I was watching a Larry King interview the other night in which he
was speaking with a bunch of positive-thinking gurus about their
beliefs and theories. One of the questions he asked was, “Do you have
any bad days”? Most of them said they don’t have bad days, and a couple
said that they still have ‘bumps’ in the road but recover quickly. I
got to thinking about my own life and concluded that I too can claim
that I don’t have bad days, although some are more challenging than
can I account for this fact of my life? Is it maturity, wisdom or
simply good fortune? I certainly would not attribute it to positive
thinking. In fact, I am not a fan of positive thinking: for most
ordinary people, it means suppressing or covering over negative
thinking and doesn’t result in genuine happiness with life—sort of
analogous to smokers who force themselves to quit but are still
‘smokers’ in their ways of being.
For me, having no bad days is more the result of my being
responsible for my judgments as simply my judgments—never true or
false—always just points of view. In my case, this perspective has come
with age, but I don’t think it’s a natural aspect of aging. I have
learned that people observe what they observe, and that how we observe
our world affects how we experience life and influences (if not
determines) our actions and behavior.
The two biggest judgments we make all the time are ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
We judge or assess the value of just about everything we think about.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, “There is nothing good or bad in the
Universe, but thinking makes it so.” So having good or bad days is
entirely a function of our point of view, and our point of view will
determine our experience.
I should add that I don’t think about my days as particularly ‘good’
either. I now use adjectives to describe them that connect more
directly with my commitments and experience. For example, “The day was
deeply satisfying, exciting and challenging.” I also tend to assess my
days as ‘relaxing’, ‘empowering’, ‘difficult’ or ‘interesting’.
I don’t know if using more precise language changes my days in terms
of what happens. But it certainly changes my relationship with what
happens and helps remind me to be present with what is happening, my
experience, and the fact that I have a choice about how I observe my
world based on what I am committed to in a given moment.