When I was a kid, my mom would drop us off at school and say, “You are going to have a good day.” She’d say it in an accent completely unlike herself – and today, I still wake up thinking of that mantra. Sometimes the difference between a good day and a bad day is just in how we perceive it, isn’t it?
A few weeks ago, I wrote a bucket list for our children. I’ve been thinking a lot about that list and how this same attitude that we hope our kids grow up to have is also the perspective on life we want to live today.
So let’s jump right in. Here are 15 things that make an ordinary day happy!
1. Smile a lot. I know that’s a very American thing to do. But trust me. Once you start smiling more, it makes your days feel brighter. It makes the recipients of your smiles happier, too. (Ever not light up when a baby smiles at you?)
2. Practice kindness. Should you treat other people as you like to be treated? No. Treat them better, because when you see their joy or believe you’ve impacted their world in some little way, it feels good.
3. Don’t keep score. If you do, you’ll inevitably be miserable whenever you think someone else owes you something.
4. Know that your life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. In fact, your home doesn’t have to be, either, as Myquillyn always says.
5. Get outside. Maybe the sun it’s shining. Maybe it’s pouring rain. Heck, here in Montana we wake up to freezing temperatures and snow all the time. But pause just for a minute every day, and go out there.
6. Say, “I love you.” And mean it.
7. Eat with someone else. If you know someone is eating alone, call her up for an impromptu picnic. Take the widow down the street out for lunch. Stop by a mother’s house when her kids are away at summer camp.
8. Keep a journal. This journal for finding your direction is a best-selling writing prompt journal that I designed at Gadanke.com. It helps you open your heart and slowly craft some plans, so that you can celebrate the person you’re meant to become. A journal is a place where you always get to be you.
9. Ignore what “they” say. A couple years ago, I decided to stop buying clothes for three months. I was tired of how “they” kept telling me my outfits weren’t fashionable enough or cute enough. The No New Clothes Challenge launched, turned into something like a 1 1/2 year-long project, and changed my perspective on how I view myself… whether my perception aligned with “theirs” or not!
10. Take walks.
11. Say, “Thank you.” Don’t just thank your family members for passing the salt or hanging up their coats. Look them in the eye, and tell them you’re grateful for the things they do and the people they are. Write thanks in a letter to an old friend. Jot it on a scrap of paper and tuck it under the neighbor’s windshield wiper. Folks deserve to know that what they’re doing matters.
12. Practice self love. I think this TEDxTalk says it all.
13. Sincerely wish the best for others. Even your enemies. (Especially the people you call enemies.)
14. Know and interact with people who are different than you. When I lived abroad in Germany, my closest friends were two Russian women my age. We communicated through wild arm gestures, doodles, and some really awful attempts at German. I always walked away from our favorite cafe feeling inspired. They could show me the world in ways I had never seen.
15. And finally, just remember that tomorrow is always another day.