If you asked me to describe the perfect day at age 16, it would have looked like the music video for a Taylor Swift song: I’d be on a romantic date with my high school crush and dear friend, whom I’ll call Mike.
(I’ve changed his name because I think he reads this site. And I don’t want to call him out, because my best friend has already done that– she had our yearbook editors announce my love for him in permanent, Times New Roman print. Ahh…high school.)
My date with Mike would have included flirting, fireworks, laughter, and the holding of sweaty, nervous hands. The night would end with a two-for-one deal at Olive Garden, because if there’s anything I love more than cute boys who laugh at my jokes, it’s cute boys who buy me pasta.
But my, have things changed. Several weeks ago, I had what I’d consider a Perfect Day. But it didn’t involve an ounce of romance, fun, laughter, or pasta. Which makes me wonder: What do we really need to be happy? And is it way off from what we *think* will make us happy?
Well, it turns out you don’t need much to experience perfection. Heck, you don’t even really need perfection on your Perfect Day.
Here’s what you do need: peace. Which is actually way different from perfection.
On my Perfect Day, I felt 100% totally at peace with my life, and honestly, that’s a rare thing for me. Usually I’m all, “Oh no! How am I going to accomplish ___? How will I be able to afford ___? When will I finally ___? How much longer can I tolerate ___? What should I do about ___? What if ___ happens and it ruins my life?”
But surprisingly, there was none of that. Here’s what it looked like: I woke up feeling grateful. Then I worked on this website, cleaned my living room, ate healthy and delicious food, went for a 30-minute run, read a book, and talked with my husband.
That’s it. Totally boring and uneventful, right? No fireworks, no pasta, no nothin’.
But after some reflection, I realized there are 3 specific elements that made this particular day feel extraordinary. And I think they’re the keys to having a perfect day no matter who you are, or what your life looks like:
- Empty your mind of worried and anxious thoughts. They’re useless and draining. Often times, the things you worry about haven’t even happened yet (if it ever even does), yet you’re emotionally suffering from them as if they already have.
- Squeeze in activities that are in alignment with your core values. Do you want to know what makes you feel miserable, guilty, and frustrated? It’s not just that you’re stuck with responsibilities and stress that you’d rather be free of; it’s that you don’t MAKE time to do things that are of great importance to you despite our busy schedule. You sabotage yourself and wonder why you’re so unhappy. Bottom line: Don’t trade in your soul and sense of well-being in order to meet the practical demands of real life– instead, tend to your soul and well-being so that the practical demands of real life don’t kill you.
- Look at the big picture of your life and be grateful. I know this one sounds horribly cliche, airy-fairy, and possibly too general to put into practice. But you’ve got to do it because the only thing that happy people have in common (because they all have very different lifestyles, incomes, and life circumstances), is that they feel grateful and satisfied. That’s what makes them experience the feeling of contentment. So right now I’m actively trying to schedule gratitude into my daily life because I’m not naturally great at it. Maybe you should too.
Your Perfect Day doesn’t have to look much different from your average day. And that’s because feelings of wholeness and contentment don’t rest solely on external circumstances. Instead, the Perfect Day requires an internal shift, a deep knowing, a slow and steady movement in the general direction of all things pure, simple, and good in life.
So maybe we’re thinking about this all wrong. Maybe the goal is to make an average day feel extraordinary, over and over again.
Your Turn: What would a perfect yet ordinary day look like for you?