Martha Beck wrote an article in the February issue of O Magazine about the difference between excitement and happiness. In it, Beck explains that “our culture has come to define happiness as an experience that blows your mind…. But happiness—real happiness—is something entirely different, at once calmer and more rewarding.”
This article reminded me of my own recent contemplation of what makes a good day—a plain, solid, happy day. What would it look like? Am I expecting exciting events or major achievements? Peak experiences? Or is happiness for me something much more subtle? And once I understood what contributed to a good day, how many of these things or experiences could I incorporate into my days?
On reflection, my definition of a good day is pretty simple. First, I’d wake up on my own, without using an alarm clock. I hate being jolted awake, and even my clock radio can be a little jarring. Maybe I hate being told what to do (“Get up!”) first thing in the morning? In addition to a peaceful waking up, I would like my good day to involve the following, in no particular order:
Doing something for someone else.
Writing, in a journal if nowhere else.
Paying attention to my animals.
Mostly eating healthy, real food.
Basking in some solitude in which to think.
Puttering around the house, setting things in order (NOT doing any major cleaning—do you think I’m crazy?)
Feeling like I have more than enough time to do what I want to do this day.
That’s one of my most treasured simple pleasures—feeling I have plenty of time. I seldom feel this way, however. More likely I feel behind and overwhelmed by the sheer number of things on my to-do list.
As Beck writes, “genuine happiness [is] abundant, sustainable delight in the beautiful moments of ordinary life.”
What does a good day look and feel like for you?