The 12 Ingredients for a Very Good Day
Monday June 10, 2024

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Nothing special occurred that might be written about in the newspaper or spotlighted on the news. Nobody applauded. And it is highly unlikely from the outsider’s vantage point gazing upon how the day unfolded would surmise a grand day was being savored . . . but I knew differently.

Back in March 2010, in one of the first months of TSLL’s beginning, six ingredients were shared for a perfect day. I remember at the time thinking carefully about these six concepts that ensure a wonderful day would be experienced. And as I reflect on that post today, each very much continues to be an ingredient noteworthy of including.

Fast forward to 2024, some 14 years later (and a few months ☺️), and more life has been lived, and a sharpening of awareness to what exactly ensures a very good day, or as perfect as we imperfect human beings can cultivate, prompts me to want to share an updated ingredient list.

As it would happen, just these past three days were, yep, dare I say, idéal. And so and primarily because, each day wasn’t rushed but unfolded at a quite lovely pace, I reflected yesterday on exactly why or how these three days reflected such beauty and depth of nourishment. After all, I had not traveled anywhere special, one day was even a work day, and no big plans or events took place. So what was it about these particular days?

Granted, these days had been tailored by me and knowledge of myself, so to look at the exact details and events wouldn’t suit everyone, so as I did back in 2010, I will share conceptual ingredients so that they will be applicable to everyone because as is often shared here on TSLL blog, it is the thoughtful and conscious tailoring of our days and thus our lives that provides the most likely opportunity for a life of deep fulfillment.

Let’s take a look at the ingredient list:

1.A sense of accomplishment

The original list of ingredients also includes this item because no matter how large or seemingly small, when we complete or make progress toward a desired goal or improve something or learn something new, as a study in 2011 for the Journal of Neuroscience points out, dopamine is released in our bodies/minds and it feels good. We create a feeling of natural reward within the body when we accomplish something we consciously have chosen to do.

Just yesterday, upon figuring out why one of my sprinklers wasn’t watering an area of my garden, followed by a decent amount of physical effort, knowing I had solved a dilemma that had been thwarting thriving plants, elation flooded my body and if you had passed by me in the garden at the moment, no doubt a smile would have been on my face.

One important detail to point out is that the amount of productivity is less a cause of deep satisfaction than the quality. Aligning with the ethos of living simply luxuriously, even if we only finish one step toward a particular goal, so long as we know we did it to the best of our ability and thoroughly, that step will bring much more satisfaction than finishing many tasks quickly but perhaps with less depth of thought, detail, etc.

2. Ritualized nourishment

Having routines for certain days of the week, perhaps each day of the week regarding some daily needs – meals, caring for our health and body, etc. – enables us to move smoothly through our day without expending unnecessary energy to remember them and simultaneously doing something that nourishes us, BUT when some of these routines become rituals – in episode #380 we talked about the difference between HOW we engage with the routine – the day becomes sweeter, more delicious and deeply nourishing.

From dishes you choose to use to enjoy your breakfast upon, the teacup or coffee mug you choose for the first sip of the day, where you sit in the afternoon and how you adorn the snug where you take a deep breath and slow down ensuring you are not rushing through your life, these conscious designs in our day (I will share many examples in the posts/episodes listed just below), adorn an everyday elevating it into a day that is no more ordinary than Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s – our conscious choices change everything. There is a reason this classic of a film hasn’t been remade because there is not another Audrey Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn is Holly Golightly and forever will be. 😌

How we design our everyday routines connects more emotionally to the experience and that holds us in the present which invites us to savor this chosen action.

3. Waking from a deep, uninterrupted night’s sleep

One of the most energizing, enriching and enjoyable ways a day can begin is to wake up naturally after a full, deep and thus, restful night’s sleep. I no longer assume a good night sleep will occur, so every time I wake up and feel rested, I consciously acknowledge the powerful nourishment I have received. This may seem over the top, but to experience a day without a sound night’s sleep is to immediately know the difference our sleep provides when we prioritize it.

It is important to note that while we have much control over creating an environment that can help welcome this night of slumber we seek – a couple of years ago I shared 36 bedtime rituals to put the odds in our favor – there will be times when no matter what we do, factors that cause us to wake up are out of our control. Which is why, I both put the odds in my favor by consciously investing in the possibility of a good night’s sleep and do a bit of a happy dance when I stretch in the morning after waking up following such sleep. (click here to explore all of the benefits we gain when we have a good night of sleep)

4. A skincare routine that cares for our skin well and feels good partaking in

After years of experimenting and exploring what products work best as well as now educating myself on how to care well for my skin to ensure it looks its best for decades to come, when we find products and rituals that help us look our natural best, there is a pleasure in both the process as well as peace of mind that arises when we engage with the routine we have chosen and no doubt invested in.

I include this item on the list not flippantly, but with serious consideration because if ever there is a day where I cannot cleanse my skin properly before I go to sleep or moisturize my skin well as well as protect it, I am uncomfortable to say the least. Much like wearing an effortless wardrobe that both makes me feel good in my style but enables me to go about my day as I need, the same is said, at least in my daily life, of my skin – face and entire body. So I include this ingredient as a reminder and reassurance that your journey to figuring out what works best for you to care for your skin well is a worthwhile pursuit because when you do find what works and what feels good, you will know why you put in all the effort, tried the products that didn’t live up to the promise, and be confident that you now know a crucial piece of both feeling well in your skin (pun intended) and presenting your best self.

`~Be sure to stop by later this week to read the monthly Ponderings . . . post where I will share my new addition to my skincare routine that took me years to discover, but upon doing so, knew immediately it would be part my daily skincare regimen for many years to come. `

5. Loving companionship

In whichever form aligns with your temperament, whether you share time with them throughout the entire day or for an hour, connecting and choosing to be in the same place and time with a person, our pets or people who engage with how we go about our day, sharing moments with loving others calms our being and mind and provides nourishment as well as deep enjoyment.

Earlier this spring one of my neighbors was kindly helping me with a task in the garden, and for a couple of days his wife was traveling abroad, so I offered some baked goods saying, “I know that you are alone while your wife is away, so would you like . . . [offering the baked goods]? (and my use of ‘alone’ was in error and a reflex which coming from me didn’t accurately reflect my observation or what I knew to be true, so immediately I caught myself and appreciated his response even more). He immediately smiled and said genuinely, “I am not alone. I have [his pup’s name]!” He, being a devoted dog lover, I knew this was absolutely true. His dog provides immense companionship for him – they bike and hike and walk together each day, and as I mentioned, I immediately kicked myself because the phrasing I used “alone” was not accurate and dismissed what I too knew to be true.

I share this anecdote for anyone who needs to read it who also genuinely enjoys the company of their pets. The only time in my own life I have felt lonely and deeply uncomfortable was when I was without my pets during my four years at undergrad where I was surrounded day and night by oodles of people and even lived in very intimate quarters with people. I have not once ever felt alone when I am in the company of my pups, which upon stepping into graduate school, the first thing I did was welcome a pup into my life who even went to classes with me (thank you University of Oregon!), and for me, they – my pups – truly do provide the type and most nourishing connection on a regular basis for the life that brings me to life. While yes, I enjoy connecting with humans, as I have shared many times on the blog, often I am drained following long-durations of time with other people, not energized, and I have now designed my life to honor my needs regardless of what others may think or find to be true in their lives.

I share all of this to encourage you to seek out the type and amount of companionship that suits you best, and savor it when you’ve found it because it may take some time and acceptance as well as strength to embrace what you know to be true in your being.


6. Physical movement

Whether vigorous exercise or a long stroll on your favorite walking path, doing something that elevates your heart rate for a duration will help you physically feel better, stimulate the mind and help to pull you back into the present and away from any dwelling or wondering (past or future).

In episode #190, the topic focused on how to get and stay fit, and beauty of having a physical fitness regimen that works is then you begin to enjoy it all the more because you know it is nourishing you. Even if there is a bit of strain and challenge, which is all for the good in a variety of health arenas both for our immediate health and longevity, when we make sure to include some sort of physical movement, by day’s end we can feel satisfied knowing we gave our body and yep, mind, a natural ‘vitamin’ of wellness.


7. Read something enjoyable, interesting, and/or enlightening.

Perhaps this is the English teacher in me coming out, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t read something. Books are sprinkled about my house in every room, often in multiple places in every room, as well as publications – newspapers and magazines, so I will pick up and read something based on my mood and curiosity and where I want to sit and relax.

Sometimes I want to learn something, so I will pick up a non-fiction book. Other times I want to escape to France and solve a mystery in a beautiful Gallic setting, so I will open the pages of the latest Jean-Luc Bannalec caper set in Brittany I am reading. Or maybe I don’t want to have to think too deeply and simply want to feast upon beauty, so I will open and flip through the pages of a favorite magazine (for me this would be anything to do with gardening, France or England ☺️).

In other words, feed your day well with what you read. Make sure that what you are reading enlightens, inspires and energizes rather than creates fear or feeds your worries. I am not saying don’t read the news. In fact, on one of my three days that I alluded to above, I read the weekend newspapers – informational sections as well as lifestyle, but I am thoughtful about informing myself with credible sources, reading critically (something I will teach in detail – critical thinking and analysis – in the upcoming Contentment Masterclass as this was my primary objective while teaching AP Language for 11 years). It is all about be conscious about what we consume regarding information and when we do so, the quality of our days elevates.

8. Conscious use of technology

Whether your day includes the choice of no technology or using it but with consideration and not being tethered to it, when we put ourselves in the driver’s seat and are not reacting to our phone or devices, we gain back our day.

A couple of ways to consciously use technology. Oh! But first, when we recognize why we in many ways behave like Pavlov’s dog when our phone pings, rings or vibrates, it is then that we can begin to stop being controlled by our devices and pulled away unnecessarily from a most wonderful day. (A quick summary – it is the reward of the dopamine rush that prompts us to want to check our email far too many times, see who texted or called or . . . you get the idea.)

Rarely is the use of technology – to use or not to use – such a simple rule we set in our lives. Instead it is fluid and ever changing based on what we are doing and who we need to stay in contact with. BUT, we must be the decision-maker of how we use it and how it affects the day’s events, our emotions, etc.

Often on the weekends I designate one day to step entirely away from my phone, but on another weekend day – such as Saturday during the gardening months, that is the primary day of the week I share photos of my gardening adventures with followers on my @lepapillongarden account, so I don’t limit myself if doing so provides a purpose and is done with intention.

Another way I ensure I am the driver of my day’s events is to silence my phone, so that there aren’t any noises coming from it. I then determine when I consciously choose to check it.

When we know we are choosing, not reacting to how we utilize technology during our day, and we are choosing to do so in a manner that is constructive to our days and not wasting our time, then the day’s quality is strengthened and we have taken control of something that is entirely within our control to design well.

9. An outing to experience something outside of ourself and/or deepen appreciation

Quite vague and yet again will be unique to where you live, find yourself or what you have access to, but as I reflected on the past two days, each day included an outing outside of my home to connect somehow or experience something my community made available to me.

One day we went to a favorite park and dog park and connected serendipitously with fellow dog owners having a wonderful conversation, and our pups thoroughly enjoyed meeting each other. On the other day, I decided to visit a new gelato shop that had just opened in Bend and pair it with a nice evening stroll through the heart of Bend and Drake Park.

Each of these outings were, again, to the outsider looking in, simple and nothing special, but to me they were an absolute delight! When we are fully present in whatever outing we choose, the experience becomes all the more rich and wonderful. Our appreciation deepens because we are choosing to experience all that is made available to us. For me, Bend is a wealth of friendly people who love the outdoors and their pups like children, but also love a delicious and locally sourced food creation. As an active community, we care well for our outdoor spaces and make them walkable, so mixing up my evening constitutional by walking somewhere I love but don’t usually walk during the evenings made it somewhat new as well as deeply special because it is a beloved locale in Bend.

10. Mother Nature

Each day I consider myself fortunate to delight in something that only Mother Nature can provide. From the chirping of the birds, the spring falling rains, blooming something somewhere – whether my garden or at a local park, or simply fresh air, so much nourishment and grounding occurs when I make sure to include this ingredient in my day.

So much of what has been included in the list of ingredients involves providing our mind the opportunity for a natural mood boost through the release of dopamine or any of the other natural ‘drugs’ our body releases that makes us feel good. And Mother Nature provides this opportunity. We need not go on a long hike and camp out in the woods, but simply be conscious about adding awareness to remember to take note of what Mother Nature provides wherever we find ourselves.

We each will respond differently to various aspects of Mother Nature’s offerings; however, it is Mother Nature’s special talent to remind us of how to live well if only we would pay attention, so however you savor her gifts, don’t forget to do so regularly.


11. Savor something of beauty

Whether found in the music we listen to, the art we gaze upon, how we decorate our homes or cultivate in our garden, beauty affects the brain positively. How? While what we each deem as ‘beautiful’ will be different based on a variety of factors, once our brain deems something as beautiful, when it sees it or experiences it (a sound, touch, etc.), the dopamine again returns. It is a system of reward and pleasure and a very happy place for our brain to reside which is why a lovely detail, or ingredient, to include in our day is beauty in one form or another.

Whether the beauty is found in our homes and gardens with the choices we make and surround ourselves with each day or each season as the case may be in our gardens, or if we take ourselves to a museum or exhibit, watch a movie or show with exquisite sets and wardrobe, or maybe we simply turn on beautiful music to fill our homes, or perhaps go to a live concert, however we experience beauty, we most certainly are elevating the quality of our experience for a very good day indeed.

12. Time to just be still – being, not doing

And now, perhaps one of the most important ingredients, and this really communicates clearly whether you are the curator of your day and living mindfully or if you are reacting to what is going on around you and don’t assert yourself helpfully, ensure you find time to just be. Be still, eyes wide open or shut, but fully conscious.

I found myself sitting on the front porch one of the afternoons these past couple of days, having put my book down from reading, the neighborhood was fairly quiet with only its regular activities of neighbors tending to tasks in their garages or walking or driving by occasionally, but not in a rush as it was the weekend, and I just sat there, eyes open, looking at nothing in particular and just being grateful. Watching the pups nap, listening to the birds romp about around the café nibbling on seeds, delighting in the bees that danced about the nepeta, and just holding myself entirely in the present moment, not asking or wishing for more, but savoring all that was right there before me.

Days to savor. We have the ability to make these days more frequent that not, and even when a day isn’t one to savor or that we would have chosen, it is ironically by having such unwanted days or moments that make the days that do go smoothly all the more special because we know they aren’t guaranteed.

However, what is a guarantee is that we have to play an active role in selecting the ingredients that when chosen create a day we will love. Knowing ourselves is where it all begins, the creation of the recipe that will provide the best opportunity for an amazing day to savor. And while there will always be moments we can’t predict, how we engage with them, our mindset of how we perceive them and the amount of gratitude we practice will determine whether it is a day to savor deeply.

I am confident you have many awesome days beginning today and in your future, and hopefully this list provides a bit of insight into why the great days you have already experienced were so memorable in the very best of ways.


20 thoughts on “The 12 Ingredients for a Very Good Day

  1. Hello Shannon,
    I love how your suggestions are so doable and obtainable right now. Our society seems so caught up in the “now” that we forget to enjoy our lives, although we already have everything we really need to make a lovely life. Thank you for the reminders.

    1. Thank you for stopping by PKB 😌 And for sharing your thoughts on these ideas that when we consciously implement really can make a powerfully positive difference in our daily experience. 💛

  2. Oh, I love this post!!! I believe in every one of them but I do wish that I were able to get up with the sun. I know that our bodies are meant to do this but as a teacher, I get up early and get to my classroom early, too, preparing for my students. I try to make up for that on the weekends though. Mahalo for reminding us to savor our experiences and to live in the moment.

    1. Leilani,

      I completely understand your desire and it really is a need isn’t it? I felt the same way while teaching and so savored those weekend when I could honor my body’s needs. While waking before the sun isn’t necessarily enjoyable, knowing you are prepared for your students is a peace of mind that empowers the rest of the day, and perhaps that is a worthwhile trade-off. Wishing you a wonderful conclusion to this school year and a lovely, rejuvenating summer. 😌

  3. It is interesting how topics come up just when they are needed. This is a great post and a perfect reminder at just the right time for me. Thank you, this is a great way to start off the week.

    1. Cheers to the serendipity! I too have to remind myself of what exactly made a good day that I so enjoyed and savored, so writing this post was helpful for me too. Glad to hear you found what was helpful. Thank you for stopping by 😌

  4. This is a great list. I am consciously trying to have a slow summer this year. I work in education so summers off are truly appreciated for the time to decompress and evaluate how I want to enjoy my life. I take time to sit on my front porch almost daily among all my houseplants which are outside for the summer. This area has become my secluded sanctuary for reading and just being and observing my thoughts. Something my husband and I want to enjoy more this year is attending local concerts in the park. It’s a chance to listen to and appreciate live music on warm evenings and just says “summer” to me.

    1. Deb,

      May your slower paced summer materialize so that oodles of savoring and rejuvenation takes place just as you have hoped. 😌 Your sanctuary sounds quite inviting. Thank you for painting a picture for us all. And your music in the parks sounds like a fantastic way to savor the summer and the slower pace. We have many of those here – smaller performance places aside from the big amphitheater – all free, and it is something I need to visit a few times this year. Thank you for the reminder of this special piece both our local communities offer. 😌

  5. Thank you for sharing this very engaging list. I often have to plan my time more carefully to accomplish some of these but a timely reminder is always a good thing. Since this happens more often than one would think, your timing could not be better. A smile knowing that you were on the right track from the beginning. Best wishes and hugs to Norman and Nelle. I saw little Nelle’s twin the other day, oh my, what a charmer!

    1. Lucy,

      The conscious attention, or should I say intention to tend to this ‘recipe’ does require upfront planning in some ways as you have shared, and indeed, it is a worthwhile investment. ☺️ Tickled you saw Nelle’s doppelgänger ☺️🐾 Thank you for sharing.

  6. Beautiful article, Shannon; thank you. And what may be my favorite picture ever of Norman, with his sweet little face upturned and flowers in his hair.

  7. Love this list Shannon. Such a good reminder of how to be present in our day! I absolutely agree that it starts with getting an uninterrupted night’s sleep. I’ve been struggling with this recently and definitely notice the difference to my days when they are followed by nights that are blessed with good, long slumber 😴
    Also, just want to point out that the numbering is off on your list – #4 & #5 are repeated. I read down to the 10th “ingredient” and was wondering where the other 2 were; until I noticed the duplication 😉
    Wishing you a wonderful week!

    1. Dani,
      Thank you for letting me know about the numbers. My error! Now fixed as well as a few typos – oh my goodness. Appreciate your stopping by and for your comment and thoughts on this topic.

  8. Thank you for writing this, it helped me today. Yes to all. I need to improve on #3. As for #4, I have made lately a little improvement by doing a short facial massage with a gua sha stone in the evening. It is a tiny thing but it relaxes me rather. It might also improve the skin. 😉

    Lovely photo of the kids! XO

    1. Isabel, your facial massage ritual sounds as though it must feel wonderful. Thank you for sharing. 😌 And I am confident with your determination, good sleep is yours to be had on a regular basis. Thank you for stopping by. 💛

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