the biggest factor in having a good day?

It's not what day of the week it is.  It's not the activities that occur throughout the day.

You are the biggest factor.
You create the good day or you recognize the good day.  In either case it's (almost*) all about you.

The choices you make throughout the day, what you do, is who you really are.  The job you do and how you do it, the people you are with and how you interact with them, the things you chose to do are what make you you.

To have a good day people have to look at themselves and see what they are doing to make it good.  They have to find ways to overlook or overcome or avoid the things that prevent it from being good.

Having or making or recognizing a good day is all about the individual.  It's all about you.  It's about what you are doing.

If you want a good day, do good day things.
You are a good day.

Don't Die

My family has an odd tradition.
It started after my little sister died in a car accident.
I don't recall which of the remaining family members started it but it started.  When we take our leave of each other one of us will tell the others, "Don't die."

It's somewhat macabre but it means much to us.
It means that we want the others around.  It means that we want each other to be careful.  It means that we value the family.  It's also a reminder of what we've lost.

I rarely say it outside of family, but I think it often throughout the day because, while I know that everyone dies, the people that make up my day are valuable to me.  I know that I control most of what makes my day a good day  . . . but there are friends, and co-workers, and consequential strangers that impact me and I want them around.

Recognize the people around you.  Cherish your family and your friends.  Make them part of your good days.

Also, don't die.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Ask for help already!

I am not an expert in asking for help.  In fact, I am horrible at it.  I will suffer and strain and fail continually rather than ask for help.  I do this for projects around the house and for thoughts in my head and for feelings in my heart.  I don't ask for help.

Internally, I see it as a failure; as a weakness and I don't want to be a failure or weak.

At least I'm not alone, right?

Asking something of another person can be humbling.  It's sometimes hard for people to say, "I can't do it alone."  It's hard to admit it.  It's embarrassing.  It opens a person up to judgement.

While all that might be true, asking for help is an opportunity.
Asking for help allows a person to first, fix the immediate issue whether it's a stuck bolt or community discussion, or trouble with your family.  If you need help with something, help might be the answer.
Asking for help also provides the opportunity to connect with another person and more connections are almost always better.
Asking for help allows us to learn.  We may learn about our problem, our helper, or ourselves.  What we learn may have nothing to do with the problem at hand but having a person to share with has unlimited potential for growth.

Asking for help is a way to make today a good day and making today a good day is easier with a little help.
All you have to do is ask

{Full disclosure - in public (like at work) I have no issues asking for help.  I want to provide the opportunity for people to help me and be more valuable.  I also feel I have an obligation to my employers not to waste time when help is available.}

Three questions

It's time to play a question and answer game.  The questions are easy but the answers might not be.  The answers can be powerful though.  They provide an opportunity for reflection and insight.

  • What was your best day ever?
  • What the easiest way for you to have a good day?
  • What has been good about today?

What was your best day ever?
The day my girlfriend agreed to be my wife was an AMAZING day.  So were the days my daughters were born.  I'd be hard pressed to decide which was the best. Before those days though. I'd have to go back twenty years to a midnight showing of Star Wars with my father but I'm not sure I recognized it as such when I was younger.

I expect that the answer to this question is pretty flexible for anyone under the age of 14 and becoming more stable after the age of 30.  I'm not sure where on what scale the answer would be in the teens and twenties; those can be tumultuous years.  Who knows if the longer you live the higher a chance for best days might occur because most of us settle down but where there is life there is a chance for incredible days.

Holding your best day in your mind and heart provides an anchor for each subsequent good day.

What the easiest way for you to have a good day?
Smiles make my days better.  Seeing people smile always lifts me up and the closer they are to my circle of people, the happier they make me.  Two strangers smiling at one end of a scale and my wife and kids at the other are my spectrum of instant happy.  I've found too that smiling myself is an instant boost to my mood and my day.

It might be a best friend, or a favorite food, or an activity but isn't it good to know that no matter how bad or good the day is, it can be better because of that one thing?

What has been good about today?
It's early in the day when I write this.  It's raining with a chance of snow later.  The sound of rain on the chimney cover is comforting.  I'm inside my warm house and a cup of coffee is close at hand.  The bed is made and laundry is going. For some, this might not be much of a day at all but for me, all those things are good.  Later, I'll go to work and help people accomplish things.  I'll smile at them and try to induce smiles back.

It's important not to let the days slip past without noticing them.  Looking for the good throughout the day will make it better.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Your time is short, your time is long

Time is short.
How long is a day?
How long is a decade?
How long is your life?

Your time is short.  It's passing by so quickly.  You look back and what seemed like a moment ago is the distant past. Babies are now children or even adults.  I'm not asking you to make each and every moment count but I am asking you to look at what you are doing and make sure it's how you are choosing to spend your time.  Make sure it's not passing you by.

Time is long.
How long is it when you are waiting to see a loved one?
How long is it during that last hour of school or work?
How long is it when you are doing something you love to do?

Your time is long.  It is so filled with hope, and joy, and love.  It's not only your time either.  You share it with the people you are with.  You have time to make the world a better place.  You can focus on HUGE things or keep it small, but you have your entire life before you to make something wonderful.

Time is funny because it is constant externally but is so imbued with feelings that it becomes flexible for each of us.  The events that make today a good day can be fleeing or near forever . . . it's up to us.

What do you expect?

I never wanted to be rich or famous.  I never hoped for any of that.  I never expected it either.  I'm not upset because I'm not rich or famous either.  Not wanting all that and not being all that makes for good days.

There are people that live unhappy lives because they want more and don't have it.  Perhaps they expected that their house would be nicer than their parent's house or their kids would be trouble-free and, when the house needs paint and the kids need a tutor (or a lawyer), it's not a good day.

It's not wrong to HOPE for a better life or better things.  Sometimes hope is all we have to keep us going.  It's also not wrong to EXPECT a better life or what-have-you.  It becomes difficult though, when you are not working to fulfill those expectations; when you are expecting them to happen for you.

The thing is, we can't let hopes and expectations overwhelm our reality.  We can't live our lives disappointed because our hopes and expectations are never met.  We need, sometimes, to accept what we have and what we are willing to work for and realize that those things are good enough. . .  and often pretty good.

We don't need to give up on our hopes and expectations.  We just need to put them in context and do what we can to make them a reality.

Document the good days

For longer than I can remember girls and women have been telling me things that happened or things that I said or did.  They have dates and days and sometimes times.  I'm challenged though because I don't seem to recollect as well as every woman I have ever known.  I don't always clearly recall those things I said or did and I don't remember the "when" of the matter.  As there is no permanent record though, I must trust the information they give.  However, I wonder a bit.  Could all these women be part of a conspiracy where they make up events with specific times and dates to lend credibility for things that never happened?

The answer, of course, is for me to document things.  I should be recording everything and keeping a diary to index all the recordings.  Then, when confronted with something I said or did, I can verify.

That's a bit extreme.  It's borderline crazy really.

Having said that, it's good to document the good things and the good days. Writing something down can be magical.  It can make something more permanent than it was before.  Writing something down requires a person to take a bit of time and think about it a bit longer than they might.

Whether you use Facebook, or a diary, or some other thing, looking back on what you've documented can give you a fresh perspective on today or a boost of happiness when you need it.  It can show how you've grown and improved.

In my house we say, "If it's not written down, it didn't happen." and good days are worth documenting so we know they did happen.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Don't be a quitter

There you are; trying to see the good in each day.  Smiling and laughing and singing and practicing all the skills in your bag of tricks and yet . . . you are just not feeling it.  The house is a mess or your projects are running behind.  The kids are fussing or you can't find that file you need to have.  Things are not going well and you've just about enough and that ice-cream or wine or bed are calling to you saying, "It isn't worth it.  Give up and come to me instead."

Don't give up.
Don't give in.

We don't know when that break-through will finally happen.  We don't know where success is going to find us. We do know that if we stop now . . it's over.  So don't stop.  Push through and keep in mind that amazing feeling of satisfaction when you succeed.

You can do this.
Put some weight on it.
Rub some dirt in it.
Push through.
Use whatever cliché works for you but get it done.

I believe in you.
You can make today a good day.

Monday, February 12, 2018

It's OK to walk away

When I was younger I thought that I had to finish everything I started.  I finished books I didn't like.  I cleaned my plate when filled with food I didn't want.  I even felt a self-imposed obligation to listen to a song to the end even when I wanted to listen to something else.  Even as a parent I made my children finish out all the activities they signed up for even when they didn't give it their best (because it wasn't their thing).

I'm in recovery now though. Over time I've found that it's OK to walk away from things that don't bring you joy or help you along your journey.

If we are doing things that are preventing you from making today a good day it is fine for us to stop doing those things. We don't have to explain or make up polite excuses.  We can just walk away.

We can walk away from bad relationships.  We can walk away from uncomfortable situations.  We can walk away from failed attempts at good-day-making.  We can walk away.

Later, we can walk back if we want.  We can come at it from a different angle or attitude.  We can try again after we've rested or rethought the goals. Or . . we can walk away forever.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Today is better than yesterday

You have made it to today!
Yesterday and the day before and the day before, etc. had situations that could have prevented today but they didn't stop you.  Congratulations.

You made choices.  People around you made choices.  Nature did its thing and still, here you are!
Lessons were learned. Experiences were had. People were encountered. You are improved.

Today is going to have a new set of challenges but because of yesterday and all the previous yesterdays you are better prepared for those challenges.  Today is better than yesterday because of you.

Take a moment today and be thankful for all the yesterdays; all the people and events that helped you be here.  As you encounter the stresses of today keep in mind that tomorrow these will me the lessons of yesterday.

(Not so) secret tip:  You are the reason today is better than yesterday.  You take or leave what yesterday offered.  I believe in you though.  You made it!  Today is yours do use as you will.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A lists of lists

I love lists.  They clearly illuminate what's important.  Some lists are written down and some I just keep in my head.  They are changing all the time but always there.   Any day can be a good day with the correct application of the right list.
  1. People - Make a list of the people in your life that make it special.  Then set some goals for making some of them part of each day.  It might be a phone call, or a postcard, or a chat.  If it's someone that's passed then it might be quiet time of reflection or prayer.
  2. Food - We all have food that makes us feel better.  It might be comfort food or healthy food but knowing what snacks or food you want or need to make today a good day can make a good day.  Your grocery list or errand list should have "good day foods" on it.
  3. Books - There are books I've read so many times they are like an old friend or a warm blanket.  I can open them up anywhere and know what's happened and what's going to happen.  They are instant good day makers.  You book list might have books you've read out loud to your kids.  It's not important if the books are picture, comic, self-help, or bodice-rippers; your book list will be yours.  Make sure you have the listed books on hand as needed.
  4. Objects - Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens may be some of your favorite things.  You may have photographs of your family that bring you joy.  Perhaps the ashtray you made in shop class takes to you a place and time when all was good in the world.  Knowing what things make you happy is one step closer to being happy.
  5. Activities - You may like doing things by yourself or with a friend.  Gardening or walking or doing puzzles or watching a movie may be your jam.  Whatever it is you like to do write it down in a list so you have a clear idea of what your best options are when you need a boost.
  6. Tasks for the day - Write down what you want to do today.  Does it seem reasonable?  Do you need to move things to tomorrow?  Are they prioritized and optimized?  There should be things on that list that you enjoy.   Marking them off as you finish provides feelings of success.  Moving the things that are not completed to tomorrow's list is totally acceptable.
  7. Goals - I once read that if you aim at nothing you are sure to hit it.  Naming what you want is a great reminder to do things that will help you reach the goal.  If you have "Be a world-class singer" on your list and you are not singing daily, you may need to revise your goal or do more to achieve it.
  8. Bad-day makers - Have you ever made a list of things that are sure to trigger a bad day?  A list of things to avoid?  What would happen if you had that list in front of you every day?  You might make more of an effort to mitigate those things each day.  You might also work to remove them from your life entirely.  If you had a list and three of the items were work related you might be motivated to change jobs.

Monday, February 5, 2018

"Blockers", "root cause", "5 whys" and you

Sometimes things are in the way of a good day.  They might be big or small, or internal or external but they are preventing you from having the day you want.  Those are good day blockers.

When blockers occur, we can let them remain and stop us in our tracks or we can work to remove them.  We can take each one as it comes along and change the world or ourselves to make today a good day.  Once all the blockers are gone, the day will be good.

It's like a "Choose your own adventure" book:
What is preventing a good day?
     Blocker X is preventing a good day
Remove Blocker X
    Blocker X is fixed (yay!!)
    Oh no! 
Blocker Y is in the way now.
    Remove Blocker Y
    Blocker Y can't be unblocked because of Blocker Z.
         Remove Blocker Z
    Remove Blocker Y
No Blockers!!
Have a good day!

At some point, all the blockers will be removed (or you may discover that you were the blocker and you don't really want it removed) and you can go on with your good day.

Oftentimes the hardest part of removing blockers is recognizing them.  Sometimes what you think is the problem really isn't.  Trying to find the root cause of a blocker can be the hardest part of dealing with one.

Let's say you need to call a family member to make today a good day.  Maybe you need information or a favor.  Maybe you need an audio hug.  Your battery is dead though.  
Problem:  I need to talk but I cannot.
Cause: Phone is dead.

Is that the root cause or the immediate cause and what's the best way to fix the root cause?
We can use the "5 Whys*" to trace the problem and find solutions.  Simply ask "why?" at least five times at each level of the issue.

Why is my phone dead?
  "I didn't charge it last night".
Why didn't you charge it last night?
  "I was too tired to plug it in."
Why were you too tired?
  "I stayed up late watching TV?"
Why was watching TV more important than rest?
  "It wasn't.  I was just killing time."
Why were you not resting instead?
  "I have no good reason.  I should go to bed sooner."

In this scenario there are multiple places where the immediate problem could be fixed (bring a power pack, plug in the phone before TV, set a reminder to plug in phone) and we've identified a root cause.

Blockers are going to differ and finding the right "whys" to ask may not be natural; it may feel a bit odd.  The thing is that, if the Blocker isn't removed by what you have asked or what you have answered or if it returns, you can try different whys, receive different answers, and do something different.  Repeat as necessary.

Having trouble dealing with a family member or a co-worker or a stranger?  Ask why.
Not enjoying your job or how you spend your day?  Ask why.
Sad?  Ask why.

One last (important) thing!  Once we think we know the root cause of the blocker we are trying to remove so that we can have or make a good day?  We need to do whatever we discovered we need to do.  Doing is the most critical part of today being a good day.

*The "5 whys" system was developed by Toyota Motor Company back in the day.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

On the road again

It's the worst, right?
The American Automotive Association reported that the average American spent 17,600 minutes a year driving.  Twelve days.  That's just the average.

Years go I lived in Houston, TX, the fourth largest city in America by population and a metro area bigger than New Jersey (but smaller than Massachusetts).  On a good traffic day, the commute to and from work was 45 minutes each way.  It was rarely a good traffic day.

More than once I found myself sitting in extreme heat in an extremely long line of cars; a line so long that I turned off the engine because I knew I wasn't moving for hours.  Sadly, more than once I thought to myself that there better be something up ahead to justify my wait; something like a really big accident and not some idiot making poor choices.

One day though, I recognized what I was doing.  I was wishing something bad on a stranger because I was inconvenienced.  More than a recognition, it was a realization.

I realized that traffic was preventing me from having a good day.  And, since I couldn't change the traffic, I would have to change myself.  I had to stop thinking negatively while waiting in the car.  I had to stop being frustrated by the wait,  More so, I had to do something to make it better for myself and for my fellow drivers.

I moved my harmonica into the car along with a bottle of soap bubbles.  When traffic stopped I'd tune the radio to some station playing music with space in between the notes and I'd fill them with music.  Or, if nothing was playing that I liked, I'd make my own music badly.  If the weather was good or the mood took me I'd open the sun roof and start blowing bubbles up and out.

Looking out the windows I'd see my fellow drivers looking in.  They'd be smiling or laughing or be trying to figure out what sort of lunatic was sharing the road with them.  I didn't mind the wait anymore either.  Sitting in the car was an opportunity to make today a good day.

Years later I added a red nose to my traffic kit.  I could now bring joy even when driving at normal speed.  Every stop light or stop sign I had the chance to draw out a smile or two.

Harmonicas, bubbles, and red noses aren't for everyone (but they could be for you . . have you tried?).  Anyone can find their thing though.  Your frustration may not even be traffic.

The first and second things you can do is identify your frustrations and decide that you are not going to be frustrated any longer.  Next do something about it!  The last thing thing might be trying to make whatever it is better for others.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The sound of music

Music is magic.  It can make a bad day good and a good day better.

"Let's start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read you begin with A-B-C
When you sing you begin with do-re-mi"

Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical "The Sound of Music" was one of the four CDs my family bought when we first acquired a CD player.  Before that my sister and I used to play the Beatles "1962-1966" (Red album) every Saturday on the turntable during chores.
As far back as I can remember there has been music in my life.  Perhaps because I moved around as a child I use Top 40 songs as markers of where and when I lived in a certain place.  Music can take us to a place in our memories in ways no other thing can.

Years later, I moved in with that same sister and we'd sing home-made show-tunes about whatever we were doing.  After I was married and had children I would make up bed-time songs and bath-time ditties never thinking that more than TWO DECADES LATER(!) the kids would remember and sing them.  I look forward to hearing those songs sung to their children.

In my car I keep a harmonica.  If traffic is slow or stopped I'll often take it out and play along to some random station.  Sometimes I make up my own music.  I once played the shaker egg in a band.  I may not be good but I play with FEELING!  I've futzed with guitars, pianos, and even a didgeridoo without any success.

Music can be magical.  It can make any day a good one.  Music can take you away to someplace you want to be or focus you on where you are.  The music doesn't have to be great; you don't have to be great.  As long as it's good for you, it's good.

Make music
Sing songs
Listen to what you love
Go where people make it

You have a soundtrack.  It's changed over the years and will continue to evolve.  Purposefully creating it to make your "biopic" one you would want people to watch can be a big step to making today a good day.

Related music:

Friday, January 26, 2018

"Here" is a good place

I wonder where this is being read.

Are you at home?  On the couch?  In the bathroom?  At the kitchen table?
Are you at work?  Should you be paying attention to your job?  Are you in the bathroom?
Are you out and about running errands?  Are you waiting in line somewhere? 
No matter where you are . . there you are.

If it's sunny or rainy; if it's close or far from family; if it's where you want to be or not . . . where you are is where you are.  You are here.

Here is where you think good thoughts and do good things.  Here is where you smile and share and clean and teach and grow.  Here is where you cry when you need it.  Here is where you work and exercise.

The magic of here is that it's also now.  It's not "there" or "then" or "later". Here is the place that we live, day in and day out.  No matter where you go . . you are still here.  

"Here" is a place but it's also a state.  "Here" is being present to what you are doing and who you are with.  "Here" is where you are able to make today a good day.

It's good to make sure you are happy with where you are, with what you are doing.  If you're not where you want to be, it's a good time to discover why not and where that is and work on how to make that happen.

Today can be a good day no matter where you are; it will happen here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Difficult times make for good lessons

I have some bad news
Not every day will be filled with rainbows and unicorns.

There will be times when things small and things significant will go wrong and they will make having a good day problematic.  Whether it's the dog escaping the yard or barking incessantly at the squirrels or whether it's the co-worker who won't stop talking and let you do your job, external frustrations happen.
Further, we all make mistakes and those self-driven events can contribute to making a good day worse too.  We aren't perfect at our jobs or with our friends and we screw our lives up.  Sometimes it seems our mistakes are near-catastrophic.

Have you ever noticed though, that we often learn good things about ourselves when things are hard?

We can learn how to avoid what caused the bad.
We can learn to prevent them.
We can learn to deal with them.
We can learn that we are not alone.
We can learn that they can be overcome or mitigated.

Opportunities to learn are hidden in the hard and the bad.  Looking for those lessons can make today a good (or better) day.

What makes up your bad things and struggles will be different from everyone else's and the lessons we learn will be different but the important thing is that we *look* for the lessons and take them to heart.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Bad days happen

Every day is not a good day.
Some days are so full of bad it's hard to think of anything but bad.
Some days are horribly tragic they seem to eclipse every past day and future day.

Death can make for a day apparently without goodness.  When we lose someone we knew, someone we loved; when we have a friend who's lost someone; when we hear of some celebrity or even a stranger, we know that lives have been changed.  We know that there is a community that is going to be left empty.  We know that their entire world is less bright.  We know that the grieving is just starting.  How can today be a good day without the deceased in it?

Lost love.
Lost love is almost like a little death.  A person that filled someone's heart is gone.  No matter if they're still around, there's an emptiness.  If they *are* still around, the emptiness can be even harder.  It's hard to imagine that today is a good day when you feel so alone.

Unplanned change.
When you lose a job; when you have to relocate; when life kicks you down when everything seemed to be going well . . . it sees like the world has tilted off its axis and everything is off. How can today be a good day when you don’t know what’s next?

Bad days happen.  The longer you live, the more bad days you will encounter and there is no easy answer to dealing with them.  We can look to the past for remembrances of better times and to the future for the expectation of good days but today may just be a bad day and we may just have to accept it.

Do your best.
It becomes better.
Bad days end.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Be a good ancestor

It is very likely that, if you do not already, some day you will have descendants.  You will have children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  More children will come from them and they will all be a part of you.

It's hard though, to imagine what impact you might have on those far-flung future descendants.  It's hard enough to figure out your impact on your children!  We don't even know how many of those people will know who we were.

We can assume that we won't all be monumental and have statues will be built in our memory.  We won't all discover something amazing and be immortalized in books.  We won't all be fantastically wealthy and pass down trusts.

We, however, have today to pass on.  We have the time now to make the world a better place and to leave a lasting impression that should carry forward for generations to come.  How we live our lives, striving to make today a good day, can be our greatest  legacy.  

We are not only passing this possible inheritance to our own progeny.  What we do today and how we make today a good day can and will influence all the people we deal with and could influence their family futures.

Not knowing the impact does mean that there isn't one and it doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to make that impact positive.  Not knowing means that today is the day to make sure you are doing something that has the chance of being the change that lasts lifetimes.

As we go through today, remember that our good day can have impacts that will matter long after we have gone.  Our children and their children and their children and some random children can have a better life because of choices we make today.  Do something that will make you a good ancestor.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

You are not alone

I've been working on being a better friend and cultivating more friendships.  It strikes me as an excellent way to create or improve good days.

People were not meant to be by themselves for too long.  It's fine to have "me time" alone but people are better off when they have someone to share with.  Having someone to share your successes with makes them feel more meaningful.  Having someone to share your sadness with can lighten the load you are carrying.

When you have a friend, you have someone that can make you day better; someone that can see you need a hug, or a punch, or a good talking to and provide that.  A friend can be a touchstone to keep you grounded or the catalyst to do something new.

Today is a good day to make a friend, deepen a friendship, or be a better friend.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

This year is a good year

Today you are however old you are.

You may be in your teens or your twenties or your thirties or more but this year is your year to do with what you want.

It's taken years to become all that you are.  It's taken the places you have been and the people you've encountered and things you have learned.  Here you are though; the product of choices and luck and effort.

It doesn't matter how old you are; it matters that your age is your age.  You have done things and seen things and you know what you know.  You know that there will be new things in your future (and many of the same things too) and you know that they will change who you are.

Right now though, you are your age.  You can make this year a good year by making each day a good day.  You can look back at where you were and how far you have come.  You can imagine how your decisions today will lead to amazing things.

Much like a river, you are always the same and you are ever changing but today you are who you are, where you are, and when you are.  Today you are you.

Happy belated birthday and happy early birthday!  I hope all the days in between and good ones.

Friday, January 12, 2018

You don't know the story

Every day we encounter so many people: family, friends, co-workers, consequential strangers, and the regular kind. We can never totally not know their day, their story; their ups and downs; their trials and tribulations; their hopes and dreams.

Some of those people may not know that today is a good day.  They may even be having a bad day.  Your interactions with them may be difficult; they may be troublesome; they may be irritating.  They  may contribute to making your good day . . . less so.

Situations like that provide opportunities for us to make a good (or better) day.

We can try to know those stories; to find out the why.  Sharing what is bothering a person may be enough to improve the day.  Knowing that there is someone out here who cares enough to listen can be a gift.  It's possible that we have a real solution to their problem.  Caring doesn't always require excessive effort and any effort could make a difference.

If time or place or situation (or who we are) makes it difficult for us to connect and help we can accept that we don't know their story and understand that it's not our story and doesn't have to make our day less than good.  Sometimes stepping away is the best thing we can do for ourselves.

-Their story is not our story .  .  . and we don't have to let them take us down
-Our stories can cross  . .  . and we can work to make them better
-Our story will continue . . . and we control our story

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Plan for tomorrow's good day

“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future..” – Yoda

We don't know what tomorrow will be like.  A calendar or a schedule and experience can give us some idea but we never know for sure what tomorrow holds.

We can, however, do things ahead of time to better the chances that tomorrow will be a good day.

I know people that make sure they can do the things that make them happy.  Routines work! For example, I know people that go to the gym daily; it brings them satisfaction that they can count on.  I know people that buy the morning newspaper from the same news-seller and I think the dialog between them is more important than the newspaper.
Once you can identify things in your life that make a day good, you can put them into your routine and know that there will be at least SOME good.

You can also have "good-day-makers" at the ready.  I own three clown noses.  One is at my office, one is at my house, and one is in my car.  Whenever I need a boost or I see someone that might need a smile . .  I put on a nose.  The day is bettered.
I also keep stamped postcards at my office and sometimes I send them to random friends.  They might be long-held friendships or new.  Real, physical mail makes a day better; both in the sending and in the receiving. Maybe your thing is a special snack: you should have those available when and where you need them.  If you have a sibling or friend that always makes you laugh, remember to call them when you need to.

You can also do traditional planning.  Knowing what you want to accomplish and how you are going to do it can make a day good by reducing all sorts of stress.  Life is easier when you don't have to rush or have too many things to do.  This sort of planning isn't for everyone but there are tools to make it easier.  Find the one that works for you and use it.

Preparing today can make tomorrow more likely to be a good day (and it can do good things for today too!).

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Any day above ground

Them: How's it going?
Me: <evaluates>
Me: Today is a good day
Them: Any day above ground is a good day
Me: <introspective thoughts>

This scene repeats itself fairly often and it always gives me pause because I don't know that the sentiment is true and I don't know how to respond.  It may be true to them . . . but it might not be and it's definitely not true for everyone.

We don't know about what comes after we die.  Most of us have beliefs about what happens but that's not the same as *knowing* and most of the beliefs are that the next place is better than what we have here in this life.  The next stage may be filled with ultimate joy or rest or knowledge. Any day below ground may be BETTER than a day above ground. 

Being above ground has it's own set of issues.  It can be full of stress or pain or unhappiness.  A day above ground might be the same as the previous day and the one before that and the next day is going to be the same too; joyless repetition.  A day above ground could include the death of a loved one.  A day above ground can include a job loss or a fight with your partner.  Being above ground does not automatically make any day a good day.

We don't know what we don't know about being below ground.  All we have is what we have today . . above ground.  That doesn't make it a good day though.  For a day above ground to be a good day it might take effort and mindfulness.  A day above ground has choices that we can make to make it good; either by our actions or by our outlook.

Them: How's it going?
Me: <evaluates>
Me: Today is a good day
Them: Any day above ground is a good day
Me: Each day is what we make it