“The best day in your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. It is an amazing journey, and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.” —Anonymous
We wake up each day, often in our own bed, in the home that is ours whether directly or indirectly, and our mind too begins to wake up as well. The wheels turn by habit, and it is the habits we have cultivated that determine how we perceive the world, its possibilities, therefore our possibilities, the possibilities that the day will bring. Not expectations, mind you, which are different and actually distinctly subtly ruinous as when we have expectations, we close our minds off to any other possibilities that may delight, enliven, and deepen the beauty of the day. To awake each day and to hold our minds open to what could be, rather than narrowly focusing on what must or should be, our lives begin to change in the most amazing and beautifully wonderful ways.
So how do we give ourselves the best chance to make today the best day of our lives? Well, it all begins with each of us, as we have the leading role in our story that is our life journey.
Today I would like to share with you 7 ways you can give the best chance to making this the best day of your life.
1.Let go of all expectations
“Therefore, the best way to get what you really want out of life is to constantly adapt to the present, because there is wisdom in its uncertainty. When people expect to be made sublimely happy by getting married, having children, achieving a successful career, etc., they are substituting social norms for something deeper. Those external satisfactions can make you happy, of course, but psychological research once again indicates that they are highly unreliable.” —Deepak Chopra
I wanted to underscore the importance of letting go of expectations. As I mentioned above, they can indeed be ruinous, and it is interestingly enough, in our everydays that having expectations actually affects us more permanently and destructively because it becomes habit, and thus becomes limiting to what we see, and how we see everything that occurs in our lives.
As explained by Deepak Chopra above, often what we are seeking when we adhere to social norms that upon attaining don’t fulfill the goal of ‘happiness’ is actually the feeling we thought they would bring into our daily lives. Something that is fundamental to living simply luxuriously is cultivating a life of true contentment, not a life of happiness because contentment is what we can nurture within, and conversely, happiness occurs outside of us (listen to this podcast episode – #339 to further explore the difference between the two terms, that while relatedly are distinctively different).
It wasn’t until recently in my own life, upon experiencing true contentment in every day of my life, something I written about in my third book – The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment – that I realized what I had been unconsciously seeking by errantly trying to attain social norms in my own life that society observed as acceptable, were actually certain ways of feeling. While I will keep the specific feelings and grounding environmental gifts to myself, what is most important to share is that it wasn’t until I felt what I thought I would feel in other circumstances that made it easier to let go of pursuing what I thought I ‘had to pursue’ without a crumb of regret or worry. But the difficulty is understanding yourself well enough to know what you truly need and are truly seeking, and that takes conscious effort as you choose to become the student of yourself. Which leads me to #2 . . .
2. Enroll in (and pass) the class of [insert your name here]
Perhaps you had a friend in school who would skip class from time to time, and if you happened to be enrolled in the same class, a required class to graduate no less, they would sometimes nudge you to come with them, to skip just this once, etc., etc. But in their pressure to do so, they are asking you to skip for their purposes, for their gain and not considering what would be best for you.
Thankfully, I never had such a friend as I made my way through my academics, but such an example is an obvious one; a more difficult, yet none-the-less similar, one is to live our lives and not enroll and take seriously the necessity and priceless value of getting to know ourselves well. Really investing, really doing the homework, tending to the required tasks we don’t want to do because they necessitate that we ‘go-there’ and really understand certain feelings and sometimes ask us to say ‘no’ or put up boundaries with people we have never said no to before. Such prerequisites to pass the Course of Ourselves are emotionally taxing, extremely stressful temporary moments, but necessary moments as we begin to understand ourselves and what we need regardless of whether our ‘friends’ will understand and support.
~In 2010 I began a three-part series of posts sharing how to get to know yourself and also sharing some of the benefits. In 2018, my second book, Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Discovering Your Best Self, I explore and share in great detail how to discover your strengths and also build the necessary skills to step into your full potential.
3. Refrain from thinking about (and suggesting) how those you want in your life should/could change
One of the most significant energy zappers is the energy we expend on other people, trying to convince, argue with, or control how they live, behave or think. I say energy zappers because attempting to do so isn’t constructive. And it negatively affects our well-being because it takes away our focus and energy reserves to invest in constructive endeavors of all sorts.
We have talked multiple times about the importance of letting go, and about all the different ways letting go materializes in our lives, as well as the benefits of doing so. One such item to let go of this one – expending thought, action or words on trying to change, convince, or control other people.
With that being said, you are going to have to think thoughtfully about how much time you want to spend with people whose behaviors, language, way of living, etc. are causing stress in your life. Some people will never change and you will need to step away entirely or significantly, but I will share with you this piece of advice I have found to be true for me when it comes to people I want to spend time around: it is the people I am inspired to be around, that give my life and days breath and energy and uplift me. The only way to provoke meaningful change is to inspire it by how you live, and while it may not matter to some people how you live, that is also a part of the letting go – you don’t know who or how you influence or inspire by honoring your true self, but that is not for you to worry about. Your responsibility, your task, is to figure out what you can uniquely give and what brings you contentment, and to honor that. That is what the world needs, and yes, along the way, some people in your life at this moment will not be around in a month or year’s time in the same way and you not for them, but it need not be a painful fissure, but rather a natural one, as you live your life genuinely with loving-kindness and integrity and let them live theirs as they will.
Our decision to not engage or no longer try to change other people often times ushers in a wave of new energy that we have never had before, and because we have never had such an abundance before, we don’t know what to do with all of this new and extra energy. In fact, it may make us uncomfortable, unsettle us, but that is how change occurs. It is what we choose to do with the energy we have been given that will make the difference in the quality of our lives and enable the best day of our lives to occur more often than we had ever thought possible.
4. Surround yourself with people who model constructive, open-minded thinking, i.e. growth mindset
“Unless you are centered in a reliable sense of self, your old conditioning, family setting, strong impressions, and social background–all of which come from the past–are guiding your expectations, not you. To expect something is to foresee it in the future, and psychologists doing research on happiness have concluded that people are very bad at predicting what will actually make them happy. Expectations don’t often live up to what the present moment brings.” —Deepak Chopra
Often we are not consciously aware of the influence those closest to us have on our habits of thinking about the world, certain situations, and most importantly, how to move through our days. As a child, when we only hear our parents or one parent address a certain occurrence with a negative perspective, we too begin to see such a way of life as negative and try to avoid it, and if it occurs in our life, we immediately default to perceiving it as a negative, unable to see the opportunity, the gift that is being offered.
When we begin to live with self-awareness, and are fully present in the moment, we become conscious of the environments we place ourselves in, what we say yes to, what or how we are affected when we weaken our boundaries or let them falter. We observe and notice how our thoughts or words change as influenced by those around us either to appease, be accepted or to go along by habit if it is something that was ingrained from our past. But the good news is that you see it now. Your self-awareness takes note of what environment, who’s influence, is prompting you to think or behave in a manner that is not congruent with who you truly are and how you want to live, and so now you can begin to make better decisions.
5. Seek out work and a life that is fulfilling to you
Even if you are doing what you love and what fulfills you, there will be occasional moments or days that you are nervous about, perhaps a bit hesitant for it to begin, but often that is because it will stretch you, it is going to push you to grow in an arena you already know is exactly where you want to be. However, if you are dreading going to work or waking up in the morning having to deal with certain people in your personal life, and it is not a rare occurrence, nor not brought about because you haven’t taken the class of yourself (as discussed above), then you are going to have to be brave.
I share in chapter one and two of The Road to Le Papillon my journey to understanding and then honoring my path of fulfillment by retiring from teaching and stepping solely into writing, and by no means was it easy, and in fact it was a decision that took many years to reach and then act upon, but it was the best decision for me, and it has made all the difference in the quality of my everydays. Similarly, but in my personal life, I have moved on from relationships that I knew intuitively were not in the best interest of what would fulfill or honor or enable me to be most content and at peace. From romantic to platonic and even family relationships, I had to find the courage to lovingly, yet with integrity walk away, not knowing how it may have worked out or unfolded had I stayed, but trusting what I knew about myself.
When you sincerely invest in the time to get to know yourself, these answers because easier to reach. Don’t get me wrong, engaging in the act of making the change will not be easy, but the clarity of knowing what to do will be. However, the difficulty or stress is temporary and leads to deeper peace and greater enjoyment in the future connections and experiences awaiting you once you exercise your courage.
6. Strengthen the muscle of savoring
“When we teach ourselves that savoring is not indulgent but necessary . . . we are living consciously and elevating the quality of our lives. We are appreciating being alive, being human and as our stress-levels gradually decrease, we become better able to navigate through unwanted moments and we find a deeper, steady, resting state of contentment.” —episode #323, The Simple Sophisticate podcast
In episode #323 I shared the second part in a series of The Art of Savoring, and indeed it is a skill we must learn. To know how to savor is to accept that we have little to no control over the external events and people and weather, but rather it is how we engage with them, the thoughts we allow to run through our minds when such events occur. For example, during the first week of September, Bend experienced a handful of days with smoke in the skies. Certainly not what we wanted, but we were fortunate that we need not worry about our homes as they were not threatened by fire, and while such weather may shift what we can do – outdoor activities would need to be postponed, the mind instead went to what could be done constructively indoors, what can be savored inside that had not been planned but now we could partake in? And while certainly, conversations arise around climate and weather patterns and being a citizen aware of the effects of our choices from what we drive, to how we value and invest in and care for our natural economy given to us by Mother Nature, when extreme weather occurs, it is our everyday choices that compound like interest and that includes how we move through our days.
When we know and practice the skill of savoring, everyday can indeed be at the very least a good day, and yes, more than we may have thought possible can be deemed quite an extraordinary day.
7. Begin your days well, and that begins with your mind
One of the most challenging habits I had to reteach myself regarding my daily routine were the thoughts that I permitted to run around in my mind as I awoke to begin a new day. I say reteach, because I was taught these unhelpful habits. I was not born waking up worrying. And the worry stemmed from believing that my waking up too early was a sign that something was wrong – even though objectively, I was just awake. Fact. The second dart I threw into the situation was that it was wrong. Subjective. (explore what second dart throwing is and how it is unconstructive to living well in episode #327.) Waking up early, if earlier than I wanted, had been modeled to be a negative thing, but nothing was ever explored as to why I might be waking up early. For example, Was I getting the proper nutrition (often I would wake up early when I hadn’t fed my body enough substantive calories, especially when I was a young adult, and then crave food to fuel my growing body and mind), or Did I eat or drink something that didn’t sit well with me, or most powerfully, How was I managing my life when I was awake to honor truths that needed to be expressed, acted upon or dealt with in a manner that respected my true self and needs regardless of the opinion of those around me?
Something that has been written about before here on the blog is the shifting of our mind from the Lizard brain to the Sage brain (here and here), and when we do so, our lives change for the better, deepening our ability to live with true contentment. When it comes to waking up in the morning, no matter what time it is – too early or too late or just right, it is in that nascent moment of the day’s beginning that our Lizard brain has an opportunity to gain control because our brain is waking up, and since we steer our minds, and that takes a bit of time, until it becomes a habit, our thoughts may travel down paths that are not constructive if we have had in the past unhelpful habits instilled for many years.
With a strengthening of self-awareness and a willingness to acknowledge, confront and then change unhelpful habits and environments, the quality of your everydays will provide the potential for each day to become the best day of your life. It sounds fairy-tale-ish, but in my own life, after much time and many hurdles that gave me much to explore for deeper understanding of myself I now wake up, yes, sometimes too early, and I smile, and I think about all that is going well – much of it out of my control, but others within my control one of which is my mind of which I hold in my ability to move from the Lizard mind it awakes in and take it more swiftly to my Sage Mind. Near simultaneously, I also imagine the possibility that today does indeed have the potential to be the best day of my life so long as I engage and sincerely believe that it is so. That is the powerful part. We are participants, the leading role in fact, in the day that is about to begin. As the quote at the top of the post shares, we alone are responsible for the quality of our life. It doesn’t mean we have control over how it will unfold, but rather how we engage, and tending to what we do have control over which is ourselves, our mind and how we move through our day.
Wishing you a most wonderful day, each and everyday. You can do this. The courage resides within you to make your life one you enjoy. Bonne journée.
~Antoinette dans Les Cévennes (aka My Donkey, My Lover and I)