A Good Day

February 24, 2012

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:

Going outside. 


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?

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  1. Mine sounds a lot like yours!

    Time. The gift of time is what I have these days, and I get to spend it on the things that I like to do.

    It hasn't always been like this, so I really appreciate the way that things are now.

    Happy Weekend, Kathy.

  2. Time is so precious--I'm glad you're experiencing more freedom in how you spend yours. Hope you have a great weekend.

  3. I never need alarm clocks although when I had a job I would set one and then wake up earlier than I was supposed to so I could turn it off before it went off!

    I like to start my day with quiet pacing around the house with a cup, or six, of coffee and then pretty much my day is like you like it except replace writing with arts and crafts!

    For me, too much excitement can take away from happiness. I am pretty much an introvert.

  4. I prefer my happiness on the quieter side, too, though I do enjoy a jolt of excitement now and then. Lucky you that you didn't need an alarm clock--that would be a more peaceful way to start the day. I tend to wake up around the same time every day, but at the moment that time is not quite early enough to get my son off to school, so I'm forced to use the clock radio. I really look forward to the day I don't need it anymore and can wake up on my own. Talk about simple pleasures!

  5. My good day is also similar to yours. I would substitute sewing and/or painting for the writing. I rarely use an alarm clock these days - but I have a cat who makes sure I'm awake early enough to feed him his breakfast, so I would like to wake up without a cat walking all over me (but still around - I love my cat in spite of his hunger! LOL!!).

  6. My preferred happy day is similar to yours, too. I LOVE puttering! Puttering is soul-restoring, for some reason. And of course there would be time to paint! Oh, and a wee bit of gardening...

  7. Cheryl--I used to have a furry alarm clock, too!. He would jump up on the dresser and knock things off until we got up. We eventually had to banish him from the bedroom altogether, because his internal alarm clock was waaa-aaay off, compared to when we needed to get up.

  8. Elizabeth--It's amazing how similar we all are in our description of a good day. Puttering is awesome--maybe because it's so gentle and relaxed, but you still feel like you accomplished something at the end?