Ingredients for an Excellent Day
good days happiness lifestyle personal fulfillment warrior spirit
I've also discovered that some of them don't work unless approached with the right mindset. For example, eating good food isn't nearly as useful if I try to multitask while eating. On the other hand, it works especially well when I can share a meal with a friend, even though the main point is self-care.
Be wary of overdoing some of these though. Like all things, they are best enjoyed in moderation. Don't rest too much, or sweat too much, for example. Since my problem is usually not getting enough of most of these ingredients, though, just having them as a reminder helpe ms make sure I enjoy a full spectrum of daily experiences.
Without further ado, the best day ever:
Sweat. Engage in intense physical activity that gets you breathing hard. Yeah, that counts.
Enjoy food. Take the time to make at least one meal. Prepare it lovingly, with the intent of taking care of yourself and others you are feeding. Sit and eat it while doing nothing else except perhaps chatting with your meal companions.
Rest. Take a nap. Get enough sleep. Recover intentionally, as a purposeful activity during your day. Nap with gusto!
Stimulate your mind. Work a puzzle or play a game. Make it something challenging, that you haven’t yet mastered (like me trying to beat a computer in StarCraft II…). Chess is good option for this. You know you’ve hit the spot when your brain gets hot or simple addition becomes tricky.
Create. Generate something from scratch. It can be an improvised cookie recipe, a new standing desk made from spare parts, or a short story. Music and visual art are exemplary creative endeavors. Sketch something, anything.
Meditate. Sit and just be. Take deep breathes. Focus on letting go of all your worries, if only for a few minutes. This isn’t the same as resting, above. It’s more about being as present in the moment as you can and calming your frazzled mind. Doing this in nature is perfect, since natural sounds and images are known to stimulate our minds in such a way to promote centeredness. Go for a walk, or stare at the ceiling.
Grow. Progress is key to our sense of fulfillment. Find a project - either external or internal - to work on and make small progress on every day. I practice Kenpo, making tiny, imperceptible progress every day. By the end of the month, I can’t even recognize the old, awkward me who couldn’t even throw a straight kick. Join a class to learn something new.
Stress. I don’t mean the stress that is anxiety. I mean the stress that forces us to improve and get better. Short, acute bouts of stress, whether it is at the gym while you attack a high intensity workout, or at work as you tackle an organizational or logistical problem, help us grow. Make it something that is just beyond your current abilities. We need challenge to thrive. Seek it out.
Make a Plan to Have a Great Day
Call me OCD, but I like to plan out my fulfilling days. So after I created this list, I looked at my weekly schedule and tried to fit in some activities that fit this model. Here is what I came up with:
Sweat: I exercise and play a lot. Between CrossFit, gymnastics, and running, I don’t lack for daily opportunities to sweat. I just need to schedule time for my workouts, which I usually do in the hour before I teach classes at the gym.
Enjoy food: I try to cook myself breakfast and eat it without checking my e-mail or reading my blog feeds. When my girlfriend is over, I get to cook for her and we sit and eat together. Dinner is more iffy, since I get home really late, but I try to avoid reading at least.
Rest: When possible, I leave time in my afternoon for a nap. If I feel really worn out, I take a day off from exercise. I’m still learning to respect my need for sleep though, so even when I have the ability to go to bed early, I tend to stay up later than I should.
Stimulate your mind: Lately, I’ve been trying to master StarCraft II. For those of you unfamiliar with real-time strategy, being good at this game requires you to build an economy and manage it for maximum efficiency while constantly expanding, while also training and commanding an army, trying to outwit your opponent, and strategizing/prioritizing every single dollar spent and second of your time. All while someone else is trying to do the same with the intent of destroying you. If I play too much, my brain really does start to heat up.
Create: I write as much as I can. I’ve also recently taken on a job with a lot of creative opportunities, so I get to dabble in visual art, website design, and publishing.
Meditate. I tried sitting meditation for a while, but I find I do better with movement. Long runs seem to do the trick really well. I try to go out for such a run at least three times a week, usually as early in the morning as I can stand. This also takes care of the sweat requirement on days I can’t get a real workout in.
Grow: Like I said, Kenpo takes care of this.
Stress: My workouts stress me, since there is always a challenge I’m not sure I can best. Writing stresses me because I am always trying to improve my craft. StarCraft stresses me because I don’t like seeing my army destroyed by 12-year olds with no life (not bitter…). Lastly, my work stresses me because there are always new challenges that require me to widen my skill set.
If I manage to get most of these activities into a given day, it’s guaranteed to be awesome. Some days are most lopsided. For example, this past weekend, I spent most of my time resting and enjoying food. But if I’m having a run of bad days, I can just check to see what’s missing and then try to be more well-rounded.
Thanks for reading! I hope this post was inspiring, and that you will share it with friends via e-mail or Twitter.
Fight on, Brave Warriors!