One thing about our world: There are more ways to receive advice than ever before. A century ago, the main directions you’d get for living might come from your mom, teacher, spiritual leader, and a few well-selected books. Today, we have countless blogs, websites, and yes, even magazines advising us to do all sorts of things — many of them contradictory.
Picking the best approach to life can get confusing when so many pundits make their cases so strongly. Business mavens will tell you to go the extra mile, act with gusto, stand out and brand yourself, and never let up. Yoga types will tell you to slow down, savor the moment, smell the roses, and just let go. It can be hard to decide who has your best interests at heart, or even who knows best! But no matter which advice presents itself, each of us ultimately has to wend her own way through the world.
So here’s a confession: My title, “6 Surefire Ways to Make Your Day Count” is just a title. These are the things I do to feel I’ve lived my day, not just walked through it, and they work for me. Because you’re amazingly unique, only you know which “surefire” pick-ups work for you. You can adapt this list until it fits. Take what resonates and leave the rest.
A friendly voice in your ear can really help when you feel lonely. When you listen to someone speak, breathe, and even think into the receiver you experience their reactions much more intimately than you do face-to-face. The voice-to-ear connection provides a focused sensation you won’t get elsewhere. Sensitivity to nuance is heightened and you connect in a way that doesn’t happen when the interface is visual (text, email, etc.). Also, older people really appreciate hearing from you via phone, so call your grandma or uncle right now!
Knowing you’ve sparked joy in someone else will help you go to sleep fulfilled. Join a volunteer group or create something handmade for somebody who needs love and hope. The more positive energy you pour into your creation, the more that energy bubbles up in you and the better you will feel!
Shaking it up is a great way to get energized and have a laugh at the same time. If you usually paint, turn on YouTube and test out a beginner belly dance video. If you’re a jewelry-maker, take a week to go plumb stamping-crazy. Keep in mind the adage, “The best surfer is the one who has the most fun,” and apply it to your new experience! Get silly and giggly and switch into discovery mode while leaving your comfort zone. Reward yourself for every botch-up and enjoy the process!
This can be as easy as uploading a beautiful photo of a flower to your Instagram or as challenging as you desire. Think back to your favorite artistic experiences and see what suits you. Do you love to collaborate? Make a date to create with a crafty friend or join an artistic community online. Prefer to work alone? Think of something you can only create by yourself … and go for it!
Often, workplaces and other settings are not designed to celebrate each person’s special strengths. So time spent working may not give you the warm, glowy feeling that comes from letting your light shine. We can even forget there is anything that makes us special. So when you wake up, ask yourself, “How can I exercise my core talents today?” If you’re still half-asleep, terrific! Let the answer surprise you and write it down before you forget it. Then work on incorporating the answer into some piece of your day.
“Gratitude” has become a cultural buzzword, and we’re told it has lots of benefits, but it’s a hard thing to summon when you’re feeling low. A fun and easy way to improve your mood is to make a list of your blessings or accomplishments right before you go to bed. Decorate it with stamps, stickers, or smiley-faces and tuck it under your pillow. You’ll find at least one thing to feel good about. And if you focus on what you were able to give or contribute, instead of what you received, you’ll feel more powerful about your own ability to impact your day for the better.
Avra loves creating special days. While travel is a passion, she also believes much beauty can be found close to home. Learning how and where to look is, in itself, an adventure. Find more traces of Avra’s journeys at avrakouffman.com.
Olga Gerik is a photographer with a love for vintage cameras, wildflowers, and bicycle rides along the old airline trail in her hometown in Connecticut. Visit her online at olgagerik.com or on Instagram (@photolga_).