serene ambition™

transforming the culture of aging

No More Bad Days

Posted by Jim Selman on 11/27/06

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 others.

How 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.

© 2006 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.

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