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I was standing in line at the grocery store awhile ago, it was late afternoon, and the sun was streaming through the windows and backlighting the redwood trees across the parking lot. The line was moving slowly and I decided that, instead of getting stressed out about waiting or pulling out my phone to distract myself, I would use the time to just be there…to notice things…to do a standing meditation of sorts. The truth was, I was in no hurry. I wasn’t late for anything, nobody was expecting me at a certain time, and I didn’t need the line to be moving any faster than it was…so I relaxed and just took things in.

About five minutes later it was my turn to go, and when I got to the register, the checker asked me how I was. Now, we all know that 99% of people that ask this question don’t really want the answer. “How are you?” is just the socially acceptable opening salvo in any transaction and “good” is the expected response…or “can’t complain” or “okay” or any other middle of the road, non-committal mumbling that you can muster before getting on with the exchange. But I didn’t say any of these.

I said “phenomenal!”

I don’t know why I said it. Maybe I was still in meditation mode. I didn’t think about it…I know that.  It just came out. The checker gave me a bemused smile and said “good for you” in a way that let me know she thought I was clearly insane. Maybe I was, a little, but the weird thing was that saying it immediately made me feel better. Like, a lot better.

When I got to the parking lot, I started trying to figure out where that came from. What prompted me to break ranks with “good” or “okay” and shoot straight to the unmistakably, overtly positive, “phenomenal”?  I still didn’t know…but the resulting feeling was interesting.

When I got in line, I certainly wouldn’t have described my mood as phenomenal. I was in a subpar Safeway at 4:45 in the afternoon on a Friday, waiting while a mass of humanity emptied carts, packed bags, and dealt with malfunctioning chips on their ATM cards. Phenomenal doesn’t normally appear under those circumstances. Was I lying? Did I just put on a front to appear as a more positive person who, on the surface, looked like he was doing better than he actually was? Maybe.

Once I said it, though…I started to believe it a little. It was like my brain started to make up reasons as to why I might feel that way. I had called “phenomenal” into being by accident…and now my day felt lighter. It might have started as a small lie, but calling it forward had transformed it into truth.

Since then, “phenomenal” or similar descriptors have become my standard reply to “How are you?”. Sometimes people will be curious enough to ask why, and then my brain will go about making up all the reasons I have to be “phenomenal” or “amazing” or what have you. It’s a neat trick to raise my vibration for myself and it definitely changes people’s perception of me. They don’t know what to do with a “phenomenal” in a sea of “goods” or “okays”…but they seem to be mostly delighted in their confusion, so I count it as a win for both of us.

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