Every Day is a Bonus Day

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Have you ever had a near-death experience?

I have. A year and a half ago, I took a bad ski fall, which I described in my post on gratitude journaling. In case you missed that post, here’s the story:

I was skiing along the edge of a 30-foot tall, frozen waterfall – a terraced cliff, covered in ice. Taking a right-hand turn near the edge of the cliff, my skis cut through the two feet of surface powder and found the ice lurking underneath. I slipped, slammed into the ice, and tumbled over the edge, smashing into the frozen waterfall’s terraces as I fell. Seconds later, I found myself wrapped around a bent-over tree that was just off the ground.

There were many ways that fall could have ended in death: landing face down in the snow unconscious, whipping into the tree with my face instead of my belly, internal bleeding, a broken neck, getting impaled on a broken branch, or bleeding out from a compound fracture. I was alone, no one saw me fall, and no one skied past my location for ten minutes.

Sorry for the gruesome images. My point is that those deadly outcomes could have easily resulted from the fall, but they didn’t. Instead, I walked away with two minor injuries and a concussion. I should have died that day, but I didn’t.

So now, every day is a bonus day. Every day I have lived since that accident was a day that could easily not have been. And all my future days are extra, undeserved days that I’m profoundly lucky to be alive for. From here on out, they’re all bonus days.

If you’ve ever had a near-death experience, you too are living through an extended bonus round of life. But you don’t have to have survived a dramatic, near-death experience to view every day as a bonus day. Here are some non-obvious reasons why you might adopt this attitude:

  • You probably have had numerous near-misses while driving that you didn’t even notice. Since none of them killed you, all your days are bonus days.
  • If you’re old enough right now to have outlived the average human lifespan, you’ve already beat the odds, so all your days are bonus days.
  • But, while you’re probably not over 70, there’s a good chance you’re over 30, in which case you’ve beaten the historical average human lifespan. So, if you’re over 30, all your days are bonus days.
  • And, regardless of your age, the fact that you exist at all defies the odds. Across the millions of generations since the dawn of life on Earth, none of your direct ancestors died before passing on their genes. The astronomical odds against your existence mean that every day of your life has been a bonus day.

Really, though, the reason to adopt this attitude isn’t about how logical it is. The reason is to become more grateful for each day. It can make the difference between waking and saying to yourself, “Just another day,” and saying to yourself, “Woo-hoo! Another bonus day!” How much more energy and willpower would you be able to muster if you believed the latter? How much kinder and happier would you be if you saw each day as a bonus day?

I won’t pretend this attitude makes bad days good, or that it’s easy to remember. It doesn’t, and it’s not. I still have knee and back pain from that ski accident most days. And usually, it’s just annoying. But every now and then I remember that my injuries are the lucky outcomes I got instead of death. And when that thought crosses my mind, I remember that today, like every day, is a bonus day.


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