Some might call this a lousy morning. I woke up to find our front screen frozen shut. It took me over 10 minutes to pry it open.
Our two dogs couldn’t understand why I wasn’t just opening the door like normal. Every time I would push at the screen the dogs would assume I had now stopped my nonsense and charge forward, knocking me aside.
They would bounce off the screen, look at me confused and then the whole thing would start over as I went back to trying to let us out.
Dante just sat down and started howling at me. Cheeky prodded the back of my legs with his claws to hurry me along. This didn’t help as I was also confused.
I had stayed up far too late working and had only been asleep a few hours. I was still wearing pajamas and hadn’t had coffee. I just wanted to open the door, let the dogs out and go back to the warm bed.
Just the screen was frozen. The other door was fine. I accidentally detached the outside door from the screen only to have it swing open wide, letting the frigid morning in. I couldn’t reach through the frozen screen to shut it again so we were trapped with the door wide open.
It was me in my jammies and two dogs that had to pee staring through the screen out on a frozen landscape that seemed intent on creeping it’s way inside. After I finally pried the it open and released the dogs I found out the cold had crept inside and all our pipes were frozen. Me and my cold toes realized I had no water, no heat and no sleep. So far, today sucks… I thought to myself. It’s moments like these when I realize I’m going to have to choose to have a good day.
I love it when good days just happen by themselves. Those are the days when exactly what you came to the store for happens to be on sale, you get the parking spot up front and your kids don’t squabble. Your hair looks great and you find the library book you thought you lost. Spontaneous good days are the magic hours that time spins into sweet nostalgia. Those days are rare.
Usually we get decent days at best, or crappy days when everything goes wrong. There is no magic in these days, only annoyance. These are the days you celebrate at they pass away into midnight, glad to see them die. As much as I don’t like to see them, the mediocre and crappy days are the most important days in our lives. It’s these days that require us to make a conscious decision to have a good day in spite of everything.
The phrase in spite of is often thought of as doing something to spite, or cause mischief, to someone else.
More broadly it means “without being affected by the particular factor mentioned,” and that’s how I use it. I’m going to have a good day regardless of outside factors. When you learn to have a good day in spite of everything going up in flames, you have learned to be happy.
To get there, however, you have to have bad days. It’s a little like bravery. Can a man be called brave if he never feels fear? In the same way, anyone can smile when everything is rosy but their happiness is in the moment, not the person. It’s the person that can smile into the face of opposition that has true joy.
Fortunately, bad days and hardship are plentiful for us all, so we all have the chance to excel at learning true joy and happiness. A small flame is only noticed in a dark room but because of its place in the lack of light, no one can look away from its shine.
In the same way, if we want to become the kind of people that shine in this world, making it better, we have that chance with us always. We only need to choose to be happy in spite of it all.
Today, I’m choosing to be happy in spite of it all. It doesn’t mean I won’t lose my temper. I fully expect to voice many expletives before this day ends. Choosing joy means that when I lose it I will force myself to find the good and smile anyways, taking responsibility for my own happiness.
Once you learn that trick, no one can take it away and you have found true happiness.