In my home, there is a lovely little painting placed prominently by the front door. It is one of the first things I see as I set out each day. The painting shows nine simple words: “Today could be the best day of your life.”
This message was put to canvas by my wife, and it reminds us both daily of a simple, universal truth.
I read it every day, as I have for years. And on each day it has been true. Each and every day has the potential to be the best day of your life so far. Not all will prove to be so, but if you open yourself to the possibility, then a great many of them will surprise you.
Of the days that painting has stood on display, many have been the best of my life.
Some are exactly the big landmark days you may be picturing – On one of them I got married, on another I graduated college, and on at least one of those days I went to Disneyland. There was one when I started a dream job, and another when I walked away from it.
But they don’t all have to be the big showstoppers. On one of the best days of my life I, a grown-ass adult, made a large living room blanket fort from which to eat snacks and watch cartoons with my best friend. And on one of them, I played (and decisively lost) a game of Risk. Another involved following a scavenger hunt I had put together for someone I care about.
A day with a Disneyland-level of awesome can come in many shapes and sizes. You could have one today, and tomorrow, and the next day. And do note that I’m not saying ‘or.’
Happiness is a Skill
One thing that often gets lost in the pursuit of happiness is that happiness is itself a pursuit. Feeling happy is a skill to practice, not a thing to have. Rainbows are a symbol for happiness and pots of gold are not. It’s not a destination. It’s a journey, comma, man.
Happy people take their mental health seriously. They accept life’s more difficult moments, and they don’t let those moments define them. They choose to be positive and create their own happiness.
Happy days, then, are a matter of our ability to create and embrace positivity. They are not just lying there waiting for us to stumble into them.
Wonderful events will come, and so will terrible ones. Some are just easier to enjoy than others. You can’t control that. What you can control is how you choose to experience them.
You can have a bad day at Disneyland, and you can have a good day at the funeral of someone you loved and miss dearly. I’d know; I’ve done both.
Now, I don’t mean that you should force yourself to “feel good” at every moment. You don’t have to put pressure on any situation to be something that it is not.
The point is that you aren’t confined to any presumption of what your day must feel like. Each day has the potential to be one of your best yet, but it doesn’t get that chance if you aren’t open to it.
Joy is what happens when a positive attitude overlaps with pleasant circumstances. In other words, it’s when preparation meets opportunity. Will you be prepared when the opportunity comes for the next best day of your life?
There’s No Limit
The movie Office Space, on the surface, is a fun, goofy workplace comedy. But just underneath is an empowering story about personal choice, building self-respect, and finding freedom in the face of the existential terror of an unfulfilling life.
I’ve always loved one scene in particular, in which the protagonist tells his therapist, “Ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.”
His therapist responds, “wow, that’s messed up.”
From the first time I saw the movie, I’ve been fascinated with this scene for one reason: What he’s describing, however unlikely, is entirely possible. The math checks out.
If you start on the worst day of your life, and each subsequent day is worse than that, even if only slightly, then every day would technically be the worst day of your life up to that point. His observation is valid.
And its inverse is just as valid.
If yesterday was the best day of your life, it doesn’t mean that you’ve peaked. Today can be the best day of your life all over again. Great days don’t prevent you from having more great days. Contrariwise, the more you practice happiness, the more often you’ll be able to experience the best day of your life.
There is no limit to how often you can live one of the best days of your life. And there is also no ceiling to how high those days can rise. Keep yourself open to positivity, and you’ll find yourself living the best day of your life time and time again.
Be Ready for the Next Best Day of Your Life
The painting that hangs by my front door reminds me every day, as it absolutely bears repeating: “Today could be the best day of your life.”
We cannot know, when we start our day, what all will happen or how it will affect us. Inevitably some moments will be amazing, and others will flat-out suck. At each of these moments, and all in between, we have a choice. It is for us to decide whether to lift ourselves higher, or pull ourselves down.
The only thing we know for sure is that every day has the possibility for greatness. We’re far more likely to find that greatness when we practice the skill of positivity and stay open to the unique happiness that today could bring.
Keep reminding yourself of this potential, and happiness will find its way to you far more than you’d believe. Give today a fair chance, and it just might be the best day of your life.