Good days. Bad days. What’s the difference between the two? Why are there days when you have a generous attitude toward other people? You stop and let the other driver go first. You tell the person behind you in the check out lane at the grocery store—the one who only has three items when you have ten—that they can go ahead of you.
But then there are those days when you cuss the driver in front of you and rush to beat the other person to the checkout lane, justifying your actions because you’re in a hurry. You cuss and you fuss over the littlest things. You have little goodwill toward yourself or others.
What’s the difference between these “good” days and “bad” days?
I know what the difference is for me. Actually, there are two factors. One is hope and the other is my behavior. When I have hope about my future, I am more relaxed, appreciative, patient, and understanding. When I don’t have hope, I contract, start worrying, and have less tolerance for other people’s foolishness.
Creating hope has to do with having a healthy personal narrative, which means that you have made sense of your past and therefore are better able to create a compelling future that you look forward to. But, depending on the circumstances of your life, there are times when it’s not a simple thing to create hope. Sometimes, before we can create hope we must overcome certain obstacles and challenges. Although some things can be resolved quickly, others take time. So hope is not always immediately available to everyone.
When hope is not readily available to you, the next best thing I can recommend is to focus on behavior. When I behave well, I feel good about myself—even proud—and I am more relaxed, appreciative, patient, and understanding. When I behave poorly, or immaturely, I become self critical and then critical of others.
The difference between hope and behavior is that hope is about the future, behavior occurs in the present moment. No matter what your future holds for you, you can behave well now, and if you do, you’ll have more good days.