Photo by Tracy Fuentes & Kleigh Balugo
High school me believed that in order for a day to be categorized as good, something really great had to happen: my crush talking to me, an A on a math test, winning a debate round. By this definition, a good day was rare, and yes, the bad days were plentiful.
As I’ve matured, I’ve learned the lesson that every day there is a chance for a good day, no matter what happens. But the major thing that helped me to learn this lesson was Studio Ghibli films.
If you’ve ever seen a Ghibli film, you know how beautiful they are. They manage to make mundane tasks such as commuting to school, doing homework, or doing the laundry look just as beautiful as the fantasy world they create.
Seeing these typically groan-worthy tasks as beautiful aspects of life truly reinforced the idea that a good day does not mean that something amazing has to happen, but there are many small beautiful things that make life wonderful and worth living. There is so much joy to be found in each day.
I try to recognize that when I am studying, even my least favorite subjects or the most draining assignments, it is not simply doing work to get a good grade to get a high GPA to get a degree to get a good job to get money. I am engaging in the pursuit of knowledge. I study to improve myself, to gain wisdom. I am studying to bring myself closer to my goals, and to prepare myself for my dreams. When I shift to that perspective, studying becomes a little more bearable. I feel slightly more motivated to delve through dense articles regarding the depictions of gender in medieval romances.
When washing the dishes, I force myself to slow down. Take note of how the sunlight comes in from the window, and how my dog sits so it hits her face just right. I scrub the plates thoughtfully, not too slow but not in a rush to go anywhere either. I allow my worries to be scrubbed away with the gunk left on the plates and down the drain. Something about washing the dishes has become calming to me.
All housework has a new perspective. Doing chores means creating a clean, beautiful home to live in. The simplicity and repetitiveness of the tasks are calming, a break from the Zoom classes, and the fast-paced nature of the world around us.
A good day does not mean something amazing has to happen, just that there was something good that happened that day. And that “something good” could be as simple as seeing a funny Tiktok or baking some cookies.
I’m sure many people reading this are probably rolling their eyes at the corniness of what I’m saying. To those people, I say watch a Ghibli movie. You’ll understand.
I’m not denying that life is hard. Difficult. Complicated. I know it can be hard to bring yourself to do simple things like make your bed when you’re burnt out, stressed, depressed, all of the above. Sometimes the weight of the world bears down so intensely that forming a single positive thought is just impossible.
But when you can bear it, try to see the beauty and value in all of your tasks, even the most mundane ones, the way a Ghibli movie would. I think you’ll find that the good days outnumber the bad days.