“What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?”
Some of you may recognize this as one of “36 Questions That Lead to Love,” a popular and oft-cited article by Daniel Jones in the New York Times in 2015, based on Arthur Aron’s study published in 1997. I could never generate a plausible answer, thinking superficially. And every time I read the article, I think of Nigel Marsh’s description of his ideal day–see 4:50 of his 2011 TED Talk. Basically he spends quality time with family, works about 6 hours, hangs out with friends, exercises, and has sex four times.
Coming across the question again in You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy yesterday, I realized how close to perfect my day off was this week. Here’s how it went, with brackets inserted that would have made it truly ideal:
Wake up after 7 hours of sleep, in a fantastic mood, giddily looking forward to the day.
Move through morning routine easily, no rush or urgency.
Talk to Mei on the way to school, discussing her musings on anything that comes to mind.
Eat a light and tasty breakfast, sweet and salty, carb and protein, and coffee–oh yes, pour over coffee, nice and slow.
Consume a book and/or articles: on audio, digital, and/or print, romance and/or other, in the kitchen and car.
Ethos class! Challenged, educated, strengthened, and energized through coaching and community. I am now quoted on their social media:
Lunch with Dear Friend #1, communing over gorgeous salad, an Arnold Palmer, and shared ideals of leadership, friendship, and inner work.
[Find squishy armchair in a bookstore coffee shop, where I journal my reflections from lunch, reveling in the time and space to meet my friend and feed my soul.]
Browse bookstore, purchase artistic yet understated journal for Dear Friend #2, because everybody deserves pretty paper to write on.
Run into Dear Friend #3 on the way to meet DF2, reconnecting after many months and checking in–yay!
Walk and talk with DF2 [on wooded trails of Summit County–or] near Lake Michigan, stopping to photograph beauty that catches our eyes.
We discuss culture and relational leadership, exchange perspectives, and brainstorm ways to help systems and their people flourish.
[Find a shady bench, near spring blooms and urban wildlife, to sit and journal again, recording ideas, plans, aspirations, BHAGs.]
Pick up Mei from school, she’s energized more than stressed.
Pull fresh ingredients from fridge, audiobook or Agape music in the ears while chopping and stir frying.
Have a light and easy dinner, somebody else cleans up.
Mill around enjoying the house and its memories [it’s clean and neat, all plants watered and thriving].
Complete a relaxed night time routine, including pleasant smelling skin treatments.
More writing [and reading] in bed, all leftover words effused [and/or absorbed] for the day.
Lights out, burrowed in the covers, some intimate connection, sated in all 5 reciprocal domains of health.
Still high the next day and beyond, absolutely buoyed.
So what makes this day so perfect? What makes me so unreasonably and residually happy from it?
Communion with people I care about and who care about me
Alternating rhythm between activity and rest; among input, processing, and output
Nature, especially sunlight
Social, emotional, and intellectual connection, both intra- and inter-.
Would I want to live this day every day? I think not, even if it were possible… Although I could easily imagine repeating it a few times over a languid vacation.
When I cannot/will not get a whole day like this at a time, how can I incorporate something perfect into each day? This question excites me with potential. It wouldn’t take much of any/each of the ingredients above, in any combination, to make any day a little more ideal. Some advance planning, mindfulness, and real time gratitude could go a long, long way. By this time next year, regardless of what’s happening around me that I cannot control, my life in general—all days—could be a lot closer to perfect, even more excellent, than they already are.