I was paying for $25 worth of gas. The lady behind the counter asked, "Did you fill it up?"
I said, "No, but I had to get some. My warning light has been on for miles."
"Well, the price is going up 20 cents a gallon today."
"Twenty cents?! Oh well, I guess I'll deal with it."
I signed my receipt and she said, "Have a nice day!"
"Thanks! You too!" I shot back. Then I went to my truck to finish my errands. I started to think about twenty cents more for the other ten gallons which would fit in my tank. So I stopped at the next station I came to and filled it up the rest of the way.
Sure enough, as I drove my that station again an hour later the price of gas was twenty cents higher than what I had paid earlier. I guess she meant what she said about gas prices. Then for some reason, my mind drifted back to her last words to me -- "Have a nice day!" Now those words are repeated ad nauseum with little meaning at all most of the time. It's like when someone asks you, "How are you?" They really don't want to know about your arthritis and how little sleep you've been getting or about that spot on the bottom of your foot that you have to bandage every morning. They're just waiting for you to say, "Fine," or to make some cute comment that will acknowledge that the two of you had some sort of conversation. But what if it was a sincere wish? What if that woman really wants you to have a nice day?
I decided that since she knew about the price of gas and was so nice about it, I'd go out and try to have a nice day. So, I did. I figured it was the least I could do.
It wasn't tough to have a nice day. The afternoon temperature was around 72 for the first time this year with sunny skies. We sat out watching my oldest son's baseball game and he hit a bases-loaded double to score three runs. We came home and my wife made a quick dinner. Then afterward, my three year-old went down and played a computer game while my wife and I sat around the dinner table talking to our sons.
The boys are 13 and 11 and different as night and day. The older one is quiet and reserved while the younger boy is loud and a bit crazy. But they are both very good kids. And funny. We sat and laughed like we hadn't done for weeks. We didn't have to hurry to go somewhere else. We didn't have to rush around getting things done. We just stayed and enjoyed one another's company. It was wonderful. It was a great way to finish a "nice day." I sure am glad that lady told me to have a nice day!
I'm not a big "Possibility Thinker" a la Robert Schuller. But I do think our values have a lot to do with our happiness. Paul wrote that he had learned to be happy no matter the circumstances. Now that may seem extreme to us, but is it really? If we are not content with what we have, why would we be content after acquiring the next item of our dreams? Is any situation in life enough for us to finally accept it with joy?
Most everyone has met a classic pessimist. This is the person who not only sees the glass as half empty, but also wants to know who stole the rest of his drink! These are people who can see the dark cloud on any sunny day, and quite frankly will never be satisfied. They will get on your last nerve if you spend much time with them. On the opposite side is the eternal optimist, always thinking things will get better. But neither one of these people is looking at things the way Paul did. The pessimist revels in despair. The optimist is certain that better days are ahead. But the Christian outlook as explained by Paul is that your happiness is not determined by the things in your life, but in the relationship with your Savior. Troubles come and troubles go in this life, but Christ brings true happiness. And we are called to remind ourselves of that fact. "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things." Your happiness is easier to maintain if you are happy in your realtionship with your Creator. If you decide that your happiness depends on what happens to you today, then good luck because you're sure to need it.
Oh, and have a nice day.