My daughter was telling me this morning that the announcements came to her class last Friday. I asked her what that meant and she explained, “We got to lead the Pledge of Allegiance for the whole school. Then we said, ‘Choose to have a good day’ right after.”
Choose? Surprised, I looked at her and said, “That was a nice thing to add.”
She said, “We say that every day after the Pledge.”
Maybe my daughter has told me this little ritual about her new school before, but for some reason it stuck with me today.
“Choose to have a good day”
Not “Have a good day,” or “I hope you have a good day,” which are two phrases I use often as my kids rush out the door.
Her school doesn’t even say, “Try your very hardest to have a good day and chances are, you will.” But they use the simple word, “choose,” and they use it each and every day.
Interestingly enough, I taught a lesson yesterday in my church about this very thing. I teach an adult class on the Book of Mormon every Sunday (Gospel Doctrine)–which I love–and yesterday’s lesson was about a young man named Nephi.
Nephi was the fourth son of a prophet who lived in Jerusalem around 600BC. This prophet, Lehi, was told by the Lord that his family must leave their home, their beds, their gold and food, and travel into the desert. Nephi’s older brother’s weren’t too keen on this. In fact, they complained quite regularly throughout the journey. In all fairness, their travels were under extreme conditions–think Saudi Arabia in mid-July without any modern-day conveniences. They’d probably never lived out of a tent before. Probably never walked that far in their life. There wasn’t much fresh water or shade. There wasn’t a Delta Airlines flight to take them where they needed to go. There wasn’t even a Taco Bell around the corner when they ran out of food. So when Nephi’s bow broke–their only source of food–the complaining went hog-wild (without the hog).
I tried to picture myself in the heat of a desert, without food, watching not just myself, but my entire family including my little kids starving.
Quite frankly, I would have been in the front of the line at the complaint department.
Even the prophet Lehi was dragged into the murmuring. But not Nephi, good old Nephi. He had this attitude that the Lord commanded them to leave, so they might as well make the best of it. He went out, found some wood (in the middle of a desert) and made his own bow and arrow. All without complaint. Needless to say, he came back with enough food to save his entire family, including all the complainers.
In short, he chose to have a good day.
Too often I get sucked into the popular and all-too-easy notion that things are forcing me to behave a certain way. I didn’t get enough sleep so I’m going to be grumpy today. The kids are fighting so I have to yell back. Yeah. Not cool. But what makes this extremely uncool is that my attitude affects the entire family. My husband might be grumpy, or one of the kids, and the rest of us get along just fine. But if Mom’s grumpy? Forget it. The domino effect takes all of 10 seconds and suddenly the whole family is grouching at each other. It’s horrible, but it’s my reality. It all starts with me.
I’ve set the goal for this week at least, that I will CHOOSE to have a good day each and every day. It’s a choice. It’s a choice. It’s a choice. Maybe if I tell myself enough times (and put it in writing), it will stick. Like I taught yesterday, attitude changes actions and I’m ready to change some of mine. I’m hoping that if I have a good attitude, not only will I choose to have a good day, but I’ll find a way to actually MAKE it a good day. Or as my friend likes to tell me, “Fake it ’til you make it.”
One of the most inspiring stories of this kind of attitude is Viktor Frankl, a well-known Holocaust survivor. His pregnant wife was taken and killed by the Nazis. His parents, too. Even his brothers. Viktor was stripped of his clothing, his pride, and everything in the world that mattered, yet he chose to remain positive in those concentration camps, which in turn ended up saving his life. He lived to be 92 and spoke often of his experiences. If you don’t know who he is, google him or look him up in your local library. His life is truly inspiring.
One of his most profound quotes is this:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the
human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of
circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Attitude changes actions