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Aug 31

Never better

“Never better” is what I answer most of the time when people ask how I’m doing. And their astonishment to my response never ceases to surprise me. Could my approach to the turmoil of life be so different from their own, different to the point that my answer leaves them bewildered? Thus, although this approach may seem somewhat mechanical and baseless to some, it is in reality the complete opposite since I can assure you that I weigh every word and that I am fully aware of the significance and weight of such an expression.

So as you may already know (or perhaps you may have guessed it by now) I am an airline pilot working for Air Canada, and at the moment of writing this article (April 2012), there doesn’t seem to be a workplace more stricken by uproar, uncertainty and discontent. However, “Never Better” is indeed what I answered an Anglophone co-worker when out of courtesy asked me how I was doing. My response seemed to  lead him to believe that I was mocking him or being insincere. “How can you mean that in times as uncertain as these? Aren’t you aware of what’s at stake? “, to which I answered “But of course! However, when we consider and observe the stakes and issues from a broader perspective, as a whole, are they worth making ourselves sick over them?”

So how do I explain my capacity to face life’s irritants with so much objectivity and resilience? Firstly, I am aware that every time one of them occurs I am faced with two choices: that of getting involved in the hopes of influencing the course of events or that of not getting involved but reacting according to the new reality once it has taken place.

This way, if I choose not to get involved or even better, if it is impossible for me to do so (for instance in the case that the decision is imposed by the government), I rationalize the whole thing and accept the outcome in complete serenity, seeing that in any case it is entirely out of my control. Hence, it becomes easier to accept the inevitable and therefore to react and to adapt accordingly once the time has come, rather than to waste energy complaining, to the point, as some do, of making themselves sick of worry and our entourage miserable in the process. If however I decide to get involved, recognizing that it may be harder to remain positive as the irritant in question threatens to invade my thoughts, it will be imperative to strengthen my efforts in keeping a certain outlook and therefore keeping the whole thing in perspective; as everything resides in the importance granted to the irritant in question and the manner in which we address it.

So regardless of our involvement, which criteria should we base our answer on when it comes to the question “How are you?”? Well, to get back to my previous example, that of my job, don’t you think that the related worries might be of lesser importance when compared to that of my health or the health of one of my family members? If my job makes me so miserable, couldn’t I just find another one? Essentially, it was after being involved in a car accident in October of 2005, where I nearly lost my life, that I adopted a new perspective on what’s important in life. And as I mentioned in a previous article entitled The meaning of life, since I do not identify with what I do for a living but rather with what I do in life, my job merely represents a facet of my life and not a purpose in itself. Thus, the fact that I woke up again this morning and that I am able to express myself through my writings which is something that I am truly passionate about and, that I identify with the fact that I have a loving family with whom I’ve developed meaningful and enriching relationships (even with my two children, who have become young adults, which by definition means that we’re supposed to have strenuous relations …just kidding), and especially the fact that I am in pretty good health, are just a few examples ensuring that the tribulations related to my work seem insignificant by comparison. Again, while you can shop for a job and unearth something good, the same can’t be said about a family or one’s health.  Therefore, fully realizing the extent of my luck allows me to answer as I do without any hesitation, since it’s true that I’ve never been better.

Finally, drawing on a famous French saying that I adapted to suit this article, I recognize that choosing to adopt the approach of saying “Never Better” on a daily basis ensures that I cannot help but be “Better than I was yesterday but not as well as I will be tomorrow”. This way your situation can only improve from day to day.

And you, how are you? Try it yourself next time and surprise someone with your joie de vivre by answering as I do. For those who try it, I would love to hear about your experiences, for we may succeed in changing the world, one “Never better at a time”.

Note: Nothing should make us happier than waking up again this morning having been given the chance to enjoy yet another day. It’s by realizing how lucky we are as we awaken each day that we should get up on the right foot by saying “Never better”. I’m therefore offering you a poster that you can download by using the following link  which can remind you as early as you wake up of the valuable maxim that I’ve just shared.

© 2012 – 2015, Jacques Dufort. All rights reserved.

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