Please don’t have a nice day

I first heard these words lying in bed in a hostel in Vancouver during a nice quiet day. A day out of my routine in our home in Alberta began with an authentic moment with a stranger who became a friend in the few days that we had together as roommates. An experience without the typical awkwardness found between strangers. We seemed to connect immediately as women, mothers, and human beings. Following our goodbyes that morning, I proceeded to a day on my own. From sitting in a coffee shop to burying my toes in the sand of Stanley Park beaches, I spend the day with myself. Each moment of the day offers a new opportunity to be.

As the tiredness of the last few training days sunk into my body and mind, I decided to head back to my room. The next hour was a delightful introduction to my new roommate, a young girl from Belgium, on an extended stay in Canada. Once again, the human connection felt easy, without barriers and a gift. Soon after, as she prepared for her volunteering shift at a local event, I tucked myself in for rest.

As the room quieted from her departure, I settled in and picked a movie on Netflix. As I browsed my list, I noticed a movie I had chosen over a year ago and decided to give it a go. I soon realized that what began with humor and mindless tv soon turned into me leaning into the experience of these characters. The movie was The Last Word with Shirley MacLaine as Harriet Lauler, a retired businesswoman. She hires a young journalist Anne Sherman played by Amanda Seyfried, to write her obituary and reshape her legacy.

Have a nice day

Words have such a profound ability to create an impact. We use them to share, connect, argue, and show love. And yet we often speak without noticing the words we use and their meaning. A message is woven through the movie and shines like a bright light in a scene where Harriet becomes a disc jockey. She leans forward to the microphone and says,

“Please don’t have a nice day. Have a day that matters, Have a true day, Have a direct day, Have an honest day. A nice day…mmm…you’ll be miserable…Have a day that means something.” 

I had to stop the movie as I wondered how often we say have a nice day. And for the first time, I felt as though I was challenging these words. How many times just today had I used those exact words? The two women with whom I had made beautiful connections. The lady smiled brightly as she handed me my first cup of tea—the woman who stopped letting me pet her dog in the park. I was struck by not even being able to count how often. Each time they were returned with “you too,” “thank you also,” and a smile.

When you look it up, Google will tell you that friendly means “pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory.” Are you seeing what I’m seeing? All these people who had added something special to my day had been rewarded by being told to have a satisfactory day.

Everything in my life that matters involves a real human being. Someone with dreams for themselves, for the people in their lives. They have memories that have instilled wisdom. Their lives inspire something incredible in the world and create possibilities for themselves and others. There is nothing at all “satisfactory” about that. When my children go into the world taking steps to reach their dreams, there is nothing “pleasant” about it.

What I mean to say

I believe we each get up each day with a wish for ourselves. It might be a day of silence, a day of goal-crushing action, a day of connection. To live our lives aligned with our purpose and positively affect the world around us.

So what do I mean to say? What words could design a possibility for a “day that matters”? Words that add light to the fire within? That lifts a person to the best selves. What words would allow me to honor all of that?

I’m still working on that, and I am sure I will discover ways to truly bring my real meaning to life over the coming weeks. In the meantime, I wish you a day that challenges everything you think is possible for yourself. One where what you believe is available to you turns out to be much more than you can now see the potential.


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  1. Sandy Sherman says:

    Loved this blog post. I was searching for the meaning of Burning the ships and you popped up in Google. I decided to click on your post and I watched the trailer for The Last Word, now I am compelled to watch this movie. I am a life/mindset coach that is going in a different direction with who I coach and burning my ships from who I was, or thought I was, to who I want to be and who I am was confusing and just plain hard to let this old me go. Now, I’m more convinced than ever to shed the old and become the new best version of myself.

    Please don’t have a nice day, have a day of meaning, a day of renewal, a day of love, a day of discovery, a day of joy…….:)

    Thank you for posting so I could find this lovely and most revealing post…..

    • melanie says:

      Hi Sandy, I’m so glad this post came to you at the moment you needed its message. Yes, it is definitely a movie worth watching, just remember to have some tissue handy. I have made a similar transition myself, and all I can say in the way of encouragement to jump in and burn your ships, is you have 2 voices, your intuition, and your mind. And no matter where you are in the ship burning journey they will both be present voices. You get to choose which one you listen to and what you do with their message.

      Good luck!!! And keep us posted on how it goes!

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