I believe that life is designed to get better every day. I mean if grapes can age with grace, why the heck can’t we? Admittedly, life is more complex than wine. But if you have a formula to make each day the best day of your life, and if you have the will, nothing can stop you.
But most people can’t tell you what makes a good day so good. The stars align by fate, so it seems, and the formula remains a mystery. So, you have an incredible day. Then you spend the next week grieving over your lost groove.
My amazing days used to drive me crazy for that reason. So, I wondered...if I was high on gratitude and joy all day yesterday, what exactly was stopping me from doing it again the day after?
So, I started taking notes on all of my days. And I began to see a pattern in the best ones:
Purpose, gratitude, meditation, fun, and flow.
These elements leaped off the pages of my journal and became too obvious to ignore. So, I planned for them. And when I executed the plan, I wound up having more best-days-ever (BDE) than not. Sticking with my formula, I’m currently on a two-week best-day streak. Not too shabby, right?
The natural result of having more great days is that I have better weeks, months, and years. I’ve overcome a clinical case of depression with this formula. I’ve created independence through the writing and coaching career I love so much. And I get to share the joy and inspiration I’ve discovered with everyone I meet, including you.
If you’re looking to make every day the best day of your life, adopt this five-step routine:
1. Chase your purpose.
Figure out exactly what it is that you want to accomplish today. What do you need to do be happy, fit, and successful? Spend 5 to 10 minutes writing down the goals you want to accomplish today, then visualize what it feels like to have done your absolute best by the end of the day. Once you have the end result in mind, and once you get your attitude right, you’ll naturally follow through with a best day ever.
Before I adopted this part of the routine, there was a 99 percent chance that I wouldn’t do anything meaningful in a day. I just didn’t have a plan. But when I started writing down the things that would make me feel good, I always did them. Those self-directed accomplishments gave me purpose.
2. Find gratitude early on.
Gratitude might be the defining trait of my best days. When I find gratitude early on, I’m a thousand times likelier to find gratitude in the rest of my day—in the challenges, in the mundane, in my good fortune—in the people I’m blessed to have around. In life.
Sometimes I wake up feeling everything but gratitude: fear, despair, anxiety. But when I force myself to relive the experiences that made me grateful, I shift out of the negative and into my best day ever. Gratitude is my best-day gear.
So, before you get out of bed, spend five minutes thinking about and feeling gratitude for the amazing people and things in your life. The experiences to be grateful for are there in abundance, but it’s up to you to make them your focus. And when that focus becomes your habit, nothing can stop you from having your best day ever.
Anxiety, fear, impatience, ingratitude—these are the emotions that ruin a day. But you can control them if you practice mindfulness.
In my hunt for the best day ever, I found that if I forgot to meditate for 10 to 20 minutes in the afternoon, I’d lose my momentum and fizzle out into distraction and negativity. I wouldn’t want to be still. And I’d have a tendency to unconsciously feed those emotions that kill the golden glow of a BDE.
That’s why I’ve made midday meditation my standard. It gives me time to choose the thoughts that help me finish strong, and to identify the sources of negative emotions: like a project I’ve been putting off, or a negative inner dialogue that I’ve been ignoring, or a bad habit that I’ve indulged.
If you take 10 to 20 minutes every afternoon (around 2 p.m.), you’ll dramatically increase your chances of having the best day of your life.
4. Have fun!
Best days ever aren’t exactly synonymous with best effort. You can schedule your day down to the minute; you can accomplish everything you’ve set out to; you can work for 14 hours. But if you aren’t having fun, you won’t be inspired to repeat the ass-kicking tomorrow. Fun makes success sustainable. It adds to the golden glow of a best day ever. Schedule it.
I’m writing this article in between games of beach volleyball. And when I reflect on my day at the end, I know that all of these smashes and digs will be key features in my mental montage before bed. And I’ll think, today was the effing best. (Editing this article a day later, I can confirm the BDE feeling from last night.)
5. Get into a flow state.
Flow is the undistracted state in which you wouldn’t want to be doing anything other than what you’re doing. When I’m in flow, I’m completely engaged in the activity at hand; all of my focus is zeroed in on progress, learning, or play. And if I spend more than half of my day in flow, I’m guaranteed to have the best day of my life no matter what.
To enter flow, you need all four categories mentioned: purpose, gratitude, meditation, and fun. But even if you check off those boxes, you won’t find flow if you’re distracted.
Because of Facebook, texts, and emails, some of my best days ever never were. Even though it felt good to check the notifications, I knew I could’ve been more focused on doing what I loved and on being present. The more time I spend on distractions like Facebook, the less time I spend in flow, and the more unsatisfied I am at the end of the day.
That’s why I’ve chosen to eliminate most of my distractions. I’m in the middle of a monthlong Facebook fast as we speak. (I check FB once a month.) And my one-email-and-one-text-per-day rule has given me my life back with all the focus I have.
So if you want more flow in your day, you gotta nix the distractions. Which ones will you sacrifice in order to have the best day of your life today?
I’m convinced that if more of us made every day the best day of their lives, the biggest problems in this world would disappear. Bad romance wouldn’t exist because people would fall in love with their own lives. No one would need to escape life through drugs or alcohol. And the main causes of violence and crime—stress, feeling powerless, etc.—would evaporate.
But for that kind of sweeping change to happen, we’d need millions of people to commit every day to being the best day of their lives. Start with the best-day-ever steps mentioned in this article—purpose, gratitude, meditation, fun, and flow. What are you waiting for?
Want more insights on how to level up your life? Check out your July horoscope, then find out why holding on to past relationships is the worst thing you can do for yourself.
Daniel Dowling is a freelance journalist and copywriter based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His writing focuses on personal development and has been featured in Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and FitBit. He studied sociology and anthropology at New Mexico State University.