My best days used to drive me insane. One day everything’d come up roses…then the next I’d step on a tack straight from bed, bump my shin on the coffee table, spill coffee from said table on my groin, and curse and scream at minor inconveniences for the rest of the day!
If I could be high on gratitude and joy on any given day, what exactly was stopping me from doing it every day? After I asked this question, I started taking notes on all of my days to find out. And I began to see a pattern emerge:
Purpose, gratitude, meditation, fun and flow.
These elements leapt off the pages of my journal and became too obvious to ignore. So I planned for them. And when I executed the plan, I wound up having more best-days-ever (BDE) than not. Sticking with my formula, I’m currently on a two-week best-day streak.
Along with my days getting better, so have my weeks, months and years. I’ve overcome a clinical case of depression with this formula. I’ve created independence through the writing and coaching career I love so much. And I get to share the joy and inspiration I’ve discovered with everyone I meet, including you.
If you’re looking to make every day the best day of your life – and if you want to get a hot-streak going for the new year – adopt this five-step routine:
1-Plan for your purpose
Figure out exactly what it is that you want to accomplish today. What do you need to do be happy? And fit? And successful? Spend 5-10 minutes writing down the goals you want to accomplish today, then visualize what it feels like to have done your absolute best by the end of the day. Once you have the end result in mind, and once you get your attitude right, you’ll naturally follow through with a best day ever.
Before I adopted this part of the routine, there was a 99% chance that I wouldn’t do anything meaningful in a day. I just didn’t have a plan. But when I started writing down the things that would make me feel good, I always did them. Those self-directed accomplishments gave me purpose and a career where I help others by doing what I love.
If you’ve never been much of a planner, you can use the template below, which I’ve created for my coaching clients. Print it off and fill out the blanks each morning, or use it as a rubric for your own blank-paged journal.
2-Create a gratitude ritual
Gratitude is the emotion that enables our best performances and decisions. It beats fear, overwhelm, anxiety, and any other feeling that would derail your day. When you practice gratitude regularly, your days automatically become better and better – and it only takes minutes!
If I find gratitude early on as part of my morning ritual, I’m a thousand times likelier to be grateful and upbeat the rest of my day—in the challenges, in the mundane, in my good fortune, and in the people I’m blessed to have around. And if I don’t, my days are predictably “blah.” Gratitude really is something that must be practiced.
You can maximize the benefits of gratitude by setting non-negotiable daily routines.
From the second you awake, spend five minutes thinking about and feeling gratitude for the amazing people and things in your life. It’s ridiculously simple. Do the same before you turn off your lights before bed.
When you practice gratitude and optimism as a habit, you’ll naturally fall back on gratitude when it counts the most. The experiences to be grateful for are there in abundance, but it’s up to you to make them your focus. (If you plan for gratitude, you’ll find the time for it!)
Anxiety, fear, impatience, ingratitude—these are the emotions that ruin a day. But you can control them if you practice mindfulness.
In my hunt for the best day ever, I found that if I forgot to meditate for 10-20 minutes in the afternoon, I’d lose momentum and fizzle out into distraction and negativity. I wouldn’t want to be still. and I’d have a tendency to unconsciously feed those emotions that kill the golden glow of a BDE.
That’s why I’ve made mid-day meditation my standard. It gives me time to choose the thoughts that help me finish strong, and to identify the sources of negative emotions: like a project I’ve been putting off, or a negative inner dialogue that I’ve been ignoring, or a bad habit that I’ve indulged.
If you take 10-20 minutes every afternoon (after lunch is best), you’ll halt negative thoughts in their tracks and dramatically increase your chances of having the best day of your life.
4-Make time for fun
Best days ever aren’t exactly synonymous with best effort. You can schedule your day down to the minute; you can accomplish everything you’ve set out to; you can work 14 hours. But if you aren’t having fun…you won’t be inspired to repeat the ass-kicking tomorrow, and you won’t feel the golden glow that makes life great.
In the interest of having more of the best days of your life, you’ll need to start scheduling more fun more frequently.
I take thirty minutes each Sunday to plan for the week ahead, and I know the week will be effing fantastic when the fun side is just as big as the business side. Then every morning I’ll schedule one or more of those fun things that make life rich and feed into my creative work: rock climbing, hiking, beach volleyball, playing guitar, frisbee golf – anything that gives me a life high.
Stuart Brown, author of “Play” and eminent researcher on fun, has this to say on the subject:
“I don’t think it is too much to say that play can save your life. It certainly has salvaged mine. Life without play is a grinding, mechanical existence organized around doing the things necessary for survival. Play is the vital essence of life. It’s what makes life lively.”
Take ten minutes today to reflect on the fun things that you’ve quit or don’t do often enough, and also on the things that you’ve always wanted to do but have never made time for. Write them down and use them in your weekly fun plans!
Flow is the undistracted state where you wouldn’t want to be doing anything other than what you’re doing. When I’m in flow, I’m completely engaged in the activity at hand; all of my focus is zeroed in on progress, learning, or play. And if I spend more than half of my day in flow, I’m guaranteed to have the best day of my freaking life no matter what happens.
To enter flow, you need all four categories mentioned: purpose, gratitude, meditation, and fun. But even if you check off those boxes, you won’t find flow if you’re distracted. So eliminate all the distractions you can.
Because of Facebook, texts, and emails, some of my best days ever never were. Even though it felt good to check the notifications, I knew I could’ve been more focused on doing what I loved, and on being present. The more time I spend on distractions like Facebook, the less time I spend in flow, and the more unsatisfied I am at the end of the day.
That’s why I’ve chosen to eliminate most of my distractions. I’m in the middle of a month-long Facebook fast as we speak. (I check FB once a month.) And my one-email-and-one-text-per-day rule has given me all the focus and flow I need to write for the best publications in the world and enjoy the heck out of life.
So if you want more flow in your day, you gotta nix the distractions. Which ones will you sacrifice in order to have the best day of your life today?
I’m convinced that if more people made every day the best day of their lives, the biggest problems in this world would disappear. Bad romance wouldn’t exist because people would be happy enough not to settle for the wrong relationships. No one would need to escape life through drugs or alcohol. And the main causes of violence and crime—stress, feeling powerless, etc.—would evaporate.
But for that kind of sweeping change to happen, we’d need millions of people to commit every day to being the best day of their lives. Would you consider it? Start with the best-day-ever steps mentioned in this article—purpose, gratitude, meditation, fun, and flow. And start today!!!
If you need one-on-one coaching for your best life ever, check out my coaching page to see how I can help you.