At dinner time, when I ask my 10-year-old daughter how her day went, she usually answers, “Good!” and then tells me all the fun and interesting things she did. My 14-year-old son almost always answers, “Bad” and when I ask what went wrong, he says, “Everything.” My 16-year-old invariably answers, “Good” but sometimes when I ask, “What was good about it?” he’ll say, “Nothing.” I suspect this is his strategy for avoiding more questions.
We all have our good and bad days. People with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia may have good days when energy is good and pain is manageable or bad days when it’s hard just to get out of bed.
Each day, good and bad things can happen to us. To borrow from Forrest Gump, life is like a box of Purdy’s chocolates to a person allergic to peanuts and no picture guide. Each day can bring unexpected pleasure, pain or disaster.
Of course, disaster and tragedy can ruin a day. But lesser negative events don’t necessarily have to turn a whole day bad. I ask my kids (and my wife) to tell me the good things about the day – in a variation of my count your blessings exercise. I keep fishing for them to mention their dad.
If they can’t think of anything positive, I ask them what good thing they did for someone else. This is a not so subtle hint on how to make tomorrow a better day: take action and make it better for others.
When one of my kids has had a tough day, we talk about what happened. Sadness and stress can’t be whistled away with an upbeat song. Feelings always need to be acknowledged as in country music. Then, like jazz musicians, we can look at our part in how things turned out and how, as individuals or as a group, we can improvise and harmonize.
Bad things happen to all of us. Accidents happen, our stuff is lost or stolen, others are rude or angry with us, we can be rude or angry, we all get sick, and we all will die.
We also get good luck, green lights, free parking, healthy days, and life today. With this life we feel the contrasts that make it all stimulating and worthwhile.
The pain in life enhances the pleasure. An ice-cold drink is refreshing after mowing the lawn on a sweltering August day. A hot chocolate is perfect on an icy, winter morning. My brother-in-law, Wayne enjoys relaxing with a Coke and a magazine after completing a big weekend project.
The most grouchy, grumpy, self-centred and selfish make me appreciate all the more the sweet, thoughtful and generous people I meet. In a world of people who are minding their own business, I love those who make it their business to make the world a little warmer and kinder for others.
Although I appreciate those who are having a bad day and making bad days for others, I live for those special people who sparkle. They let the light in on our dark, drizzly days and shine it on the rest of the world.
Let’s count our blessings. Be thankful for that person who’s giving you a hard time; they’ll make everyone else you meet seem so much nicer, and appreciate the special people who make your day better.
Since February 1st, I’ve been sharing the insights I’ve learned from my patients, friends and family in “A Hundred Days to Happiness.” Each day, I will post one new insight on facebook.com/davidicus.wong, twitter.com/DrDavidicusWong and my blog at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.