Good Day

How to Have a Great Day and a Better Tomorrow with the Good Day Game

By Matthew Joyce

Alexander went to sleep with gum in his mouth. He woke up with gum in his hair. When he got up he tripped over his skateboard. The day got worse from there. He didn’t get a window seat on the way to school. His mother forgot to pack dessert in his lunch. The dentist said he had a cavity and there were lima beans for dinner.

This is what happens in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day, by Judith Voirst. It’s a classic children’s book, but one most adults can relate to it. After all, who hasn’t had a bad day?

The trouble with a bad day is that you focus on the things that go wrong. And as Alexander discovers, the more you focus on them, the worse things tend to get.

From Bad to Worse

This tendency of things to go from bad to worse illustrates a basic principle of manifestation. That which you bring to your awareness becomes the reality of your experience.

This isn’t mystical mumbo jumbo. It’s common sense. If you focus on the bad things that are happening then that’s what dominates in your awareness. The more you dwell on the negative, the worse things seem to be.

The good news is that if paying attention to the things that go wrong in your day makes your experience unpleasant, then the reverse is also true. So the antidote is to do the opposite.

The Good Day Game

As simple as it sounds, the fastest and easiest way to have a good day is to pay attention to all the good things that happen to you throughout the day. Contrary to the idea of looking for really major events in order to have a good day, it is actually the act of bringing your awareness to the myriad small but positive things in life that can turn a normal day into a great one.

So the trick to having a great day is to focus your awareness on everything that goes your way, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. The more generous you are in your definition of “good things” the faster you’ll start having a good day.

How to Play

The idea is to wake up in the morning and resolve to notice all the things that go well for you throughout the day, no matter how inconsequential they may seem.

The alarm actually goes off. You find two matching socks. The car starts right up. You successfully avoid hitting the garage door on your way out. A song you like plays on the radio. You find a parking place—maybe not right beside the door, but at least you didn’t have to wait for one. Someone compliments you at work. The meeting you are in gets out early. You go to the toilet and the seat is already down or up.

Pile on as many observations as you can. Make yourself laugh at the things you think of. Chances are you’ll be in a good mood before lunchtime.

The idea behind this game is to notice so many little positive things that you can’t keep track of them all. Keep a running list in your head for as long as you can, and when you get a chance write them down in a list. Try to collect so many that you can only remember less than an hour’s worth of items before you need to put them on your list. Keep going throughout the day.

No matter what, don’t pay attention to the negative things that happen. The idea is to keep your negative score at zero—and cheating is OK! If something happens that you don’t like, quickly find something positive to replace it. If your car gets stuck at a busy traffic light, use the time to look out the window, fix your hair in the rearview mirror, tune the radio. Just make sure you don’t let minor negative events muck up the game.

The End Game

At the end of day, just before bed, take a look at your list. It’s undoubtedly going to be filled with little events you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. That’s OK. The sheer volume of them can help you to see how most of the time life is actually going your way.

With so much going your way, it’s easier to see that life really is good. You’ve just missed it from time to time when you’ve been too busy to notice or too distracted by feeling bad.

Even more importantly, chances are that amidst those otherwise unmemorable moments will also be some things that were truly positive and worth remembering. Maybe it was that compliment. Maybe it was a quiet moment with a loved one, or a moment of stillness you found after that big cleansing breath.

The point is that you were paying attention to the goodness that surrounds you in life, and because of that, it turns out that you actually had a good day.

Play with Someone Else

The game is even more fun when you play it with someone else. That way you can each point to the positive moments that the other might have missed. Plus, you can laugh over the items on your respective lists.

Of course, everyone has to follow the rules.

The Rules

There are just a few rules for this game.

  1. Each player must notice as many positive moments as possible.
  2. Players can point out positive moments to others.
  3. All players must immediately reframe negative moments into positive terms.
  4. In case of a neutral moment, count it as positive to increase that player’s score.
  5. All players must record their positive moments.
  6. Scores are to be tallied at the end of the day.
  7. Prizes are awarded based on happiness, laughter, and synchronicities throughout the day. Each time you play you can choose from a list of prizes that you decide, such as a hug from a loved one, a bouquet of flowers, or a warm bubble bath at the end of your day. There’s no way to lose, and everyone wins!

An Even Better Tomorrow

If you play the game once, chances are you’ll want to play it again. (Who doesn’t want a good day?)

Prolonged play increases your momentum and leads to even better things happening. And that in turn makes you want to play the game again the following day. But there’s another game that’s even more fun.

Once you feel like you’ve mastered the Good Day game, try this one: Spend your day constantly on the lookout for ways that will make someone else feel good. Because that will make your day and all your tomorrows even better.

Next Step

Read more articles, and if you haven’t done so already:


(That’s a hint!)

2 Responses to Good Day

  1. Another great article Matthew. Basically, I already do this. I can’t really remember having a bad day for a long, long time. When something negative happens, I laugh it off. I feel I’m a fairly positive person.
    LoveLight, Marilyn

  2. Matthew says:

    @ Marilyn. Thanks for the comment. It’s great to hear that you already play the game. Many people do. But the surprising thing is how many people don’t. It’s so easy, yet the practice eludes them. Perhaps looking for the positive is an inherent character trait in some people, but I believe it’s a practice that can be adopted by anyone who wants to have a good day today and tomorrow.

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