A good day.
As I work on creating daily rituals, I am also thinking about the larger framework of my days. This is thanks in part to this episode on the podcast On Being. In it, guest Atul Gawande talks about the importance of knowing what makes a good day. A physician, he speaks to the way he uses his patient’s model of a good day to decide what treatments they need to proceed with. If something is going to dramatically compromise the good day that gives them greater access to wellbeing, then maybe it isn’t worth it.
In the same episode, Krista Tippett reflects on this idea of wellbeing: “Wellbeing is about the reasons one wishes to be alive.” On a daily basis; in the sometimes monotonous or mundane elements of our lives. What was curious about the examples that Gawande shared was that most of his patients and even random people he spoke to about what makes a good day had simple requests. A meal shared with family and friends. Enough time to read a good book. Their ideas weren’t fancy and they were often things that were already available to them.
I appreciate this conversation all the more as I build out my coaching business and creative writing practice. Because work is an inevitable part of most of our lives and we do it a lot, so we might as well have more good days than not. This exact thought that has motivated so many of my professional choices over the years. From teaching yoga when I was a student and had people telling me that sometimes you just need whatever job to get by to now as I help creatives access financial wellbeing so they can do their best work.
Gawande and Tippett’s conversation helped me to see that I put great care and effort into how I spend my workdays. When I accidentally stumbled into freelance writing three-ish years ago, one of the appeals of this professional trajectory was that I could create a schedule that works for me. What’s more, with the variability of work and income in the gig economy, I made an agreement with myself at the beginning of this process that I get to spend my days in a way that feels good for me. Even if the money isn’t there, I still get to be happy.
Now, I am reevaluating what makes a good day. I am paying close attention to the details and letting the bad days teach me what I need to cut out if possible. It’s been an illuminating experience. For one thing, I am starting to spend less time on social media simply because it doesn’t feel good to go down the digital rabbit hole regularly. I am squeezing in more time to read after months of struggling to get into a book. I am focusing on only what’s important in my work and communicating shifts in priorities when necessary.
Just like the folx Gawande spoke to, my good days are pretty simple. I have time to write my Morning Pages and daily blog post. I eat well and exercise. I do work that is meaningful to me. I connect to my creative community. I go for a walk in the middle of my day. I have a bath in the evening and get to bed at a reasonable time. Of course, my days are augmented by technology and privilege. And it feels like I have access to enough to have a good day and to help other people access the same.
So, what do you need to have a good day most days of the week?