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."
Sometimes it takes a full day just to be able to enact all four of these things, but it's always worth it!
Enjoyed your comments as well. I see life's balance as triune-always most satisfying when our mind is used (creatively/or whatever), body (worked out until tired) & spirit (we R relational beings-from human interactions to Joy w/R Creator)...the food part is great as I see this as part of a healthy body. Just sent U my first email & enjoying your site!
A thought-provoking post, to be sure; you make some great points! I love the section on Social Expansion - I find that a day spent in solitude is often relaxing, but not very gratifying. But as I apply your criteria to this particular day, I find that I have already accomplished all four; and this day has yet to glisten with perfection. So I wonder if a fifth component should be devoted to negative things that shouldn't happen? Like, for example... make sure you don't get in a useless fight with your mother. Or Make sure to bring your umbrella if it's supposed to rain. Just kidding. But I do think that negative experiences can really tarnish an otherwise great day that meets all four of your criteria. Thanks for your interesting words!
Wow this post seems awfully familiar to me, oh yeah, http://lifestyles365.com/?p=411.
:) Nice job Ty, I'm feeling the cooking and Japanese lessons!
Your photo of that yum looking mushroom and lentil curry and your comment about cooking got me thinking.. Can you share recipees of your vegetarian dishes? I'm vegetarian and would love some ideas on how to cook quick, nutritrious and tasty meals. thanks love your blog!
I love how you defined "Social Expansion". You hit the nail on the head with what makes certain social experiences special.
And my perfect day looks really similar to yours, except I would add:
*Creating Things - whether that be music, writing, or capturing a photo. A day without a little bit of creativity feels like it's missing something.
*Reading - even if it's only for 10 min. Something about reading a good book just nourishes my soul.
*Genuine Connection (probably a subset of Social Expansion) - whether it's with an old friend or the lady ringing up your groceries. Something amazing happens when you break through the outer shield and connect with the real person inside. This'll leave me grinning like an idiot all day.
Tynan, I agree with your points about a perfect day. Despite how cathartic a full day of rest can be, I don't feel satisfied unless I have pushed myself to be productive. It's when I push back the short term feedback (such as "this ice cream tastes good") and focus on a longer term plan (such as "running will do me good") that I feel satisfied.
The other evening I cooked up some of mum's good sheep sausage, sauteed some local mushrooms, a bit of onion and what is called an Anaheim pepper (They hardly ever have anything like this at the grocery and finding one was like finding a gold nugget). Quite tasty! Afterward had a romp with the lads then to bed for a good nights sleeping.
My grandfather grew up in a small apartment in Lawrence, Massachusetts with fourteen older brothers and sisters. His mother stayed at home to watch after the family, and his father worked in a dry goods store.
His parents came from Italy to Ellis Island with no money. He grew up poor.
When he was ten or so he began to work at the dry goods store as well. His job was mainly to run into the rat infested basement and get tins of spaghetti to bring upstairs. He was allowed to keep a portion of the money, but most of it went to his parents.
A few days ago, I wrote "24 Hours of Training Per Day" - my goal is to gradually build it so that all of my life is spent devoted to the things that are most important and valuable to me.
That doesn't mean having no fun, because fun is important. That doesn't mean no relaxing, because relaxing is important. That doesn't mean no socializing, because socializing is very important.
You know, I don't differentiate between work and play. I think my time is spent in either excellent, good, okay, or bad fashion. If too much of my time is just "okay" or "bad" - I'm doing something wrong.
Creating, enterprising, thinking and planning, and serious exercising and conditioning are all excellent time for me. Socializing, reading, doing maintenance, walking, research, relaxing, and daydreaming are all good. Okay is general-life type stuff or being semi-productive. Bad is submerging my mind entirely - this could be being stuck in a commute/transit without anything I find worth doing (doing business, socializing, listening to audio, or reading while commuting would move the category to excel, good, or okay) - and bad time is giving in to distraction against my will.
Again, that doesn't mean all work and no play. Consciously choosing to play games or socialize or relax isn't distraction, consciously choosing to watch a good movie or program and enjoy it isn't distraction. Giving in to low level crap is distraction. I've got a copy of Conrad's Heart of Darkness in my Kindle for PC reader - choosing and reading that isn't distraction. Researching a new investment (I bought HP stock a few days ago, I think the stock price is under the liquidation price of the assets + patents of the company... disclaimer: don't listen to me about investing because I don't know what the hell I'm talking about, do your own research, etc, etc.) isn't distraction. Surfing the net mindlessly, without choosing to do - distraction. Bad time.