“Is today going to be a Purple Day?”
That is the question I pose to my kids every morning when I wake them up.
What is a Purple Day? In my home, A Purple Day is the highest achievement on the Good Choices chart that visibly hangs on the wall in the center of my living room. The chart, inspired by my daughter’s kindergarten teacher, intends to teach children positive behavior. Seven pieces of brightly colored construction paper are linked together to form a single vertical line stretching almost four feet tall. A behavior is written clearly on each piece of paper. My daughters each have a clothespin with their name on it hanging on the side of the chart.
Every day the clothespin starts on the center: “Ready to Make Good Choices”. If my children behave in a less than ideal way they move down the chart. First to “Think About It “, then “Lose a Privilege”, and then the worst punishment of all: “Call to Daddy.” Alternatively, if they make good choices they move up the ladder. First to “Working Hard”, then “Went for It”, and then the highest achievement written on a purple piece of paper: “Do Your Best.”
That’s a Purple Day: An attitude of trying to do your best.
Lately, I have been thinking about how to apply the chart and Purple Days into my own life.
I recognize that my chart has one distinct, but important, difference than the teacher’s. In her chart, you start the day on the top and can only move down into the punishment zone. Whereas in my chart, you start your day at neutral and can either move down or MOVE UP.
Because at it’s core – a Purple Day is about making conscious decisions to be the best version of ourselves. It’s about setting intention to behave in accordance with our value set.
Over the past few weeks I re-framed the morning question for myself to be: “WHAT would make today a Purple Day?” Each evening I then reflect on this question: “Did I accomplish what I set out to do?”
And let me tell you, it’s hard to achieve a Purple Day.
It takes lot of strength and willpower to live up to your best self.
Frequently there are times I behave in ways I do not intend to. I lose my patience. I yell at my kids. I interrupt. I judge. I avoid. I procrastinate. I indulge. I complain. I desire. I gossip. I blame. The list could go on and on.
And as my trail of less than perfect behaviors manifest and build up in my mind, I beat myself up. Without an adult version of “Lose a Privilege”, I punish myself with shame. I get upset. I get angry. I get disappointed in myself.
To stop this cycle, I have recently found great power in forgiveness.
Rather than punish myself for less than perfect behavior, I focus on forgiving myself.
I only allow myself to go one step down on the chart to “Think About It”. I reflect on my behavior for the day. Or even behavior that is deeply rooted in my past. I investigate the reasons why. I take responsibility for my actions and commit to improving. And then I cultivate the power to forgive myself. I remind myself that I am a good person. I remind myself that I am working hard to have a Purple Day. I remind myself that sometimes I will slip. I remind myself that I am only human. And as the English poet Alexander Pope wrote: “to err is human”.
The power of forgiveness is then magnified when I start to think about others.
I like to imagine that everyone in the world is also trying to have a Purple Day, and that they too will occasionally slip. It might be an acquaintance or stranger that interrupts me or judges me. Or it might be someone close to me that behaves in a way that hurts me or causes me pain. Rather than punish or retaliate, I work to try to forgive them for their less than perfect behavior. I work to let go of anger and resentment. I recognize them as a human, just like me, with flaws and imperfections. I recognize that deep down they are also good people trying to have Purple Days.
Forgiveness is the bridge that enables me to give love and compassion to myself and to others.
It has given me the power to let go. Forgiveness is a gateway to a new and lighter way of living.
I know that each day will not be a Purple Day – but everyday I intend to try and also forgive.
Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude — Martin Luther King Jr