The warm weather this week has everyone excited. Everywhere I go, people have something to say about it (80 degrees in March!) and a smile on their faces when they talk about it. When I wake up in the morning now, I hear the birds chirping through my open window, indicating another glorious day. I get out of bed with a lightness that is missing in the cold, dark days of winter.
All of that leads me to think about my perfect day. This is a tool that I use with students as a starting point to figuring out their values. If you can make a list of things that constitute a good day for you, it gives you an idea of what is most important to you. What I’ve seen this week is that warm, sunny weather is very valuable to me!
Here are some other things that would make up a perfect (or very good) day:
- Time spent with friends or family. Whether I reach out to someone, or they make contact with me, it feels good to talk (in person or on the phone) with someone I’ve known a long time. It is a reminder that I have a support system out there.
- A really yummy meal that isn’t too unhealthy. I love to cook and I love to eat, so this is a significant part of the day. Having healthy food is a bonus because I can feel both satisfied and virtuous about the meal.
- Some work to do, but not too much. I like the challenge of work and feeling like I make a contribution to something bigger than myself. On the other hand, I like to have choices about how I spend my time.
- Some physical activity that I enjoy. There’s that good feeling of exhaustion that comes with working my body hard, but not too hard. I don’t need to run a marathon, but I like to get out and move. Running, hiking or yoga all fit the bill.
- A good book to read. I’ve written before about the important role books have played in my life, along with curiosity and learning. Whether I’m reading novels or non-fiction, I always take something from the books I read.
- Words of love or encouragement. This could be my kids saying, “I love you, Mom”; a student saying he was helped by my class; a co-worker praising my work; or even a stranger complimenting me on what I’m wearing. Affirmation always brightens my day.
- Physical contact with someone I love. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and the sense of touch an important way to communicate. Hugs and kisses are a necessity on a perfect day!
When I look at my list of “perfect day” requirements, I see that they correspond very closely to the six dimensions of wellness: Physical (the exercise and eating); Social (time spent with friends); Emotional (physical contact and words of love); Intellectual (reading); Occupational (working a little bit); and Spiritual (appreciating that warm, sunny day with the birds chirping). Without consciously thinking about it, my desires are reflecting my core values.
Do we know the perfect day when we are living it, or does it exist only in retrospect? Can we wake up every morning with the desire to live it well?