Updated on 12.03.08

The Best Moment of Your Day

Trent Hamm

Journal by basykes on Flickr!My wife keeps a pretty simple journal. In it, she simply notes the best moment of her day (and occasionally a few other things).

Usually, these notes are simple ones. She’ll talk about opening up the first day of the Advent calendar with our kids, or a nice conversation we had while the kids were napping, or a breakthrough moment she had with a student (she’s a teacher).

Taken together, though, they establish a clear pattern. The moments that are continually important to her revolve around our marriage, our children, and teaching. Those things bring about the joys in her life over and over again.

Lately, I’ve been doing the same thing – just noting the high point of each day. Most of these seem to revolve around my family, especially my children, and a few revolve around writing.

What’s perhaps most interesting of all is that after almost two months of writing down the best part of my day, none of them seem to involve a material purchase. Not a single one.

Most of the moments involve conversations, actually – a moment shared with someone else. Some of them involve teaching moments – helping my daughter to take her first steps or teaching my son how to put a diaper on his teddy bear. One involved reading a book I had checked out from the library and making a connection between a passage in it and a deceased relative that I miss dearly – it made me feel deeply connected to him, even though he’s been gone for years.

These are the moments that make up my life. It doesn’t matter what kind of house I live in or what kind of car I own or how many video games I have or anything else.

The only things that matter are time and love.

When you go to bed tonight – and for the next few nights – spend a few moments reflecting on what the best moment of your day was. You might even want to jot them down for a few days.

Then, after you’ve accumulated some of these “best moments,” look at what they have in common. Given enough time, they’ll point you directly towards what the most important parts of your life really are – and you’ll likely find that spending money and material goods don’t have much of a role at all.

After that, you might just find that the next time you go in for an impulse buy, that impulse might not seem quite as strong. After all, is it helping you to create the moments of your day – and of your life – that you want to cherish? That really matter to you?

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  1. Dee says:

    Trent, I’ve been reading your blog for about a month now and this is my first post. I just wanted to say thank you for your advice about money, life and all the things that really matter. You lead and inspire by example and it has really spoken to me. Thank you

  2. Walt says:

    If anyone wants to do this online, there’s an awesome new website that caters to just that…briefly jotting down what you did today (or just write the one best part) http://www.memiary.com

  3. Scordo.com says:

    Trent, I agree with your wife on the importance of keeping your family and spouse on the top of her “best moment of the day” list.

    My wife is also a teacher and she enjoys every bit of it (though there are days she wouldn’t put teaching on the top of her list!) Teaching is a very demanding job and I admire my wife for doing well for over 10 years.

    On the family note, I’ve recently spent some time thinking about my parents and some of their habits as they relate to personal finance and material things and, as immigrants, they can teach us lots about living a practical life:



  4. mare says:

    My partner is a prolific blogger and has spent hours designing, coding and perfecting his blog and mine. Problem is, I don’t blog. But this, this I can do. And maybe some of those highlights will lead to a blog post but if they don’t I’ll still have gained. Thanks for this!

  5. Asav Patel says:

    Really True….Trent….. The best mvements of our life are not the ones when we had bought our new car or new laptops…… But the best things of our lives are those daily small things which we never forget…… Unfortunately, so many people think that more they spend, the more they will be happy….. But its not true……

  6. phefland says:

    I love these simple and yet profound ideas – Am writing a journal myself, and seems like a great idea to add just a little sentence of the best moment of the day.

  7. Moneyblogga says:

    This is a good experiment but I already know what’s important to me in life and you’ve already said it – the love of one’s family. We all need something that’s bigger than ourselves and, for me, this is it.

  8. jane says:

    This would be a wonderful thing to do with my students to slowly teach them about themselves and what makes them happy. I suspect in the beginning it would be about getting that toy or buying a snack at recess, but as time progresses they would become better at assessing what really was the best part of their day. I think this may be more powerful with children than a gratitude journal.

  9. !wanda says:

    I wonder if, for certain people, these “consider the best thing” in life strategies backfire. I know some people who are just really, really psyched by buying bargains.

  10. Wendy Johnson says:

    I think I will start trying this with my kids. Every evening as they lay in bed we each say what we are most grateful for that day. In addition to that, I think asking them what was the best moment of their day would be such a good practice. I could learn more about what is truly important to them.

    As a parent of very young kids (5, 3, 7 months), this would be so helpful for me to do daily. It is so easy to get caught up in the mundane, boring, or stressful aspect of parenting. It would be good to stop each day and focus on the really good stuff.

  11. Steph says:

    I think I may start doing this just to boost my optimism. I’m a teacher as well and get emotionally bogged down by all the little things. I think it would really help me if I wrote down and reminded myself of the good moments and why I teach.

  12. I personally that believe best moments in life are just simple things like: spending time with friends and family, being in good health, appreciating our days on earth, and so on. However, I am sure for some people best moments can be very different like: buying that expensive HD Plasma TV, $150 dinner at a restaurant, $5000 vacation, filling bank accounts with more million dollars without giving a cant to the charity, and so on.
    A Dawn Journal

  13. liv says:

    Oh man, I’m terrible at keeping a journal. I’ve tried 5 times and stopped after 3 weeks. Anyways, lately, the best moments of my day usually involve seeing my little nephew :) He’s so cute and I get to see him on a daily basis!

  14. I’ve kept a journal on and off over the years and the one thing I love doing it re-reading old entries. Your wife’s way of writing in hers sounds like a good way of remember the best thing and not writing about everything … some of my old entries were pages long.

    I might give it another go using your suggestion, it sounds pretty good.

  15. IFMom says:

    The best moment in my life this week was a “purchase”…of two cats from the local SPCA.
    They will bring joy and love to our home for many years!

  16. Marv says:

    I think this is simple and useful. I think I might couple it with the worst part. Then you can track things that you might want to cut out of your life if possible.

  17. Ed K says:

    There is a related English proverb: “Mark this day with a white stone.” The proverb encourages the summation of an entire day into one descriptor, a possible ‘best moment’; the proverb is mentioned frequently in literature (including Cervantes in Spanish), in the journals of Lewis Carroll, and in the more recent novels of Patrick O’Brian.

    Possible background of the proverb, a pre-literate ‘best moment’ or (new to me) worst moment, follows from a recent blog post of Michael Gilleland at: http://laudatortemporisacti.blogspot.com/2008_10_01_archive.html

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Teach Us to Number Our Days
    There is a Greek expression λευκὴ ἡμέρα (leukē hēmera = white day), which the Suda (Λ 323 Adler, tr. Timothy Pepper) explains as follows:

    The good [kind]. From the proverb speaking “of the things for a quiver”. For Phylarchus says that the Scythians, when they were about to lie down to sleep, brought the quiver, and if they happened to have passed that day unharmed, they placed a white pebble on the quiver, but if [things had gone] troublesomely, [they placed] a black one. Accordingly, in the case of men who were dying, they brought out their quivers and counted the pebbles; and if many white ones were found, they declared the departed fortunate. Whence the proverb.

    Λευκὴ ἡμέρα: ἡ ἀγαθή. ἀπὸ τῆς παροιμίας τῆς λεγούσης τῶν εἰς φαρέτραν. Φύλαρχος γάρ φησι τοὺς Σκύθας μέλλοντας καθεύδειν ἄγειν τὴν φαρέτραν, καὶ εἰ μὲν ἀλύπως τύχοιεν τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείνην διαγαγόντες, καθιέναι εἰς τὴν φαρέτραν ψῆφον λευκήν, εἰ δὲ ὀχληρῶς, μέλαιναν. ἐπὶ τοίνυν τῶν ἀποθνησκόντων ἐκφέρειν τὰς φαρέτρας καὶ ἀριθμεῖν τὰς ψήφους: καὶ εἰ εὑρεθείησαν πολλαὶ λευκαί, εὐδαιμονίζειν τὸν ἀπογενόμενον. ὅθεν ἡ παροιμία.

    Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7.131 (tr. John Bostock and H.T. Riley), is similar, substituting Thracians for Scythians and urns for quivers:

    Mortals, vain as they are, and ingenious in deceiving themselves, calculate in the same way as the Thracians, who, according to their experience of each day, deposit in an urn a black or a white pebble: at the close of their life, these pebbles are separated, and from the relative number of each kind, they form their conclusions.

    vana mortalitas et ad circumscribendam se ipsam ingeniosa conputat more Thraciae gentis, quae calculos colore distinctos pro experimento cuiusque diei in urnam condit ac supremo die separatos dinumerat atque ita de quoque pronuntiat.

  18. Chris @ BuildMyBudget says:

    My wife has always done something similar, asking me what I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I like it because on days where I have work and school, it forces me to think about something good. I wish I could keep a journal, but there is just no time!

  19. Ethan Bloch says:

    I think this is a fascinating idea. It’s almost like a way to lifehack journal entries. You don’t need to get bogged down with the tons of detail, you just keep it short and sweet and cover the best moment of your day. Some may also want to add the worst moment of their day, so one can go back and learn from them.

    Thanks for sharing.



  20. Kevin says:

    So simple, yet such a good idea. I’m going to start doing this before I go to bed each day.

    Today’s entry would have to be putting up the Christmas tree with my wife and son.

  21. s says:

    Thanks for the idea!!

  22. nebula61 says:

    This is a great idea! Your wife sounds like a very wise person. Sort of like keeping tract of the “greatest hits” of our lives!

    One note though, the reason all the greatest moments come from the same activities is probably more due to that fact that she spends the most time doing those things, not necessarily because they are the only things that would give her a “best moment.” The law of averages…

  23. Karen says:

    Wonderful idea! What a gift to yourself and your loved ones when your able to look back and remember so many of the good times.

  24. sylrayj says:

    I’ve had some wonderful good points of the day that did tie back to purchases. Yarn does it for me. I love the feel, the colours, the way it moves as I knit, the patterning, the drape of the fabric, wearing the item afterward or giving it to another. I need to spend more time enjoying my yarns. I do have to buy it, usually – but it can be affordable (I loved finding some lovely stuff for a dollar a ball) and I get a lot of ‘yardage’ out of it. ;)

  25. Egirl says:

    Excellent post, Trent. I’ve decided to make a daily entry in my Outlook calendar that captures the best moment of each day. Today I also added some notes about the things I’m glad I accomplished over the weekend. My family is on a “one year without TV” experiment and I was very happy to find some episodes of my favorite PBS mystery series at the public library. I rewarded myself with a relaxing evening catching up on the show!

  26. Debbie says:

    Good point and great post. Material things rarely give us the true quality of life and it is good to have a reminder of that.

  27. kz says:

    I used to do this back when I was actively struggling with depression – at the end of the day, I forced myself to come up with three things I was grateful for or that made me happy, no matter how small. They really helped me gain some perspective. I should start doing that again – thanks for the reminder.

  28. McKenna says:

    Ever since Thanksgiving, we’ve spent a few minutes each night sharing the best (and worst) moments of our days. Our 2-year-old and 4-year-old daughters love it! Our girls are so into this idea that they rush through the bedtime routine so we can get to the “good part” where we share our thoughts.

    The kids come up with some really great stuff during these conversations, and it’s nice to see what they’re thinking about each day. Like you, our memories are almost never about money or material things, but about time spent together, fun activities or special events. We end the night by saying what we are thankful for. It’s a great way to end the day with our kids.

  29. Nate says:

    I do this as well trent. I forget some nights, but I remember most of the time.

    I found it hard to keep a journal of thoughts and reflections, but it’s very simple to just put down the best part of your day.


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