I had a great day yesterday. I got up early with my son and we got ready for the day together. I dropped him off at school and had a great workout at the Y, then I showered and ate an early lunch that was healthy and delicious. I worked on an important project for a couple of hours before I picked my son up to take him to his taekwondo class. I got to watch him practice his moves while also getting a little work done. We drove home and I cooked a simple, healthy dinner before I had a productive meeting with the officers of a club I belong to. The meeting ended in time for me to snuggle with my son before he fell asleep. It was a great day.

I had a lousy day yesterday. I didn’t get up as early as I wanted to and I didn’t eat as healthy a breakfast as I usually do. I went to a new class at the Y and I didn’t know what the heck I was doing so I kept messing up the steps. The people behind me must have been cursing me! The class also went longer than I thought it would so I got behind in my schedule. I only had a couple of hours to work on an important project and I didn’t get much done. I rushed to pick my son up and take him to taekwondo, and rushed home to cook dinner, which I did—unfortunately, it was ready at 7 PM, just as my fellow club members arrived for our meeting. I didn’t eat until 9 PM! It was a lousy day.

Obviously, this was one day, not two. I feel like I lived the first day and I really had to think about the second day to write it the way I did. But if I thought my day was a lousy day, I would have experienced it as a lousy day.

Our thoughts about the circumstances of the day are what create the experience of the day. Because I thought I had a great day, I went to bed feeling like I’d been productive and happy. If I had thought I’d had a lousy day, I probably would have gone to bed feeling defeated and exhausted. Believe me, I’ve had those days!

I have come to see that any circumstance is neutral until we have a thought about it. I’ve been training my brain for years to notice the positive. I’ve had to overcome a lot of hardwiring—it’s much easier for us to notice the negative than to notice the positive, but that doesn’t mean the negative is more prevalent than the positive, it just means we see what we expect to see.

I don’t always see the positive, but it’s much easier for me than it used to be. The only way to become more positive, to have better days, is to consciously, deliberately—and with great effort—notice what is good, what is happening for you, not against you, and to practice doing this over and over.

When you have a thought like: It’s raining so hard, the commute is going to be awful! Consciously choose to think a more positive thought: I get to listen to that biography on Einstein the whole way! 

Take the time to train your brain. Become aware of what you’re thinking and consciously choose to think something more positive (or less negative, if positive is still a stretch for you.)

You’ll be surprised by how many great days are waiting for you to experience!