How to Make Every Day Matter

“Oh! It’s today. My favorite day,” Winnie the Pooh once said.

29,200 days. That’s how many days we’ll get if we’re lucky enough to live to 80.

I think about that a lot, not to be morbid or frighten myself, but to remind myself of the importance of each day I get to be alive. The knowledge of 29,200 doesn’t keep me from occasionally watching too much Netflix or perusing eBay, but it does wake me up to the profundity of a single day, and evoke a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to experience another day of life.

So too, reminding myself of the day count of a human life encourages me to pay attention to this moment, treat this day like it matters, and live this day, the only day I’m certain I’ll get—to the fullest.

So the question then begs, what does it mean to live a day to the fullest to make it matter?’ It’s a question I think all of us should ask ourselves. It may be the most important question we can ask, because it forces us to consider what really matters—what makes a day or a life of days feel meaningful.

The message we often receive in our society is that living each day to the fullest means packing the day full with activities and accomplishments. It means travel, adventure, taking chances, being productive, and of course, success. Our version of living fully usually has a lot to do with what we achieve and/or attain.

There’s nothing wrong with achieving and attaining, but getting, doing, and accomplishing may not be what a well-lived day includes for ourselves. How can we know what makes a day feel meaningful or fulfilling if we never ask ourselves, and never listen for our own answers?

We waste a lot of days just going through the motions of life, doing what we’re supposed to do but never stopping to contemplate the value of a single day. Sleepwalking, in a sense. We fall into the trap of accepting what our society and other people tell us we should do with our days, what we’re supposed to want, what’s supposed to matter. The problem is, it may not be what we want, may not matter to us.

For me, a day fully lived is not necessarily a day packed full with activities. It’s not about what I get, get done, or accomplish. It is, however, about the quality and presence of my attention, how I show up for the individual moments that make up this day. It matters to me that I show up present and with kindness.

What makes a day matter is not what the day contains in terms of its contents, but rather that the day contains me, that I am present, physically, mentally and emotionally, tuned into my senses, noticing what’s actually happening in my physical reality, and my inner and outer environment. To fully live, for me, is to be conscious and grateful for the profound gift and opportunity that this one day is.

Furthermore, contemplating the reality of 29,200 makes me more rigorous about not distracting myself with entertainment, information, technology, or any of the other endless choices we use to escape, ignore, or avoid the day.

It also means not engaging with the narratives and judgments my mind wants to write, not going down the rabbit hole of thinking, not distracting myself by thinking every thought that appears in my mind. 29,200 makes me far less tolerant for negative thinking or excessive rumination, far less willing to let my mind control my attention, take me off on this tangent or that, and thereby kidnap one of my 29,200 days.

As I see it, with only this many days to play with, why would I waste a single moment thinking about what I can’t control, makes me feel bad, has already happened, may never happen, doesn’t help me, or just plain isn’t true?

The finite-ness of our days is a what is not a what if. What does the reality of 29,200 days provoke in you? How does it change the way you choose to live today?

We can all benefit by taking our day count to heart, deeply considering what we want to do with and who we want to be today. Don’t take anyone else’s opinion on what makes a moment or a day or a life meaningful. Only you can answer this question for yourself and only you can create a life that fulfills it, one day at a time, one moment at a time.

Ask yourself, how do you want to show up for today, who do want to be, what is your life in service to, and what, ultimately, do you want? Start today, or even better, now.

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