What does the best day of your real life look like? I’m not talking about your wedding day or the day your child was born; those are perhaps the most meaningful days or the best days of your lifetime. I’m talking about the best everyday day that you have experienced or could imagine.
For me, it happened a few weekends ago. We woke up on a Saturday morning and had a nice breakfast together as a family. Waffles. Then we headed off to the soccer field for my son’s game; me in the car with the kids and my husband on foot getting his jogging time in. We lounged on the field, enjoying the early fall weather and talking to other parents as we watched my son run his little heart out on the field.
When the game ended, the whole family took a nature trail through the woods back to our house. We didn’t rush our toddler. We let her enjoy learning to walk over roots and rocks while our son ran ahead to climb on benches and bigger rocks. As we neared the end of the trail my husband offered to take my bag so I could turn back and retrace our steps, enjoying my quiet movement time and picking up our car where we left it at the field.
We came home and had lunch together then packed my son into a friend’s car to go for a hike and tucked our two-year old into bed for her nap. My husband headed out on an errand and I headed to the garden. For almost an hour I quietly harvested, paying mindful attention to each tomato or squash plant and every once in a while stopping to stare at the mountains in the distance. It was cool, sunny, and quiet save for the occasional bleat of a sheep from the nearby barn.
When my husband returned and my daughter woke up from her nap, we continued to harvest together, laughing and celebrating each time we found a big wonderful vegetable.
At one moment, I stood there in the garden and found myself thinking, “There is literally no other place I want to be right now and no other thing I want to be doing. This is the best day ever.”
When is the last time you felt like that? Has it happened to you recently? Have you found yourself enjoying the present moment so much that you were actually able to be fully there, in the present, rather than thinking about all of the other things you could or should be doing? What was it about that moment or that day that allowed you to bring your full self?
For me, it was the combination of care for self and care for others; the time spent in nature; the physical engagement of my body; the productivity of the garden; the peaceful time with family that was not rushed or full of conflict; and the cool breeze of impending fall.
Some of those things cannot always be replicated – if I could bottle up impending fall weather and let a little bit out every day for the rest of my life I would do it – but some day s will be rainy and some days will be unpleasantly hot. My garden will not always be in full bloom.
Other parts of that day – the parts that we intentionally created and made space for – those things can be replicated. When I distill it down to the conceptual characteristics of that day – physical engagement, productivity, self-care, peaceful engagement with my family and with nature, and mindful attention to what I am experiencing – I can begin to see how to infuse those things into my life more regularly.
I have been carrying that day with me and recreating it in parts of every day since; in doing so I have rediscovered the value of mindfulness as a daily practice. By refocusing my attention on the happiness that is right in front of me, instead of being distracted by a million other thoughts, I feel like I have brought my best self to my life this week. Not every day has been perfect, but there have been more moments than usual of the comfortable peace that comes with being present in one’s own life.
So the next time you are having a pretty great day, stop for a moment to take a purposeful pause. What about this day or this moment is helping you to feel more present, more at peace, or simply happier? How can you replicate that experience on any other given day?
There is no reason why we can’t make every day of our lives a little bit closer to the best day of our life.