I shut my eyes so I can see. - artist Paul Gauguin
Happiness is not a destination. It is a method of life. - Burton Hills
This morning as I took my kids to school, I was feeling rushed and
harried. Stress levels high, my face wore a permanent frown, my mind
was in a million different places, and my two youngest kids (3 year
old, and 20 months) were quiet in their car seats.
Photo by snappED up
Then I realized: while my mind is elsewhere, I’m missing some prime moments with my kids. And not really enjoying my day.
And so I changed the moment, and in doing so changed my day: we
began singing some of our favorite children’s songs. Itsy-bitsy spider,
twinkle twinkle, wheels on the bus, ABCDs, I’ve been working on the
railroad, the ants go marching two by two … all of the oldies.
Instead of thinking about all the things I had to do today, I brought myself into the present moment. And when we got to school, I took a few minutes to spend time with them. Be present with them. It was truly lovely.
This little incident not only brought warmth and joy into my heart …
it brought a realization into my mind: I can either have a stressed,
difficult day … or I can have an amazing, wonderful day.
I chose the amazing day.
The rest of the day, I did things to ensure that my day was the best
ever. And it was. I had the greatest day … all from simple little
things that don’t seem like much, but make all the difference in the
Do you have to follow these things step-by-step? Not at all. Find your
own methods, or pick and choose a few of these. Main thing, though:
take steps to make today your best day ever.
1. Be present.
Instead of having your mind elsewhere, bring yourself back to now, in
this moment, focused on where you are and what you’re doing and who
you’re with. We cannot change things that have already happened, and
obsessing over them does nothing to help us now. We cannot predict the
future, so worrying about it does nothing to help you either. Instead,
focus on now … if something is worrying you, take action … but even
better, just be in the moment, and live as if now is all there is.
Because it is.
2. Do less.
Have a full schedule today? Cut it in half. You don’t need to do
everything on that list. I took a few items on my list and moved them
to next week. Do less (but focus on the important — not urgent — stuff)
and you’ll be less stressed out. If you cut your list down and do only
half the things you want to do for today, you’ll have a much better
day. You’ll thank me.
3. Get one important thing done.
As I said in the previous point, do less but do more important things.
When I say important, I mean things that will have a huge impact on
your life (personally or career wise) over the long run. Not things
that need to be done today or else. Here’s why: If you get something
important done, something that will help you in the long run (even if
it’s only a step towards a major accomplishment, it’s important), you
will feel great! You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. That makes any
day a great day.
4. Plan your perfect life.
What would your life be like if you had no restrictions? I’m not
talking about living in a McMansion or flying around in jet planes, but
what would make you happy. A good step: pick the 4-5 most important
things in your life, and build your perfect life around those things,
eliminating most of the rest if possible. Plan that perfect life, and
then plan the first few steps you need to take to get there. Now
schedule those first steps over the next week, including one today. It
feels amazing to start taking action on making your life the way you
want it to be.
Even if it’s just a little space — say a drawer or a shelf —
decluttering an area of your life can have a wonderful effect on your
mood and happiness level. I know it gives my day a boost. When things
start to get cluttered (and let’s face it, even the best declutterers
among us face clutter creep), I take a few minutes to clear it out. Clearing your desk (at least the surface of it) can be a great way to start.
6. Go for a walk.
I was going to write “exercise” but I’m afraid that many readers will
just skip over this one. So instead, just go for a walk. That movement,
and the fresh outdoor air, will have a great effect on your day. And
even better: take a few minutes to enjoy the nature around you as you
go for your walk. Clear your head. Calm yourself during a busy time of
your day. Think to yourself: “How lucky I am to be alive! How wonderful
a world I’m in! What opportunities and possibilities lie before me!”
7. Focus on 3 projects. I wrote about this recently, but you’ll probably hear me repeat it a few times just
because of the terrific effect it can have on your productivity and
your life: choose only your three most important projects, and focus on
them exclusively. Focus on getting them to completion, to the exclusion
of all other projects. Do that today. You’ll be amazed at how much
you’ll accomplish. I only started doing it recently, but I’m getting so
much done that I feel like I was sitting on my hands before this. It
8. Listen to great music. When I was in the car, after I dropped the kids, an oldie came on the radio: Tommy James and the Shondells singing Hanky Panky. “I saw her walking on down the line (yeah) … you
know I saw her for the very first time …” Well, I love songs like that
(call me old if you like) and I started dancing in my seat. You might
be turned on by hipper songs (or is “hipper” not a trendy word
anymore?) but whatever music gets you going, jam it on your iPod or car
radio. Or while you work. It’s a great time! “Hey, pretty baby, can I
take you home!”
9. Watch a sunrise or sunset.
Trite? Yes, definitely. But does it work? Yes, definitely. I took the
time to enjoy the sunset on my way home today. Mmmmm. It was lovely. It
just fills me with warmth. Sunrises are even more beautifuller!
10. Spend time with a loved one.
Another obvious one, perhaps, but there’s nothing better, really. When
I spent even just a few minutes with my two babies this morning, it
filled me with a joy unequaled anywhere else in life. Then I spent some
time with my wife, after work, and let me just say that’s about as good
as it gets too. Even if you don’t have a spouse or kids, there’s
someone in your life that you value … make time out of your day today
to spend time with them … and not just to watch TV, but to actually be
with them, talk with them, bond with them. It works.
Have some of your own methods of making today an awesome day? Share in the comments.