I have a habit of analyzing everything. Call it a hobby, or a side effect of having a blog, constantly worrying that I might just run out of things to say some day. After all, how many different ways can I yell, "Be happy! Do what you want to do! Go to weird places! Wear wool clothing! "? My baseline day is pretty great, but on those occasions where my day just glistens with perfection, I analyze it and try to figure out why.
And although balance isn't a characteristic many people would attribute to my life, oddly enough, I've found that my best days have a balance of different elements to them. These elements may be unique to me, but they're so fundamental that I think they must be universal.
Getting Stuff Done
I've never been one to do homework, yet six months ago, talking to my Japanese teacher, I was horrified to hear myself ask for more homework. She obliged, of course. When I do most of my homework, she assigns me the same amount for the next week. When I finish it all, she gives me even more. I've been in a multi-week streak of finishing it all, so I'm now being assigned entire chapters of the workbook, covering topics I've never learned about.
This afternoon I blasted through the mountain of homework dumped on me, and it felt great. Even better, I have a sunny window, a pot of good tea, and a todo list the size of my forearm. Doing hard work and making progress isn't enough to have a perfect day, but it's a necessary counterpart to the more traditionally fun parts of el dia perfecto.
A caveat: the work has to be meaningful. It has to exercise your mind, not numb it.
"Social Expansion" is the nerdiest possible way of phrasing the least nerdy part of the perfect day, but I suppose that's what you can expect from someone who studied pickup for so long. I say social expansion, because socializing isn't enough-- it's meeting new people or taking relationships to the next level (turning acquaintances into friends, for example) that leaves your mind buzzing as you try to fall asleep at the end of the day.
This effect is so strong, that even as a clinical introvert earlier in my life, I'd be excited after having met new people, even though I raised every self-imposed barrier to meeting them that I possibly could. You can only really express yourself in the company of others, and there's no more interesting puzzle than an unknown mind, shaped through years of life completely different than your own.
Producing and socializing are bonanzas for the mind, but they leave your body sitting on the bench. That's not what the body is for, so the perfect day requires that you push your body a little bit. You don't have to lift weights for an hour-- just running around the block a few times is enough to indulge your body and feel the world under your feet and against your face. I often forget how important this is, but am easily reminded every time I climb something or start running for no reason.
When Tim Ferriss' new book, Four Hour Body, came out, I read it cover to cover and didn't really commit to implementing any of it. I didn't do the hard work of working out, but the idea of eating garbage once a week seemed appealing, so I began implementing that.
Eating the forbidden fruit (or, cake and pizza, more accurately) wasn't nearly as good as I expected. In fact, I'm not sure I'd even use the word "good" to describe it. Minutes of fleeting flavor-inspired fun were nearly forgotten by the time I went to bed. I didn't necessarily feel bad about eating empty food, but it didn't exactly invigorate me either.
On the other hand, I made a simple meal for myself yesterday. In one pot, I combined some red lentils, black quinoa, fresh rainbow chard and broccoli from the farmer's market, tempeh, and some spices. It was delicious, and left me with the lingering satisfaction that I'd done something good for myself.
These four elements have a sort of balance to them. Working exhausts the mind in a satisfying way, while expanding socially nourishes it. Physical activity exhausts the body in a satisfying way, while feeding yourself good food nourishes it. It's this balance, mind and body, exhaustion and replenishment, that creates a perfect day.
My challenge is this: try to have a perfect day tomorrow. Use all of the four elements, and let me know how your day was.
A funny ending to a half-finished post I stumbled across when looking for a post to put up today: "This post is pointless and basically just the manifestation of me being an idiot about this and not being able to immediately deal with it."
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