As you guys might remember from this post, I’m a big podcast junkie—I like to have them playing when I’m commuting, when I’m meal prepping, when I’m grocery shopping, when I’m out for a walk, etc. I pretty much devour anything geared towards entrepreneurs or the science of motivation—psych was my major in university and before I ultimately decided to pursue journalism (which led to To Vogue or Bust being born!) I thought I would potentially pursue social psychology with a real focus on the science and psychology behind motivation so obviously, a natural interest there!
But obviously, many years have passed since I was sitting at my desk devouring as much academic lit about this little pocket of psychology as I could. I luckily retained a lot of what I learned then (probably because it resonated so much with me) but am so happy I found these podcasts now that highlight new info and new strategies so that this passion of mine stays alive! One concept in particular that I’ve kept stumbling upon on a few of my favourite podcasts lately was the idea of a “perfect day.” I’d just wrapped up my birthday and of course, you typically always try to engineer a perfect day then so I already had that concept on my mind, but it got me really thinking about the potential implications of trying to create as many “perfect days” as possible and what that could mean for my overall happiness, work, life, etc (I know, I know, I’m a huge dork).
When I thought about as many days as I could that felt pretty near perfect, I realized the same 4-5 elements kept showing up. Oddly enough, it wasn’t until looking back and tracking it that I realized how easy it would be to simply include as many of these requisite elements as possible in every day (with the small exception of some days obviously, like a travel day, a genuine work crunch days on urgent deadlines or days when you’re confronted with the truly unexpected). In other words, the elusive “perfect day” wasn’t really so elusive at all most of the time—it just involved a perfect mix of simple day-to-day things that make me happy.
I think each person’s perfect day will obviously be different, but in the hopes that maybe this helps similarly inspire you to take a look at the days that make you happiest, I thought I’d share the building blocks of mine and a few key strategies to help you fine tune yours! So without further ado, my perfect days typically always consist of…
I know, boring! But it’s true—I’m a really active person and always have been so this one was an obvious one before I even started looking back on my former perfect days, but I genuinely believe moving and being active is key for everyone with maybe very, very rare exceptions. So for me, having a really good sweat is key—surprisingly, the days when I worked out hardest were often my happiest ones. More of a dopamine hit? Or more of a personal sense of achievement? Whatever the case, despite my tired body, it seems like the days when I really pushed my limits were my happiest ones! At any rate, if you need some tips in getting your fitness going, definitely check out my wellness category!
As you guys might know from reading my morning routine post, I’m pretty strict about my AM’s because I have such a variable schedule and feel like these mindful starts really set the stage for my whole day. But in looking back on my perfect days, it was really just being present, reflective and mindful every day—while some days included meditation, a lot of them were just being mindful and present in some form or another. Take a particularly amazing day in Victoria years ago when I was biking to my friends’ place—I’d worked out earlier in the day, had wrapped up my course and while biking to meet up with my girls, stopped mid-bike to take in this unreal, heavenly sunset. I remember this moment so vividly and how happy I was then. I think while meditating has been so key for me (see this post for my tips!) because it encourages me to have more of these mindful moments, just hitting the brakes and taking in beauty or really absorbing a happy moment seems to be a key component in every perfect day (and since I’m in Van, it’s easy enough to work in some awe every day since we live in such a beautiful little part of the world!).
Most of my perfect days aren’t spent alone and typically always include being with people I love, which as an extraverted person who really values my relationships, I kind of expected. Unfortunately for me though as a self-employed baws, I often spend a lot of time alone (which is why my friends/family/Matt can attest to me being kinda clingy at times because I honestly don’t really need as much “alone time” as the average person probably does and get way too much of it for my liking, so when they’re around I’m like OH THANK GOD HELLO I LOVE YOU STAY HERE DON’T GO). What this shows to me though is that even though I often get into this mindset of must-finish-all-work-no-time-for-fun when the work crunch gets real (which it coincidentally has been this month a lot) and do really value the flexibility of being self-employed, carving out time with those I love is more key than even I expected it to be. Just having some silly fun, grabbing cocktails, doing a workout together, cozying up for a movie, going for a walk, etc—whatever it is, it’s clear to me though that my happiness relies a lot on the strength of my relationships and logging in time with my peeps, so just getting an in-person connection as much as possible seems to translate into a much happier day.
I kind of expected all of my perfect days to be work-free but in looking back at a lot of them, with the exception of travelling (which in itself can be a bit work-like what with planning and scheduling and coordinating), most of them actually involve some serious work. There’s a distinguishing feature or two of this work though: it has a clear start and end (which is hard to set as a self-employed humanoid), it interestingly always included something really tough or something I’d been putting off and it also involved a feeling of “flow.” For me, being in the flow usually means I have a timer going (I work really well on deadlines, even self-imposed ones!) and it means I cleared distractions away. I also found it interesting that oftentimes, my perfect days included doing something I had previously not wanted to do work-wise—that whole “eat the frogs first” concept definitely seems to ring true for me, and kind of seems to tie in with the exercise component in hitting some sort of achievement work- or health-wise.
This is a massively general term to use but it kind of overlaps some of the other elements of my perfect day so want to keep it broad! It’s also maybe my most consistent and present element in all these perfect days I can think of. Whether I’m staring up at my first sunset in Paris and feeling so in love with this new-to-me city, am lying next to Matty taking in the most majestic sunset in Crete, have friendly help from a stranger on the bus in Ireland, laugh over cocktails with my best friends upstairs on my upstairs patio, or feel really still and connected to Mother Nature while watching a seal family pop up next to my canoe at the cabin, I never feel alone in any scenario. Whether it’s through the awe of travelling, the beauty of nature, the clarity of being still or the love of my fave peeps, I always feel connected to something or someone. Again, this one’s kind of a half category since it involves so many of the other ones, but I think it’s important to note on its own because it involves a certain level of presence and intention!
Keep it simple, stupid. I’m an over-thinker, which is why I really like meditating. My brain’s natural draw is to go down the rabbit hole with really big questions, and it’s ultimately always actually kind of distressing for me because it doesn’t stop. For instance, the other day I started thinking out loud about space to Matt. It’s really trippy when you think of the limitless bounds of the universe, I said. Or is it limitless? What are its limits if there are in fact limits? Where are those limits? Who exists at those limits? Will we ever reach them? What’s outside of the universe’s limits if there are limits? How are the confines of this universe defined? Or is it true that the universe is expanding and if so, again, what exactly is it expanding into?! This was about the point where Matt stopped me because I was legitimately starting to spin out. This, my friends, is why I don’t do drugs. Clearly, I know how to trip out all on my own.
So in other words, paradoxically, the days that are most meaningful and happy to me are the ones when I actually don’t really go deep (and clearly, they’re definitely days when I don’t think too much about space). The days that are the best are more about doing than thinking, when I just enjoy the days as they are, when I get outside and see my friends or Matt or my family, when I appreciate the beauty around me, when I feel full of vitality and strength through a workout and when I feel grateful for the work (or formerly, education) I get to do. I spend a lot more time on these days experiencing and absorbing than I do actively reflecting or thinking—probably why all of my perfect days take place in the spring or summer since I’m outside experiencing life instead of being holed up inside. And I think ultimately, that’s how my personal recipe for a perfect day comes together to make this beautiful, everyday experience: I feel accomplishment with work and with fitness, I feel healthy and in touch with my body and I connect with my surroundings and my fave people, all while giving myself the head space I need to really be present. Simple but happy!
When you think about it, what makes up a perfect day for you? Would love if you’d share in the comments below and to give any tips you have for uncovering others’ perfect days!
Photos by Alicia Fashionista