It’s Monday morning, I’m walking in our neighborhood, and it’s the first day of school. School buses are crisscrossing the neighborhood like bees swarming a hive. Parents and children are gathered in groups along the streets. Kids are dressed in new school clothes and toting new book bags. Parents are lining up fidgety kids for those infamous first day of school pictures, while cheerily encouraging them about what a great day it will be and what a great year they’re going to have. It’s the first day of school!
Do you remember your first day of school? What about your first day of high school? Your first day of college? Your first day on the job? Your first day of marriage? Your first day as a parent? Your first day as an empty nester? Your first day of retirement?
Life is full of “first days.” As the cliché goes, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”
First days are important. They set the tone for what’s to follow. That’s why those parents were out there with their kids, waiting on the bus and telling them what a great day they would have. They knew that if their kids had a good first day there was a better chance of the following days being good.
What’s this got to do with marriage? Marriage is full of “first days.” We’ve already mentioned some biggies:
- The first day of marriage.
- The first day of parenting.
- The first day of empty nest.
- The first day of retirement.
But there are even more smaller “first days:”
- The first day in a new house.
- The first day of vacation.
- The first day of an illness.
- The first day of an exercise plan.
- The first day of an argument.
- The first day of a diet.
- And the ever popular first day of the week.
Whether it’s the first day of something big, or just the first day of the week, marriage is like waiting for the bus on the first day of school. The better we face the “first days”, the better the following days will be.
So, here are five tips to help you face any “first day:”
- Be optimistic…even when you feel pessimistic. When a parent tells their nervous first grader that their first day of school is going to great, they are encouraging optimism. It takes just as much brain power to be optimistic as it does to be pessimistic. Some people just need more practice at being optimistic. Remember…you attitude will determine your altitude.
- Jump in…even when you would rather hang back. If you’re going to have a great first day, you will have to take part in making it great. You can have all the ingredients for a great cake, but you will have to do something with those ingredients in order to make a great cake. The same is true if you want to make your first day (or any day) great. You will have to jump in and get involved.
- Make the most of what you have…even if you wish it was different. As I’ve said in other posts, professional poker players make a living playing poker, because even when they get a bad hand they learn to play that hand well. A big key to making the most of life is learning to make the most of what you have.
- Find one thing to be thankful for…even if it’s hard to find. There’s an old hymn that says, “Count your blessings. Name them one by one.” This is good advice. When you focus on things for which you’re thankful, it has a way of changing your perspective and thus your attitude. Start with finding just one thing a day for which to be thankful. It won’t be long before your list is overflowing.
- Find one way to help someone else…even if they don’t ask. Self-focus comes natural to us, but it is a sure way to restrict and constrict your life. When we turn our thoughts and efforts towards helping someone else, it not only helps that person, it lifts our spirits in the process. It’s a win/win.
I’m sure you could add other things to this list, but these are the basics that will improve any “first day..” and the days that follow.
And if they don’t help today…tomorrow’s another “first day!”
I know it’s cliché, but for the next week, try approaching each day as if it were “the first day of the rest of your life.” Use the above strategies. (Come on…it’s only one week!)
Copyright © Bret Legg 2016