At the end of the day, when your head hits the pillow, do you look back on the day that’s just finished and think a bit about the day to come?
That’s usually what runs through my head in those minutes just before I fall into a deep sleep. I mostly reflect on my day and try to decide, on some level, whether it was a good day or not.
What makes for a good day?
I laughed, I cried, I thought. In the words of Jim Valvano:
To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.
On top of that, though, I think there’s another vital piece to a good day. I accomplished something that’s purely for the long term future.
What did I do today that will actually help me out in ten years?
Most of the things we do in a given day disappear pretty quickly. A great meal is a wonderful experience, but when you clean off the table, what’s left? All of the little errands we do disappear like snow on a warm afternoon.
What’s left? If you didn’t do anything today that leaves behind something for the future, did you really do anything at all?
Did you take another step in building a skill? Did you write a few more pages in that novel you’ve been working on? Did you spend some time cultivating a friendship?
Improvements in yourself. Relationships. Major projects. Those are the things that last.
Don’t fill every waking hour with fulfilling yourself in the moment. Build something for tomorrow, whether it’s a step toward a new career path (or a higher trajectory than the one you’re on), a new lifelong friendship or relationship, or some great personal achievement.
When your head hits the pillow tonight, will you be able to say that today was a good day? I hope so.