There are two ways to be able to increase your odds of enjoying a given day, even if the day is full of things that normally seem not that enjoyable.
And who doesn’t want to enjoy the day? Who doesn’t want to go to bed feeling good about life?
The first is to change our thinking.
Just the other day I was rereading Epictetus where he says that it’s not death that frightens us, but the ways we think about death. If that’s true of death, how much more of all the lesser evils that assault us from day to day?
Changing our thoughts, our mental habits, our modes of interpretation and reaction — it takes time and work, but it can be extremely effective.
The second is to change the proportion of good things and bad things in a day.
It sounds simple, but we can try to reduce the number of bad things and increase the number of good things.
Some of the bad things will not be within our control, but some will. If there are unhappinesses brought upon us by laziness or cowardice or by an immoderate desire for pleasure, then we can change the ways we act.
Perhaps it will take time and our habits won’t all change overnight, but if we choose, we can change them. All of them. Setting our minds to it, we can change.
And add in good things. Books. Friends. Engaging goals. Healthy food. Fresh air. Language learning has been a favourite of mine these past couple years.
This second strategy won’t be in everyone’s power every day. But for the great majority of people, in the vast majority of days, this is doable.
The case could be made that it’s fine to have miserable days in the service of some greater good — of earning a degree, or earning a paycheque, or maybe helping others. There is a sliver of truth here, and in rare cases this may be the whole truth.
But most of us (all of us?) ultimately want to be able to enjoy our days. Why not start now?
We can fool ourselves into believing that if we’re happy then we’re wasting our time, and that misery is the cost and the sign of the fact that we’re getting things done. But it’s not true. I promise. The truth is closer to the opposite.