I believe in what I refer to as the Something Wonderful Theory. Since you never know when something wonderful is about to happen in your life, you might as live view each new day with optimism and have a smile on your face.
If you think about the moments that really mattered in your life, when you went on your last first date, discovered your favourite writer, got an email from your dream job inviting you for an interview, got sick and needed to spend two weeks in a hotel room in Addis Ababa where you had a life-changing epiphany; they all likely started off as normal days with no expectations.
People often confuse the most memorable days in their lives, the highlight reel moments, with the most impactful. The day someone gets married, delivers their first child, skis in the Alps, quits their job etc. are largely days that represent the culmination of long-processes, where the joy and memory were already telegraphed in advance and priced in.
There is a baseball statistic named Win Probability Added (“WPA”) that provides a helpful illustration of this. WPA quantifies the percentage change in a team’s likelihood of winning the game from one play to the next.
People see a highlight reel diving catch and consider it important; while the catch may look impressive, it still only counts for one out, the same as a routine ground ball.
Similarly, many people assume if a batter hits a two RBI single with the bases loaded, it was likewise an important play (it scored two runs!) – but once the bases are loaded, expected runs are already priced in. In contrast, a solo home run in the third inning (an at-bat that happened with no expectations or excitement), may end up being the highest WPA play in the game.
While its true positive life momentum may increase the likelihood of wonderful things happening and high leverage situations can create larger impact, the reality is it doesn’t matter if you’re having a bad week, a bad month or a bad year, serendipity can bring about life’s most impactful moments at any time, when there’s no expectations or excitement.
In life, we are often too consumed with the thought of hitting a base-loaded grand slam or making a diving catch, when most of life is really about hitting a homerun with no base-runners on, when it’s just a normal day and you do your best.
Since you never know when something wonderful is about to happen in your life, you might as well view each new day with optimism and have a smile on your face.
- When I was experiencing some challenging life situations over the last year, thinking about this idea often elevated my mood and made me feel much better about what I was experiencing. Since then, I’ve shared this idea with many people who I would describe as “not-flourishing” and received very positive responses. I thought it was relevant and worthwhile to share due to the analytical perspective it provides on what is often a non-analytical subject. I do not think this framework is helpful for everyone, but can be helpful for those experiencing temporary lulls in life enthusiasm.
- By having greater daily enthusiasm and optimism, I think one is more likely to experience positive life outcomes, while being happier.
- The Last Psychiatrist provides a similar argument in this article that is also quite compelling. He compares one’s life to the stock market; almost all of the gains in the stock market come from a very small number of days – if you miss those days, your portfolio will hardly grow. In life, by not being present and taking initiative, one might miss the small number of big life opportunities that provide nearly all the benefits.
Simple. And elegant.