“Please don’t have a nice day.
Have a day that matters.
Have a day that’s true.
Have a day that’s direct.
Have a day that’s honest. . . .
Have a day that means something.”
~Harriet Lauler (played by Shirley MacLaine) in The Last Word (2:00)
These words caught me by surprise as I watched The Last Word in the middle of a twelve-hour flight, and they stayed with me for days.
In the movie, Harriet Lauler, a demanding and widely disliked retiree, recruits a young obituary writer from the local paper to help redeem her legacy. At the age of 81, Harriet becomes a disc jockey for a local experimental radio station, sharing her life’s lessons between records, and, in the process, turns from a bitter, controlling woman into a caring, compassionate one.
One morning on air, she gives us this wisdom: “Please don’t have a nice day. . . . Have a day that means something.”
A Purposeful Day Does Not Always Equal a Nice Day.
Since watching the movie, I’ve noticed how many times I say or hear others say, “Have a nice day,” and there is no real meaning behind it!
Reflecting back on the most meaningful moments in my life, I realize I often associate these times with my biggest challenges: giving birth, sending my children off to college, attending my mom’s funeral, and other events that would not make for a “nice” day. What makes a day meaningful might be a learning moment that helps us move forward with life.
So what if we took Harriet’s advice and encouraged one another to “Have a meaningful day” or “Have a day that matters” instead?
Playing with the idea of changing such an overused phrase led me to a bigger exploration of another oft-repeated message:
Life is short. We should make the most of it, and live a life that matters.
Living a Life That Matters Starts The Moment You Wake Up.
One of the foundational principles I live by and share with the women I work with is the importance of developing a routine that helps you start your morning with a positive state of mind and a grounded feeling that can carry you into your day. The first thing you do when you wake up is crucial. As Louise Hay says in her famous phrase, “Start your day how you want to live your day.”
Rather than allowing your mood and your circumstances first thing in the morning to shape your day, what if you start by focusing on what’s most important to you?
My Favorite Way to Start My Day With Purpose:
I like to start my day with a question, but I don’t force myself to come up with an answer. I let the answer emerge while I meditate and give Reiki to myself.
Asking the same question every morning is fun because the different answers make it interesting. At the same time, it’s nice to change the morning question from time to time.
I recommend only asking one question each morning but to alternate between two or three different questions.
Here are three of my favorite questions to ask in the morning:
- What am I here for today?
- How do I choose to feel today?
- What’s my ONE THING for today?
This last question is inspired by Gary Keller’s bestseller The One Thing, and I will have to dedicate a whole blog to this book because it is a valuable and thought-provoking resource. My question is a variation on the original question presented in the book, “What’s the ONE THING I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary??
So now I challenge you to experiment:
- Choose a question that inspires you.
- Use one of the three options I shared, or come up with your own.
- Create a morning ritual that allows you to sit quietly with yourself for a few minutes.
- If you already maintain a morning practice, add the question to your practice.
- Once you ask the question, accept whatever comes up with ease and no judgment. It might be a word, a few words, a sentence, or even a mental image.
- Ask the same question for a few days before deciding if you want to switch to another one.
- You can write down the answers in a journal or a small writing pad (I use a tiny notebook just for my morning answers).
Have fun in the process!
Remember: Living a life that matters means being intentional and deliberate from the moment you wake up. Starting your day with one question will get you started on your quest!