A Blue Marble Day©

Have you ever had a day when things didn’t go as you planned? I’m guessing that you all have. Have you ever had a day where you didn’t feel like you accomplished much? I’m sure that we all know that experience. Have you ever had a day when everything seemed to go wrong? Unfortunately, I’m sure you know this very well also.  Hopefully, these situations are limited to a day or two now and again and they’re not regular occurrences in your life. The trouble is that we too often have a perception of our day that is negative or which focuses on the most negative aspects of the day. While it’s true that perceptions create our reality, our personal perceptions of our days, our accomplishments, and our effectiveness are often distorted towards the worst of our days and our experiences. Recently, I learned of a unique and helpful approach to continually remind ourselves that things are better than they seem.  The story begins and ends with blue marbles.
 A friend of mine was sharing with me just the type of experience I referenced above: often feeling like she didn’t accomplish much during the day or that many things had gone wrong. As a result, she left work many days feeling disheartened, unproductive, frustrated or worse. This often impacted not only her mood at the office, but even her mood that evening when she went home.  But that was before the blue marble experiment.
 She purchased a bag of blue and black marbles (feel free to use whatever colors or shiny objects that tickle your fancy), which she keeps in her office. She also brought in a small glass bowl that she puts on her desk (empty) every morning. Throughout the day she puts blue and black marbles into the bowl, the color depending on what happens during her day.
 If she accomplishes a task, she puts in a blue marble in the bowl. If she has a productive phone call or client meeting, she may put in several blue marbles. If she checks an item off her “to do” list, she adds a blue marble. Essentially, she visually keeps track of what goes right during her day with blue marbles.

 And – you guessed it – when things don’t go as planned, when she has a frustrating call or meeting, or when she finds herself being unproductive, she puts a black marble in the bowl. Another visual reminder – this time of when things don’t go as hoped or expected.

Can you guess what she discovered after just a couple of weeks? That’s right: most days her bowl was filled with mostly blue marbles. Her days hadn’t changed, but she began to realize that most days were better and more productive than she had thought – they only seemed negative or unproductive because that’s what she tended to remember. Perhaps all of the good things that she accomplished during the day were overshadowed or forgotten by the end of the day. With this visual reminder of her day, she found that most days went pretty well (lots of blue marbles). This not only helped improve her attitude at work, but also dramatically improved her mood when she got home every night, which was very welcome for her and her husband.

 I know what you’re wondering. I had and asked the same question – what about the days where there are lots of black marbles in the bowl? Doesn’t that cause you to have a negative perspective on those days? Her answer was “No. Even on the days when there are plenty of black marbles in the bowl, at the end of the day I simply pour the marbles out of the bowl and I have a clean slate. Pouring out the marbles is like starting over, so even on a challenging day I leave the office knowing that whatever happened today is over and that I’m starting the next day fresh, with plenty of opportunities for more blue marbles.
  Isn’t that the truth of it? You have good and bad days, but often your supposed “bad” days aren’t really that bad – they just seem that way. There are usually plenty of good things happening every day if you can only focus on them. Likewise, whatever happened today is over, and tomorrow is always a new day with a clean slate – an opportunity to make it a blue marble day. Our minds and our memories will play tricks on us, but the blue marble system is a visual reminder that most days go quite well and that even bad days don’t last.
 If you’re thinking that your days are not what you want them to be, I invite you to implement the blue marble system. My guess is that you’ll find plenty of blue marbles in your days and that even the occasional black marble isn’t as bad as it seems. Make every day a blue marble day. After all, it already is!

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