Mindful Wednesday: On How to Affect the Quality of Our Days

This week’s Defense Against The Dark Art’s “Mindful Wednesday” newsletter helps you learn how to affect (and maybe even improve) the quality of your days.


To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.

Henry David Thoreau

From Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy

We know now that there are aspects to real life in which our opinion is neither sought nor required. Sometimes, despite our best efforts and positive thinking, health, fortune, and/or peace elude us. But the one thing we do have absolute control over is the quality of our days.

Even when we’re grief stricken, racked with pain, sick from worry, deeply depressed, squeezed by circumstances—how we greet, meet, and complete each day is our choosing.

We hate to hear this.

Of course, when we’re sick, worried, grieving, depressed, or frantic, we’re not very interested in the day’s quality; we just want the misery to end. But wishing the day away is also a creative choice, even if it’s not a deliberate one.

Artists of the everyday excel in elevating the simple to the level of the Sacred. You can use whatever you have on hand—a meal, a conversation, humor, affection—to create comfort and contentment—to put a positive spin, if not on the overall quality of the day, then on critical moments of it. 

For some time now, I have been conducting a top-secret experiment with life, as Thoreau suggests we do. I wanted to see just how much influence I really had on the day’s character. So, the first words I speak in the morning are: “Thank you for the gift of this wonderful day.”

Here are the initial findings, but you will not like them. Nor did I.

  • All days are wonderful in direct proportion to the creative energy invested in them. No investment. No return.
  • Even lousy days posses hidden wonder. Sometimes all you need is a moment of attitude adjustment to shift your perception of an entire afternoon and move forward into a pleasant evening.
  • Weather does not seem to affect the experiment. Gray, cold, and rainy days spent in an office are just as susceptible to the warming influence of enthusiasm as are sunny days spent lying in a hammock sipping sangria.
  • Days that are expected to be wonderful before they begin turn out to be so much more frequently than days greeted with grumbling.
  • The results of this experiment suggest that it doesn’t matter whether a day is good or bad. What matters is what we do with it.

We knew that.

—Sarah Ban Breathnach,
author of Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy


Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

Leaping off buildings wasn’t exactly something Stanford graduate student Yubing Zhang ever thought she’d do. In this TEDx talk, she explains how she has experienced the unlimited potential that exists when we break through our comfort zones, and is dedicated to inspiring others to do the same.

Mindful Mantra & Practice

I have the ability to start my day over whenever I choose to. I will do a mood-check at some point today, and then choose to make my day better in one way.


Simple Pleasure

This is the month to plant crocus, daffodils, and tulips outdoors for next spring’s season of showing off.

Sarah Ban Breathnach

Dr. Valerie Esposito, Director of Champlain’s Environmental Studies & Policy program, is just one of the people who enjoys and tends to Champlain’s beautiful Community Garden, which is located behind Bankus Hall.

Mindful Wednesday Discussion (for grown-ups)

4:30–5:00 PM EST Mindful Tea & Chat


Defense Against the Dark Arts (for students)

When: Thursdays from 5:30–6:15 PM EST
Where: In the Champlain Room (enter under the big clock next to Eats)
Zoom link for Virtual Wizards here.

Halloween Party With Pumpkin Carving & Pizza!

When: Thursday, October 29th 5:30–7:00 PM EST
Where: In the Champlain Room
Bring a friend and you will be entered in a raffle for some Champlain College swag!
*Pumpkins donated by Hartman’s Farm Stand in Sheldon, Vermont (proud parents of a Champlain College grad!)

Weekly Mindcraft Podcast: Shame’s Hiding Places

This is a continued discussion on how toxic shame hides. Among these “tree forts” for shame are arrogance, contempt, rage, patronizing, envy, people-pleasing, and the compulsive need for care-giving. This is because the underlying pain of shame, that feeling of being flawed and defective is unbearable, and we must therefore find a way to alleviate this. Becoming aware of these hiding places helps us to uncover and reveal our shame for what it is. Only when we truly get it, can we begin to talk back to these toxic internal messages and rewire our minds with new dialogue based in our own truth. Listen here.


Monthly-ish Mindful Blog

In “What’s the Matter with Me?,” the most recent article on my Psychology Today blog, I delve into the reasons why many of us find it so hard to be good to ourselves, and offer seven tips for change. Read more here.

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