By Sophia Godkin PhD
Our lives are essentially a collection of years, years a collection of months, months a collection of weeks, and weeks a collection of days. So when you ponder how to really, truly create the life of your dreams, focus on a single day. Knowing that this day is contributing in a very big way to the kind of life you wish to create, ask yourself “How can I make this day a day worth living?”
After many consecutive days and years of asking myself this question, here is what I’ve discovered as to how you can make every day a day worth living, in 10 simple steps.
- Rise with the sun. There is just something so beautiful and life-giving about waking up along with mother nature, before the rest of the world is up, and watching the sun rise. There is a sense of peace that ensues from knowing that you have all the time in the world to do all that you need. So move at the pace that is natural for you as you ease your body and mind into the day. After all, just as the natural rhythm of mother nature suggests, there is absolutely no need to rush.
- Take five long deep breaths in and out. Let breathing consciously be the first thing you do as you wake. Simply wake up, resist the urge to reach for your phone, and take five deep breaths as you pay attention to the inflow and outflow of the force that gives you life. Tuning in to the natural state of your breath unites you with the peace that is always within you and has an almost uncanny ability to keep the chaos of the world at bay. When you do so in the early hours of the day, you invite your attention to more consciously orient towards your breath and away from dwelling on incessant thoughts for remainder of the day.
- Express gratitude for what you have. Start the day by focusing on what you do have, rather than what you don’t have. Guide your attention to all that’s sweet in your life – from the small things to the big. Bring to mind the beautiful way in which the sun shone this morning, the delicious meal and conversation you shared with a friend the other day,and the fact that you are alive with so many options by which to pursue your own joy. Feel the sense of accomplishment of having created a positive mood that will decide your mood for the remainder of the day. For if you accomplish a pure feeling of gratitude just as the sun rises, you have already accomplished more than the majority of the world will accomplish in the next 24 hours.
- Dream. The future is created today. So let yourself dream a little. With gratitude for all the sweetness that’s already here, envision all that you want. Sit in a beautiful spot and take your heart, soul, and mind on a journey into the future. Not just any future, but a future that contains all that you’ve ever wanted to be, do, and feel. Feel the feeling of experiencing all of your heart’s desires and rest in the contentment of knowing that it is all on its way. With regrets of the past behind you and only the present in front of you, dream yourself into the future that you desire and deserve. After all, “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” (Eleanor Roosevelt).
- Do something fun. As a society, we tend to be quite good at taking life seriously – at working really hard, for long periods of time, doing things we often don’t enjoy. But life, in fact, is not as serious as we make it out to be! So pause right now and smile. Smile in knowing that your attitude towards life is up to you. That if you approach it with a stern attitude and don’t seek opportunity for pleasure, that’s what you will get. And that if you approach it with lightheartedness and set your sights on having fun, you will see more and more opportunities for fun and pleasure appearing around you. Fun isn’t reserved for weekends either. Do something fun today.
- Do something for someone else. Lend a helping hand to a stranger or friend. Slow down your car and let someone easily enter into your lane. Give someone a ride. Giving, after all, is receiving. Any time you do a good deed for another person, you are doing a good deed for your own self. In fact. it’s impossible to not feel joy after helping another person – we are hard-wired for it. And each act of kindness, no matter how small, creates ripples that make the world a much better place. What a wonderful feeling it is to know that you can be a part of creating that ripple every single day!
- Get some sunlight. With added sunlight in your day, you are rendering yourself more energized, more hormonally balanced, and overall healthier. Of the many benefits of sunshine, however, none is greater than its happiness-inducing effect. (Thank you serotonin!) So step away from your cubicle, leave your shades at your desk, take a 10-15 minute break or eat your lunch outside, and let direct exposure of your skin and eyes to natural sunlight render your days brighter and lighter.
- Move your body. Give your body some love. Stretch it from head to toe. Take it out for a walk. Dance it to the beat of a drum. Play. Climb. Find something that fits your style and do it. Because when you give your body love, you give all of you love. You boost your mood, raise your confidence, enhance your brain power, and create a positive outlook for the rest of the day. Couple that with the mood- and energy-boosting power of #7 by taking it outside and you’ve got yourself a flawless recipe for daily happiness.
- Put a smile on someone’s face. There are so many opportunities in the day to brighten someone else’s mood and to make them feel loved and worthy. So why not smile at the stranger walking past you on the street, compliment a co-worker on something you genuinely appreciate about them, or express gratitude to a friend for being there for you? Share the love by setting your eyes and your heart on making at least one person smile each day. You never know how a simple smile may change a life.
- Learn or do something new. There is nothing quite as invigorating as learning a new piece of knowledge or gaining a self-awareness you haven’t had before. Your brain is always yearning to make a new neural connection and your mind to see things differently than it has in the past. To make this happen, deviate from your routine, step outside of your comfort zone, go out and do something you haven’t done before. Share a conversation with an unlikely stranger, read a chapter of a book you normally wouldn’t gravitate to, visit a part of your city you haven’t been to before. Let yourself be pulled by the vision of an evolved you. Because after all, every bit of experience and every bit of knowledge, when applied, changes you and makes you into the next and best version of you.
Couple these steps with elements that are personal to you (because you express preferences and desires that are unique to you) and there’s no doubt that you can create a day worth living. Make this your goal each and every day. Because a day worth living becomes a life worth living. And a life worth living is a life worth loving.