Recently, as part of a manifestation exercise at an event for women in business, someone asked me, “What would you do on the perfect day?” You’ve probably heard this question yourself at some point in your life.
It’s fun to think about, isn’t it? For me, it immediately conjures up images of a winning lottery ticket, being pampered at a world-class spa, and al fresco dining on the Amalfi coast. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Dreaming big is brain training - exercising our mind’s capacity to expand and be open to even the wildest of possibilities.
The problem with this question, however, lies in its glaring limitation. The limiting word?
I hereby propose a shift to this question. What if we framed it differently? What if instead, we asked “What are the ingredients for a perfect day?”
This is a lot less limiting and a lot more empowering...and here's why.
As I mentioned before, “do” is an action word. “Ingredients” can include actions and experiences, but they also encompass emotions or sensations. When we ask “what would you do on the perfect day,” the implication is that everything we’re striving for is external. That our happiness and success comes from doing, not being.
Look at the things that question conjured up for me. Lots of money? A spa day? Great food in an exotic locale? There’s no doubt those things sound amazing - but they’re all things. And the truth is: there is so much more that goes into deeply enjoying this experience we call life.
When I reframed this question and asked myself what ingredients would go into a perfect day instead, here’s what I came up with.
Would the aforementioned spa day and Italian feast include those elements? Sure.
But could I also achieve those elements without having to win the lottery or travel internationally?
You bet I could.
I could literally stay in my office all day long and achieve every single one of those feelings and experiences. In fact, I can think of lots of times when I have - which means I’m having some pretty amazing days, regardless of the fact that I can’t just hop on a plane to go bask in the Mediterranean sun for a few weeks.
Sure - we’d all love to get rich, travel the world, and be pampered, and there’s nothing wrong with dreaming about those things. But focusing on ingredients of the perfect day is a powerful way to help us live more intentionally, mindfully, and gratefully on the days when we’re not living out our wildest dreams.
HERE'S HOW TO USE THIS EXERCISE TO IMPROVE YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE:
1. Make your own list of Ingredients for a Perfect Day.
What would go on your list? Adventure? Calm? Excitement? Comfort? Meaning? Connection? Peace? Remember, try to focus on feelings or states of being, rather than actions or external circumstances.
2. Brainstorm ways to sneak these elements into your everyday life.
For example, if calm made your list, how could you find a way to bring some type of calm into each day, simply by making minor shifts? Could you burn aromatherapy candles for relaxation while you work? Take a bath instead of a shower in the evening? Listen to soft classical music while making dinner? Meditate for just three minutes each morning?
If you crave connection, could you fit in a ten-minute phone call to someone you care about every day? What about sending notes in the mail? This could even look something like being more honest and authentic on social media, rather than posting what you think everyone wants to see. All of these actions can breed a greater sense of connection.
If adventure is your jam, why not do one thing each day that scares you - even if it’s tiny? Could you devote some of your lunch break to planning your next big excursion? Could a jog around the neighborhood first thing in the morning give you a rush of adrenaline?
Get creative! If it helps introduce the desired emotion or sensation into your day, even if just for a moment or two, it counts!
By being mindful of the emotions and sensations we want to have more of in our lives, we can start to shape our actions around the ways in which we want to feel. And that, my friends, is intentional living! When I live intentionally, my entire life gets better - in a lot of small ways that add up to a very, very big difference.
This exercise can also help us focus on the things we have, rather than the things we don’t - always a more empowering choice! When we actively introduce these elements into our routines, we may find we’re living a whole lot of pretty perfect days, after all!
The key takeaway here?
Dream big for the future…but don’t forget to be here for the present while you do it.
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