Today is the best day of my life!

“Today is the best day of my life!”

So might say an Olympian winning a gold medal, parents on the day their child is born, a student when they get their university scholarship, a drought-stricken farmer after the first rain, a startup founder receiving their first round of investment, or a lucky punter winning the lottery.

While all those are understandable, I heard of this insight mentioned by a young man after he spent a day hanging out with his mum at work over the summer holidays.

The young man and I shared similar experiences over two days in regional Australia. We both sat in the cafe sharing our favourite drink — mine a large skinny cappuccino, his a chocolate milkshake. While his mother and I had conversations about mapping and developing the entrepreneur and creative sectors of the region, he took pictures of the street with his iPad.

Later in the library, I worked with the team discussing strategies for building local economic development capability. The young man sat with us, working with scissors and tape to create a paper man he would later buckle up in the car and take home.

“Today is the best day of my life!”

Hearing this statement automatically infers a position relative in time. If today is the best day, then we must assume it to be better than all the days that came before. The older we get, the more weight the statement holds.

There was also no regard for comparing his best day to someone else’s best day. Pictures with iPads and cutting paper men was his best day. Other young people may be at water parks, while still others may be at home doing work. His best day was for him and him alone.

There was also no aspect of seeing his best day through the eyes of others. What I judge as my best day will likely be different from what you would say is my best day. The declaration of their best day by a CEO of a Fortune 500 company may be influenced by the views of company shareholders, that of school teacher by parents, colleagues, and students. We may feel the need to defend such a statement by those whose opinion we respect.

It is unlikely the young man’s frame of reference was based on an assessment of previous best days. His recollection, if there was any, would have been based on his collected wisdom as he moves from kindergarten to big-person school. I also doubt that relative subjectivity went into his statement. He was unlikely to consider whether his parents or playgroup friends agreed with his declaration.

“Today is the best day of my life!”

The young man’s statement and my own epiphany is a timely reminder. Much of life can be spent comparing to a past standard, assessing gaps in the current situation, or in anticipation of a future potential that might be better than today. The result is that it becomes increasingly unlikely you will ever say “this is the best day of my life”.

The truth from innocence that came from the young man is that every day is the best day of my life. Every day contains varying degrees of success and suffering, elation and depression, learning and validation.

Saying today is the best day of my life is not a subjective assessment. It is a declaration of fact. It is finding joy in wherever the hand is applied, be it crafting strategies, creating meals, curating policy, or cutting out paper people.

I am fortunate to be able to work with amazing leaders in regions. The people I meet are passionate, insightful, creative, dedicated, compassionate, humble, and resilient. The challenges faced in regions are complex, no single individual or organisation can address the challenges, and we collectively are making progress. I am able to work with incredible people and the work is rewarding.

Some days are spent preparing for the work, other days do not go as planned, and challenges in regions need to be shared to be understood. But it is all building to make a real and lasting impact with a cohort of amazing people. It creates a context where every day is the best day of my life.

It has been an intense year of pandemic and PhD. I have big plans for 2021. I am grateful for the gift of innocent wisdom that provides a valuable perspective as we collectively prepare for the New Year.

And may today be the best day of your life. :)

American & Australian, playing in the cross-section of people, business and digital, with a passion for discovering how we all tick