Every day, the average person makes dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of decisions. There are articles that claim there are 500 decision in a day, and others that claim 5,000, so, although I have not attempted to count the number of decisions in any of my days, I am comfortable saying that we make a LOT of decisions. Regularly. Many, many decisions, every day, from trivial to major to life changing.
Heck, it’s a decision from the moment we awaken whether to get up or not. My morning decision about getting up is usually driven by my dog, who has a steady, unwavering inner clock that does not adjust for the human conventions of daylight and standard time. Half the year, he wakes me up every morning at 6, and in the fall when we turn the clocks back an hour, he wakes me up every morning at 7. That is when I have to decide to either haul my butt out of bed immediately or tell him 10,000 times to “be quiet,” and “go lay down,” before conceding defeat and get up. On the mornings I need to be up promptly, I thank him for his reliable service.
After the getting out of bed deliberation, the day is one decision after another, some so automated they have moved from active thinking and conscious decision-making to routine habit. Breakfast now or later .. what for breakfast ... what to wear ... what route to take ... you get the idea.
Along the course of my many days on this earth, I finally (FINALLY!) landed on a key decision that helps me nearly every day that I consciously make it. (I say ‘nearly’ because I don’t want to swear it’s foolproof, but it’s pretty darned good.)
When I wake up, I make a deliberate effort to have a great day. I DECIDE I WILL have a great day. And you know what? Most of the time it works. MOST of the time. I’ll take it.
The first time I tried it, I was a bit skeptical. Ok, I was really skeptical. It went against my usual mindset which tended towards what some call “pessimistic” and I call “realistic.” My attitude was, if I expected great things, and they didn’t happen, it was disappointing, and if the expectation was low and great things happened, it was a lovely surprise.
But when I consciously decided things would go well, and they did, over and over again, meeting the expectation of ‘great’ felt even better than the surprise when things went well when expecting mediocre. It was great.
Sometimes external forces like the weather or the economy make things tough. I can’t decide to change the weather or the economy (trust me, I’ve tried), but I can decide to make the best of how I deal with mother nature and the economy. And traffic. And grumpy customers. I remind myself that the weather and traffic and customers are temporary, and none of them will be improved by an increase in aggravation. Dealing with the economy is a bit trickier, and it’s fortunate I like ramen and thrift stores.
Sure I get derailed. Yes, I slip into old habits. But I try to be mindful an reset my viewpoint when needed. Like developing many habits, for some of us, the habit of deciding to be more positive takes practice. Soon it will be second nature (my first one served its purpose and needs to go). I’ll get there.