I went to bed last night with the idea of starting my morning out differently than my norm. As I was nodding off to sleep, I planned to use small changes to create a perfect beginning in turn, setting up the perfect day.
Even while resting my head on the pillow the night before, I had this mental image of how my day would go.
So, when my alarm started up 15 minutes earlier than my norm, I knew I was ready to take control of this day and make it everything I envisioned.
My plan and why I woke up earlier was to surprise my kids and my wife with a fabulous breakfast, so I got everything ready, and when I went to the refrigerator to get out the eggs, I realized we didn’t have any eggs. No problem, I can throw an audible better than anybody. I’ll just get some orange juice ready, and they can just wake up to my plan B. I don’t like to give my kids cereal in the morning often, but they all seem to like it, so I’ll just set up a bunch of different cereal options on the table. I’m going to give the kids a continental style breakfast. Cereal, toast and jam.
After setting up a beautiful arrangement with fresh flowers from my garden in a lovely vase, I noticed we didn’t have any milk.
OK. Cereals are easy to put away and that just takes a minute. Pancakes it is!
Nobody noticed anything; it wasn’t them who planned on having this perfect day. It was me. So no harm, no foul, I’m still in the game. Things were moving smoothly.
My nine-year-old still took 15 minutes to get on his shoes. So, just like every day, we were late getting out of the door. On time for us, but the usual, four minutes behind. No biggie. I’m not going to let something small like being a few minutes behind ruin my day.
I got past that obstacle a few years ago.
It was obvious the traffic was going nowhere today. An accident must have happened in a construction zone, and our average 7 minute commute would take about 45 minutes today. Cars were back to back all the way to the horizon.
I adapted to breakfast, and I can adapt to driving conditions. A quick detour and a 2-mile roundabout got us all to school on time.
Despite my day not starting anything like I thought it would, it wasn’t moving poorly either.
When heading back to the house, I avoided the construction and traffic jam again. As I walked in the door, I noticed that their lunchboxes were still sitting on the floor by the front door.
OK. Now things are getting a little strained. Turning and walking back outside, I endured three bee stings. This is my fault as, a few years ago, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to have a beehive at my house. Four young kids and 20 pets, why not add a beehive?
If you are new to my articles please note, as my long-time followers do, that most of my learning lessons in life started as failures. This idea is one of them. Despite having a master plan for my day, I had forgotten that early this morning was when my friend was coming over to move the beehive. They weren’t happy. They let me know about it.
Now here’s the fun part.
Like usual, The universe tends to work itself out.
I had booked extra time off today. I wasn’t going to be a chiropractor until later, so I still had time to get the kids’ lunches to them.
I loaded up the lunches, pulled out a few stingers and headed out the door when one of my neighbors stopped me. She is a sophomore in high school, and her car wouldn’t start today. She asked if I had jumper cables.
Of course, I have jumper cables, the problem was I had lent them out a week before, and they hadn’t returned. So instead of jumping her car, I drove her to school. It was completely the opposite direction of where I needed to go to drop off my kid’s lunches, but, as stated, I had a few extra hours to burn today. I had envisioned working on my new book and getting some editing done, but that wasn’t apparently the plan.
After a pretty relaxing drive to high school, what I consider a practice run for next year when my son starts the big leagues. Then delivering the forgotten lunches to my kids at their schools, I realized, “Hey! Nice. The accident and construction had cleared up.”
The bee stings were starting to get a bit sore, but I remember watching a documentary one time about how, if you are not deathly allergic to bees, their stings can be pretty beneficial for the immune system. So, again, chalk it up as a win. I’m boosting my immune system. With nature!
I’m not going to tell you about my entire day, but I like to start my articles with a story. Suffice to say. Nothing, today, turned out the way I thought it would. I had new patients not showing up, seminars instead of lunch workouts. Honesty, as silly as it sounds, nearly Every. Single. Thing. I had previously “planned” the evening before…just…“wasn’t.”
But here’s the thing, earlier in the week, I was listening to a podcast about how we, especially Americans, have our brains mixed up with time. It’s because we feel like if we aren’t being ultra-productive and grinding that we are wasting time. My dad even mentioned to me last week that he hated the idea of “wasted time” while he was visiting.
“If you’re reading a book, watching a movie, or even watching your kid at a baseball game, you know you could be doing something more productive. People stuck in the grind see that as wasted time, which has a negative connotation. But it’s not. It’s entertainment time, fun time, shared time, relaxation. It is certainly Not wasted!”
That makes sense, A podcast with Dr. Chatterjee and author Oliver Burkeman of the bestselling “4000 Weeks” agree. Non-production is a time to reboot your body—a time for inflection or possibly even watching clouds and flowers. The brain, body, and soul all thrive with some of that reboot time. Most production specialists will even tell you that having this downtime, a sort of “off the grid” mentally, even boosts productivity when you do get a chance to work and solve problems.
I saw today as a little bit different, although maybe in a similar context.
We have three significant words as rules in my family.
Jealousy, Comparison and Sharing.
My kids hear this all the time. They know it as a concept of what we call “Pillars of life.”
Basically speaking: Jealousy and comparison ruin days and sharing is good.
So I thought about how my day had turned out, nothing at all like I wanted it to. But, I wasn’t late for work. Nobody was hurt. Other than me, nobody even had any idea that it wasn’t a perfect day.
The only stress that I felt was because I was comparing my day with my idea of what a perfect day should be.
It goes back to our three family rules. It wasn’t a ruined day. It was a comparison. Comparison always wrecks things.
The awareness of this gave me a different perspective. Also, two significant keywords that I constantly stress to my family.
My new perspective allowed me to see that I was having a decent day. I could go without bee stings however, I found a new route to school and was successful. My kids will get their lunch, and I got to be a dad.
I’m still going to get to work on time, and the world will continue even though I kick-started my day with no eggs.
I had an inspiration for a new article and I’m dictating this to my phone while driving to work today. Instead of listening to a podcast, I’m creating my own. Almost a “passive productivity.”
So I hope this article doesn’t come off as Clickbait. I know I gave you the switcheroo instead of teaching you how to have a perfect day.
My hope is that I planted this idea that it’s OK not to be perfect. In fact, the entire idea of perfect is a fallacy. It’s impossible. The entire notion and possibly even the word itself.
It would be a big stress reliever if it was just gone and probably billions of dollars saved worldwide on mental health, happiness coaching, stress management seminars etc., if we stopped, as a species, holding “Perfect” up as our parameter to meet.
I thought about this as I was dictating today on my commute. Even as a chiropractor, I realize that this is basically what everybody I have seen in over 20 years, as a patient, is looking for.
What is the perfect pillow?
What is the perfect pair of running shoes?
What is the best way to sleep?
What is the best stretch for…?
Stop searching. Find You. Test your own ideas out.
So do really want to have a perfect day? Or are you OK having a pretty good day?
I think if you can just acknowledge when things are going right despite them being different than what your initial plan was you’re going to see that much of our life runs exceptionally well. It’s what Matthew McConaughey terms “Green Lights” in his latest book. Acknowledge them. See them. Stop comparing what you have, are doing, or what the universe throws at you to what you hoped was going to happen.
I think like most of the other 8 billion people on this planet. You’ve got this.
You’re doing just fine.