I know a fellow nicknamed Jocko*; he has a habit to exclaim out loud the word ‘good !’ after everything that happens to him. He will do this even in the face of bad news or a bungle. By immediate focusing on ‘good’ he reports he can find something good, some lesson, some asset in the worst of situations. He doesn’t deny the bad – often that’s pretty obvious – this ritual helps him find something positive so that the event is not 100% misery. The plane is delayed? Good. He has time to read. The plan didn’t work? Good. Jocko and his team can learn something from it.

I’ve been trying to practice this to see if it is any good. Yesterday the Elantra was discovered to be dripping oil onto the garage floor; this may be why the oil light has been on for some time. The usual shop tells us there are no appointments available until the end of July. I had Monday off; I had a lot of fun activities planned which all included driving. At first reaction there was nothing at all ‘good’ about this, not by a long shot. I imagined Mr. Jocko would have to work very very hard to extract good from this disaster.

“Good” I exclaimed. I had to open up the hood and remember how to check the oil. I hadn’t been in there ever; it was quite dirty. I gave it a clean-up and I felt good to do so. When the mechanic lifts the bonnet he may be impressed. I checked the oil (low) and filled it with some oil we had on hand (good), and felt good for my industry. “Good” I exclaimed: this happened on my day off. Imagine if I had driven to work, leaking oil, only to have the car break down, unable to drive home. As for the day-off plans? “Good” I had an opportunity to stay home and go through all my ‘watch later’ YouTube cooking lectures, which I did. ‘Good’ we are obliged to go to another service shoppe; perhaps it will be a better experience than our usual one. ‘Good’ I got to call into work to explain I have no wheels and thus can’t get to MESA (a 45-minute drive) so I can stay put and work from home ala 2020.

I see how this approach makes one focus on the advantages and the problem solving benefits. I teach something like this to my patients, the ones who have a habit to immediate go to negative/the worse-case scenario in everything they think and do. “Oh, yeah?” they say, ‘how about …’ bringing up scenarios to defeat the approach.

I too find the ‘good’ approach challenging in the midst of politics, violence, war, and all the other matters afoot these days. I remind myself the practice isn’t to negate the gravity of things, merely not to fixate on them. Certainly we tend to turn into the things we practice. I could use less OMG this is a disaster/gloom complaining in my character.

Someone is organizing a AAA tow truck to haul the drippy thing to the dealership for its appointment on Thursday. Good. I don’t have to worry about this. I can do my day’s work and focus on my job. I will be home today when The Pool Man arrives. Good. I can ask him about the pool light device; can he fix it? I would like not to swim in the dark no more.

Good.

Let us hope so, anyway.

*He is well over four feet.