I've got a girlfriend who is currently serving as her mom's caregiver. When she started, her mom was in her early 90s. Now she's 96, I believe. Anyway, because of our schedules, it's easier for us to get a chat in during the morning hours before her mother wakes up. This means that, sometimes, I am on the phone when her mom calls for her and boy—those first 5-10 minutes are critical. What I mean by that is, little things like my friend's tone of voice or what's on her mom's television screen can determine if her mother is going to have a really good day or a pretty sucky one.
All things work together, right? The pattern of watching how my friend's mom's morning routine affects her mood has taught me to be more sensitive to how I start my day as well. Before doing anything else, oftentimes what I will do is stay in bed, take deep breaths, and ask myself a few questions—ones like the ones I'm about to share with you in just a sec. More times than not, when I ask certain ones and thoughtfully provide my answers, my day ends up going great. I think it's mostly because it helps me to start the day with intention and clarity. That way, I run the day instead of it running me. Feel me?
If you want to try this lil' exercise, just to see if it can get you off on the right foot, here are six questions that have helped me to approach my days with a half-glass-full perspective.
1. “What was the ‘high’ and ‘low’ from yesterday? What can I learn from both?”
Some of y'all might remember the movie The Story of Us (Bruce Willis, Michelle Pfeiffer) from back in the day. One of the scenes that I liked so much that I incorporated it into my own life was how, at dinner time, everyone in the family would discuss their high (the best thing that happened) and low (the worst thing that happened) throughout their day. In fact, this is something that I also typically start my counseling sessions with too. Not only is it a good way to keep life in perspective (nothing is ever all good or totally bad), it's also a good way to determine what you learned from the best and worst moments of the day. When you take a moment to reflect on your "high", it can help you to figure out what you can do to duplicate that experience. When it comes to your "low", you can determine what steps you need to take in order to avoid a repeat performance.
2. “What can I accomplish today that I never have before?”
Believe it or not, the word "bored" is one of my absolute favorites. Why? Because within the definition lies the solution to having a boredom problem. To be bored is to be "weary by dullness, tedious repetition, unwelcome attentions, etc." When something is dull, it is uninteresting. When something is tedious, it's monotonous. Yeah, I'm pretty sure you know what unwelcome attentions are all about. If a part of what keeps you from having as many great days as you would like is because you feel like a hamster who's running endlessly on the wheel of life, something that you can do to break out of that is to try something new. It can be as simple as taking a different route to work or going to a new restaurant for lunch. Or, how about hopping onto a website like Skillshare to take a photography or graphic design class, or reaching out to a person who can help you to start a new business? Maybe it's trying a new color of nail polish or finally getting that new haircut that you've been eyeing.
Something that is dope about the start of each day is it comes with a freshness that beckons us to attempt something that we never have before. It's a clear reminder that if your life feels a little ho-hum, it usually has less to do with your circumstances and more to do with your choices. Why not make it a goal to do something new every day and see how that decision makes you feel?
3. “Whose life can I make better?”
Maybe one day I'll get into how, if "being happy" is your biggest goal in life, that actually could end up costing you in the long run. Yeah, that might sound weird on the surface, but even the famed poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well"; one way to live well is to do something for someone else. There is a Scripture in the Bible that says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35) and I promise you, the days when I have made it a point and purpose to bless someone in some way, those are the days when I've had the most joy and peace. No matter what is—or isn't—going on in your world right now, if you take a moment to get the focus off of you and put it on someone else, it has a remarkable way of putting a smile on your face…and theirs.
4. “What do I bring to the table in a way that no one else can?”
Someone who I've been a fan of, ever since I saw her in the movie Lovely & Amazing, is actor Raven Goodwin. Whether it's the series Being Mary Jane, the movie Christmas Belles or the upcoming biopic, The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel (peep some of the singing here), I've enjoyed watching her evolution as an actor and also the confidence she portrays as a woman; specifically a Black woman. She challenges the myth that skin tone or size can prevent someone from totally glowing up. For me, that's a great reminder that individuality, along with poise, self-awareness and self-assurance can cause you to make a real impact in any room that you walk into.
When you wake up every morning and declare to your own damn self that you are special, relevant and very necessary, for such a time as this, it can give you the courage and boldness that you need to obtain whatever it is that you desire. And when you know that the world truly is yours, how can you not feel great about the day that is before you?
5. “Does my life look like how it actually feels?”
I must admit that when I first read about Instagram now provides a "false image" warning on the photoshopped images that appear on the platform, the first thing I did was chuckle. It really is kind of crazy how used we've gotten so used to seeing things through a filter that we freak out at the mere thought of seeing them as they truly are. But that sermon is for another day. The reason why I think it's relevant to this particular point is because it's a reminder to remember how important it is to live your actual life with realness and authenticity. You have no idea how many rich and famous people are depressed, right at this very moment, and it's basically because the life you read about is not the life they are actually living—or feeling.
Facades have destroyed many people. One way to ensure that you will have the kind of day that you truly can feel good about is to promise yourself that you will be honest with yourself, that you will speak the truth to others and that you will be genuine in all that you do. When you can end the day knowing that you can feel good about how your life appears, because you are showing your actual self, that is a kind of high that is truly hard to beat.
6. “What am I going to do to treat myself at the end of the day?”
It happens to the best of us. "It" being how sometimes, we wake up and we already know that the day ahead of us is gonna be an unavoidable trip. It might be due to a staff meeting, a big project, a presentation, a certain conversation that we need to have or some other type of stressor. Even when you know that you are gonna be tried and tested, you can still have a great day. All you need to do is give yourself something to look forward to—a bottle of wine, a mani/pedi, a long soak in the bath…something that can keep you smiling, no matter what life shoots at you throughout the day.
Personally, I think that since no two days are alike, this means that every day, I deserve to treat myself. It doesn't always have to be something big. Just something that reminds me to pat myself on the back for a job well done. What are you gonna do for yourself today, sis? For surviving it, I can already assure you that you've totally earned it.
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