“Is it a good day or a great day?” a friend was asked by an overly cheerful coworker who came bouncing into her office one morning. “Need more options,” our friend responded without hesitation. It was a trick question for our friend who was experiencing a particularly bad day, you see, and she was not about to fall for it.
According to Jack Canfield, best known for his Chicken Soup for the Soul books, there is a formula for life that goes like this: E + R = O, that is Events + Response = Outcome. Outcomes, in other words, are not determined by the events and circumstances we experience in life, but in the way we respond to them. “If you want a different outcome,” Canfield explains, “you have to change your response.”
The cheerful coworker who walked in our friend’s office that morning had probably recognized that she was having a bad day and was trying to coax her into a better mood with her trick question. “Is it a good day or a great day?” can elicit only two possible answers. Had our friend taken the bait by answering one or the other it might have changed her Response to the Event she was struggling with, thus producing a more positive Outcome. That was the intention, at least, of the well-meaning coworker in her clever salutation – and the reason our friend, who realized it later, tells the story on herself.
When I complained recently to a pastor friend of mine about some frustrations and discouragements in my own life he offered this sage advice. “We must not allow others to take away our joy,” he counseled. Bingo! When I added that R to the E that was causing my discouragement it equaled a different O.
So, is it a good day or a great day? Need more options? “If you want a different outcome,” Jack Canfield reminds us, “you have to change your response.” So next time you’re having a bad E try plugging a different R into the formula and see what happens to the O.