If you ask my friend Robert how he’s doing, he always gives the same answer.
”Best day of my life!”
Even though the chances that today is really the best day of his life are slim to none, at least he’s acting as if it will be.
It’s such a positive message that even a morose, whiny moron like me would like it to be true. If he’s having such a great day, maybe some of it will rub off on me. It’s such a great response to “How are you?” that I’ve started using it myself. Before, when people would ask me how I was, I’d usually say, “Another drug-free day!” It did turn heads, but I’m not sure it improved anyone’s life, including my own. Robert’s answer may not be any more true than mine, but at least he’s aiming so much higher than I was.
Robert’s greeting is a gift. And people seem to like it: He has tons of friends, gets invited everywhere and everyone likes him. It’s not because he’s so brilliant or funny or great-looking, but because he’s so happy to be alive, so happy to see the sun again, so happy to spend another day on this side of the grass. If he has problems, you are not going to hear about them, not today. He likes people, enjoys their company and loves to hear their stories -- even when they’re not well-told. He is patient and self-entertained.
How does he do it? He has the same problems we all have: needy children, problematic friends, family tension, work stress, traffic jams, hangnails, long lines, rude people, we’re out of milk, the washing machine is broken, there’s something up in the attic making noise. So how does Robert make that all add up to “Best day of my life?” Why does his two-plus-two equal 10?
Can a person simply decide to be happy? In a way, yes. If you’ve ever bought a lottery ticket, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Let’s say you buy a ticket on a Thursday for the $500 million jackpot. The drawing will be on Saturday night. All day Friday and Saturday, in your daydreams, you think about all the things you’ll do with the money. You’ll quit the job you don’t like. You’ll buy Mom a new house. You’ll send a big check to your friend who always has money problems. You’ll give some to your church, you’ll give some to the animal shelter, you’ll help out your family and there will still be plenty for you to buy whatever your wildest dreams can come up with. You’ll be living a carefree life, and your friends and family will all be better off for your good luck.
It will be the best day of your life. All your days will be the best days of your life from now on.
Saturday night finally arrives, the numbers fall, and you go back to real life. Someone else is having the best day of your life. But for two or three days, you really had a good time spending that money you didn’t have. Too bad that feeling couldn’t last.
But it can. Pretend you bought a ticket. And the drawing is not this Saturday, but Saturday two years from now. Still, you are holding the winning ticket, so you may as well start acting like a winner right now. Are you really going to wait two years to quit that job you don’t like? Are you really going to wait two years to get Mom a new house? We can at least start fixing up the one she has now. You’ve got to live with that washer for two more years, but maybe some guy on YouTube can show you how to fix it for free. You can volunteer at the animal shelter so you’ll know where to spend the money when you get it. And while you’re there, you might meet somebody who works there that you really like.
It could turn out to be the best day of your life. (Contact Jim Mullen at firstname.lastname@example.org.)