“Please don’t have a nice day. Have a day that matters. Have a day that’s true. Have a day that’s direct. Have a day that’s honest. A nice day…mmm…you’ll be miserable…Have a day that means something.” ~ Harriet Lauler (played by Shirley McLaine) in the movie The Last Word
I was flying at 30,000 feet on a recent flight when I heard these words. They're from the movie The Last Word starring Shirley McLaine as the character who speaks these words, Harriet Lauler.
In The Last Word, Harriet is a retired businesswoman who tries to control everything around her. When she decides to write her own obituary, a young journalist takes up the task of finding out the truth resulting in a life-altering friendship. (from You Tube clip)
There’s a message that is woven throughout the movie that is best illustrated in one particular scene. About 2/3 into the movie, Harriet, at eighty, becomes a disc jockey and starts her program with the words above.
The words caught me by surprise. Like a distant echo they resonated inside me, calling me to attention through a half sleepy fog on my flight back to Ecuador. I was reminded how often I hear those words on phone greetings or as a goodbye to personal meetings.
I always found them to be shallow and a bit trite.
“Have a nice day.” What does that really mean?
Does it mean my day will be easy, comfortable, without any surprises?
Does it mean that the sun will shine and flowers will bloom as I walk past?
Does it mean that all heartache, illness and catastrophe will miraculously cease in the world?
I don’t want to have a nice day.
It’s not that I don’t want all these things. It’s not that I wouldn’t welcome a day of ease and comfort with the sun shining and only good news flooding my social media.
But that would be it, wouldn’t it? It would end there in ease and comfort.
And I would be just as I have always been, no growth, no evolution, nothing creative to offer the world or myself.
She’s right. I’d be miserable.
What if every day you woke up and wished yourself a day that was true, honest, direct?
What if every day you chose relationships and activities that changed you, made you better?
What if every day you consciously sought meaning and significance doing things that really matter to you? Not doing things that matter to others but doing things that matter, truly matter, to you?
Your life would be fully aligned and in harmony with your deepest purpose. And from there you would affect those around you generating the energy of possibility in every encounter.
That would become your legacy.
Those small moments, like pearls on a necklace, fragile encounters along a string of time that together would create a beautiful and masterful life.
How could you wish for anything less?
Too easily we become burdened by our daily routines and responsibilities. They are at the forefront of every morning. These tasks that we believe make up our lives that hold little meaning in the face of life’s existential questions.
We lose our direction, forgetting the reason we do what we do.
We forget what really matters especially when the challenges of surviving in a complex, fast paced and often cold and hostile world overwhelm us.
We must not forget who we are truly, that glowing flame that lights the way for us through infinity.
Even if it is only for one moment when we open our eyes and breathe in the new day, to be conscious that we can choose to look for beauty and experience grace in the smallest moments.
That yes, our lives matter but only if we choose for them to matter.
Only by embracing the truth of who you are can you create a life of significance.
So, no, I’m not going to wish you a nice day.
I’m going to challenge you to have a day where what you do matters so that you will finally understand…
...that you matter more than you ever knew.
If you're interested in seeing the trailer for The Last Word movie, here it is.