Ten Building Blocks of a Great Day

You know it was a good day if you didn’t hit or bite anyone.

Nathaniel Parizek, age 4
Isn’t that the truth? And while we’re at it, here are a few more suggestions.

1. Eat well.

This one is foundational to the rest. Eating three healthy meals a day, with the emphasis on whole grains, wild caught fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables keeps my blood sugar at a consistent level and provides me with both sufficient energy to get through long, busy days and good nutrition to ward off illness and disease.

2. Exercise


I love running except when I’m doing it, the t-shirt says, and that pretty well sums it up for me. But the simple truth is that when I do something physical every day, I feel better. Sometimes when I think I think I am too tired to exercise I do it anyway, and I am usually rewarded with a burst of energy. A couple of days a week, I work out with a Body Bar and a video; the rest of the time, I hit the elliptical machine at the Fitness 19 or go for a run in my neighborhood. I don’t have six-pack abs and I jiggle in places I wish I didn’t, but my BMI, my cholesterol and my blood pressure are all within the normal range and I can actually run a 5K without stopping. 

3. Connect with a friend.

Whether it’s writing a letter, making a phone call, sending an message on Facebook, or actually meeting for coffee or lunch, spending time with a cherished pal gives me an emotional lift that lasts for weeks.
4.  Do your job and do it well.

I am a piano teacher; as such, I have an important responsibility to the young people with whose music education I am entrusted. My job is not only to instruct, but also to motivate and inspire. No matter what else is going on in my personal life, no matter how scattered and distracted I might feel, I do my best to put that all aside and provide every student who walks into my studio with a joyful and creative musical experience and to coax a smile, however fleeting, from the most reluctant of participants. Sharing my love of music with my students, keeping their sparks ignited, brings me joy like nothing else.

5. Take a step towards your dream.
I aspire to be a traditionally published novelist. Although my daily goal is to add 500 words a day to my manuscript, even a paragraph is progress in the right direction. 
6. Bring a sweater.

I am cold by nature. In the winter, I shiver for obvious reasons, but even in the summertime I find that many establishments–restaurants, movie theaters, the grocery store–keep their thermostats set at much lower temperatures than I keep the one at my house. Simple solution? I keep a sweater or a fleece jacket in my car so I can grab it if I need it.

7. Work with your hands.

Doing something creative every day, whether it’s beading a pair of earrings, knitting a few rows of a scarf, or putting together a scrapbook page gives me something concrete to show for my time on a daily basis. It also inspires me in other endeavors, like blogging and fiction writing.

8. Treat yourself to something special.
I have a beautiful crystal dish that I keep stocked with beautifully wrapped dark chocolate candies. I reward myself with two every day: one after I have met my daily word count goal, and one after I exercise. If I have missed one of these for some reason – I rarely miss both – I might treat myself to one more goody at bedtime, as a reward for simply making it through another day.

9. Give thanks.

Last thing before I turn out the light every night, I pull out my gratitude journal and make note of three to five things I am thankful for. It’s easy. Less than five minutes and I am in a satisfied state of mind conducive to sleep.

10. Get sufficient rest.

This is the hardest one for me. My teaching day doesn’t wrap until until eight or nine at night; by the time I make dinner, clean up, and crawl into bed, it’s getting late.  My body feels it, but my brain is still fully charged. I am trying to develop a soothing nighttime routine to ease that transition from wakefulness to sleep and get a solid seven or eight hours of shut-eye every night.

Your list is probably different from mine. What does a day well spent look like to you?