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Have a Good Day

I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day.  And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes, you have an opportunity to change that.

Gillian Anderson

What is a Good Day?

Caroline Webb, the author of How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life, identifies a “good day” as a day in which three questions can be answered in the affirmative.

  • Did you spend your time and attention on things that matter? – Are you setting and achieving intentional priorities for your day.
  • Do you feel that you did a good job and had the support of others? – Were all your interpersonal interactions fruitful.
  • Did the day leave you feeling more energized than depleted? – Did you bring energy, enthusiasm, and enjoyment into every interaction during the day.

Granted, these bars are set extraordinarily high, and for most of us, few days exist where each one could be reached.

How to Have a Good Day

Here are five essential tactics to help consistently have a good day:

  1. Set intentions for your day. Science shows that your brain can only consciously perceive part of what’s going on around you at any time.  What you notice is whatever matches the things that are already top-of-mind.

For example, when shopping for a new car, it suddenly seems that every vehicle you see is the exact model you’re considering?   This phenomenon is called “selective attention.”  You are noticing specific positive and negative cues.

To have a good day, you need to see and focus on the positive cues.

  1. Practice distancing. No matter how skilled you become at setting intentions, you can’t always avoid life’s frustrations and challenges.  To paraphrase a popular bumper sticker, “Stuff happens.”

Distancing is a deceptively simple technique that allows you to gain needed perspective.  Two distancing tactics include:

  1. Ask yourself: “What will I think about this in a month or a year from now?”
  2. Second, the next time you’re grappling with a thorny issue, ask yourself: “What would I say if I were advising a friend on this exact situation?
  3. Plan strategic downtime. Research shows that we make better decisions when we give our brains a break.
  4. Focus on one task at a time. Multitasking makes us less, rather than more, productive.  When we constantly juggle tasks, error rates increase, and output decreases.
  5. Practice gratitude. Ultimately, our mindset is much of what makes our day good or bad.  So when you make a point to note the good things (however small), your brain gets into the habit of scanning for positive things, and your mood improves.  Gratitude forces you to hyper-focus on the positive.

The Bible

Psalm 34:8-12 says,

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

This 2,000 year-old verse provides the same five suggestions as above.  Everything listed in the verse is intentional.  To taste, see, fear, and seek are deliberate actions.

The writer of Psalms 34 had a long view of life and was distancing himself from short-term thinking.  We are to take refuge in the Lord to provide us with downtime.  God is asking us to do only one thing, and that is to trust in Him.  And finally, we are to be grateful for God’s provisions because we are all in need.

To have a good day is easy; follow the words of our Creator.  And trust and love Him.