5 ways to make today a good day

By Scott Westerman
Listen to an audio version of this message.

Scott’s Maxim: “Happiness is a decision.” 

Here are five easy steps that can make any day a good day.

Compliment someone – We live in a what-are-you-doing-for-me-now world, where yesterday’s accomplishments become meaningless and conversations center on what we’re not doing right. Nothing makes a person feel better than to hear the words of appreciation. “I love the way you keep your cool when everybody else is losing theirs.” “I love watching you dance.” “I love your personal style. That suit looks great.” Try opening a conversation with something like that and the whole interaction can take on a different tone.

Put money in somebody else’s parking meter. – Think of this as a metaphor for philanthropy. Whether it’s giving someone you don’t know another 10 minutes to get back to their car without a parking ticket, or writing a check to a non-profit you care about, the act of giving can often bring as much joy to the giver as it does to the recipient.

Call a friend without any agenda other than asking how they are. I keep a  mental Rolodex filled with the names and phone numbers of the most important people in my life. I try to work my way through that list, contacting at least one of them every day just to ask them my favorite question, “How’s life?” It can be a short conversation. “I was thinking of you and just wanted to check in.” In today’s digital age it can be something as simple as a, “Hope you’re having a good day!” text message.

Send a handwritten note. There is a box of MSU themed cards and envelopes in my backpack. After I’ve picked up a business card, or if I’m on an airplane, I try to write a quick note or two. It’s old fashioned, but these days it’s so rare that when you get one in the mail it has impact. A digital version of this idea is one of my favorites. I send tons of Postagrams out every week. Postagrams are inexpensive digital post cards that include a picture from my smart phone and a brief message. They are easy to create, fun to receive and often find find their way onto cubicle walls and refrigerators.

Think of something you are grateful for. No matter how lousy a day you may have had, there is always something to be thankful for. When my flight is delayed, when I get bad news, or on those rare occasions when the Ben Franklin Balance Sheet tips lopsidedly toward the negative, I think about how much I love my wife, my children, my closest friends and the people I am lucky enough to work with. These are life’s most amazing gifts. It’s easy to take them for granted on the bad days. Don’t.

What’s the best part of cultivating these habits? Besides making your day a good one, you may well inspire others to model your behavior.

Positivity is contagious. Spread it around.