Every day is a new day and we start each day with a somewhat fresh slate. We get up and go about our daily activities, going to work, headed to school, some of us interacting with many different people and some with only a few, but at the end of the day a common question that we often hear is something like, “How was your day?” Such a simple question and we often offer up a very simple answer that is not really reflective of the truth of our day:
This is a simple scale of polite responses. Sometimes, we take the time to rehash the ends and outs of our day with a spouse or close friend, but most of the time the default response is to offer up a basic summary that is the AM Radio version much more than the 4K version of reality. But the truth is, we all have good days and bad days. Whether we would speak it out loud or not, if forced to do so, we could give each day a rating that may or may not make a passing grade.
So, the question of this article is, “what determines whether you have a good day or bad day?” Usually, the answer to this question falls into one of 3 categories:
Circumstances can be pretty broad, but for our purposes here, we’ll just say these are things that just happen to us on a certain day. There isn’t a bad guy or gal to blame. You didn’t make a dumb decision. Another person’s selfishness didn’t directly mess up your mojo. Instead, these are the days where mayhem reigns down upon us, when nothing seems to go right. Your car won’t start, the bus is late because of traffic, the milk you just bought is already sour, or the meteor falls out of the sky and just happens to land on your neighbor’s trampoline, which flings it through your back window (not scientifically possible, but a vivid picture). When these days happen, it is easy to feel like we shouldn’t have gotten out of bed. From such days are born the ideas of bad luck, karma and a lot of sitcom episodes I watched growing up.
If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that most of our bad days aren’t like this. For the majority of us, these kind of bad days where everything seems to go wrong are few and far between. However, while they may be rare, what they are is memorable. Chances are, you can still remember a day or two where one circumstance after another seemed to line up in a symphony of catastrophe. Because they are so memorable, these “Murphy’s Law” days are considered a lot more normal of an occurrence than they actually are. Instead, most of the days we define as bad are a result of the other 2 categories.
The second category is the most common one we will blame our bad days on, people. “Honestly, you wouldn’t believe what ‘________’ did/said”. If we were to summarize all of the evils inflicted upon us by our various bosses/co-workers/neighbors/family members/fellow citizens, you would think we had found a new level of hell to descend to. The modern age has expanded this without limits as now we don’t just have the people we encounter face to face in a given day, but we can get upset and potentially have our day ruined by something that we only read or saw, whether on social media, the news or maybe even based on a meme/hearsay that was passed around. Because of this environment, it is possible for every one of us to find something every day to get upset about. The less of a connection we have with someone, the easier it is to assume the worst.
The irony of this is we often end up letting people we don’t even particularly care for determine whether we have a good day or not. For many people, they allow the speech and the actions of a public figure to destroy their state of mind and their ability to enjoy life with the people they do life and work with. Whether this involves people in the same room or people on the other side of the country, it is a horrible idea to tie our joy and happiness to something so volatile as the actions of others.
Who do you want to control whether or not you have a good day? Do you want to give that power to a politician? Do you want your boss at work to continue to live in your head, long after you leave work? There is an expression that has been going around these last few years that talks about letting someone “live rent free in their head”. With our constant access to worldwide information, this is an even more foolish endeavor. It is shocking to see how many people in America have put Obama/Trump/Biden/etc. in charge of their lives. The irony is people are often giving the people they seemingly dislike the most, the greatest amount of power over their happiness.
This doesn’t just stop there, but spills over into other areas of their lives. The digital world means most people don’t have divisions between our work and home, between the outside world and our personal lives. This means that if we are not disciplined in how we engage with these things, we will allow them to dominate every area of our lives. We see a lot of misery in this world today. A lot of unhappiness, and in some people, a complete absence of joy. This is in complete contrast to the life God would have for us.
This brings us to the 3rd category about what determines the outcome of our days: our personal choices. Sometimes, if we are honest, a bad day is bad because of the decisions we made to steer our day in the wrong direction. We respond inappropriately. We take a shortcut that we shouldn’t have taken. We get up late and miss the bus or miss our first meeting. The common denominator in all of our bad days is us and truthfully, we have a lot more to do with most of them than we are comfortable admitting. The driver of our life’s bus is usually us and we are the one who determines more than anything where we start and stop. More importantly, if you are a follower of Christ, our choices are not just in what we do to determine our direction, but in how we respond to the people and circumstances that we deal with each day.
As followers of Jesus, we have a choice to:
- Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry – James 1:19
- Do the right thing – James said it before Spike Lee – 4:17
- Set our minds on things above – Col. 3:2
- Think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise – Phil. 4:8
- Bear with one another in love – Eph. 4:2
- Not grow weary in doing good – Gal. 6:9
- Love our neighbor as ourselves – Matt. 19:19
Choices like these are the ones that will impact your day for the better. Often we lay the foundation for each day by the frame of mind we are in. Starting each day in God’s Word and in prayer can center our joy in Him, and not in our present circumstances. Each new day brings its own challenges and adventures and I would advise against putting other people in charge of your personal joy. Only God is able to give true joy, regardless of circumstances. I guarantee it is a better place to look for your daily hope and fulfilment than anything you will find in this world.
Choosing to surround yourselves as much as possible with people who pursue this same way of living is pivotal as well. We can’t choose who we spend all of our time with, but we can choose whether or not to immerse ourselves in spending time online or in our free time with those who drag us down. Be the kind of person who is salt and light in the lives of others. Bring the light of Christ into their daily lives and season your conversations with Truth that builds up, rather than words that tear down. Make careful choices about who you let ‘move into your head.’ Don’t allow the media or social media to dictate your day. Keep your days grounded in reality and grounded in the truth of God’s Word.
Real life is lived with real people and we shouldn’t allow our bad experiences to isolate us from real life interaction. Find a good church and take the risk to invest in relationships with others. You can still have bad days, but by intentionally making better choices, we can limit both their frequency and their impact.