About 12 years ago, I was working for a Milwaukee nonprofit as a fundraiser. I was part of a great team of caring people. My wedding day was right around the corner. Life was good.
One day, a co-worker was meeting with me in my office. Sally was a very chipper woman, always smiling and in high spirits. She sat across from me and asked, “How are you today?” I responded “I’m doing OK.” I’ll never, ever forget what Sally said back, as she tipped her head to the side and smiled at me:
“Can’t we do better than OK?”
In that moment, her chippery nature went from charming to choking. Her intentions were good, I’m sure. She did not mean to imply that’s it’s not OK to be “just OK,” that you have to be happy and bouncy all the time. Yet, that’s how I took it in that moment. It turned me into an advocate for the looked-down-upon state of being “OK.”
Being OK means that you are in a neutral place. You’re coasting. According to Dictionary.com, things are “all right; proceeding normally; satisfactory or under control.” Most days, that sounds pretty darn good to me! No drama, no roller coaster of emotion.
There is something to the idea that if you’re in a funk, conjuring up a smile tricks your brain into thinking that you’re happy. I’m in favor of that, and I’ve practiced it. I also think there’s a time and place for acknowledging – even celebrating! – that things are OK… not great, not terrible, but OK. Life has plateaus in between the highs and lows. That’s the Land of OK. From there, you can reflect, relax and refuel for the journey.
And of course, based on my opening story (an experience that led to a standing joke in the Buelow household), I believe in respecting others’ moods and not cajoling them into forced happiness. Meet people where they’re at. That doesn’t mean you have to rise or fall to their mood; simply respect it and, well, be OK with it!
Enjoy the rich and varied range of emotions that you experience. There is something to be learned and embraced in all of them – especially the time you spend being OK!