It doesn’t matter whether you’re retired or still working, you still have to get through every day and face tomorrow. The simple fact is this: if those days feel good to you, you’ll have a better life than if they don’t.
Fortunately, behavioral scientists have gained an in-depth understanding of what makes us feel good about how we spend our days. It’s not rocket science. It’s actually pretty simple.
Here are some straightforward guidelines on how to make every day feel better, so you can look back on what you’ve done and look forward to what’s on tap with a light heart and a hopeful attitude:
Spend Your Time on What Matters
Whether you’re working or playing, solving the problems of the world or waiting for the next thing to happen, you’ll feel better about yourself when you spend your time on an activity that means something to you.
This is more difficult than it sounds. It’s easy to get distracted by the events going on around you. But when they’re over, you eventually come back to a drab feeling of being bored or – even worse – useless. With a little thought and preparation, however, you can always make your basic choice to work on a task, project, or goal you care about.
One of the simplest tricks is to carry some aspect of a task, project, or goal you can whip out at a moment’s notice to convert some of the idle time you inevitably encounter into more purposeful, productive time. You can also take more elaborate steps, such as dividing your important goals into “five-minute tasks,” and then carry any needed materials for a few of them with you.
Spending your time on whatever matters the most to you is a guaranteed way to feel good about each day’s activities.
Don’t Overload Yourself or Stress Out
Pressure to do too much, and the resulting stress this dense scheduling always brings, is an unbearable load for anyone, particularly when it goes on for too many days in a row.
That’s why you can feel better about your days when you make sure to keep your load of responsibilities and intended accomplishments within reason.
How do you know how much to load up your schedule? Easy. Now and then during the day, just take a minute to assess how you’re feeling. If you’re too busy to take this minute, or if you’re consistently feeling very stressed when you do, you need to lighten your load. (As a productive, successful person, it’s unlikely you’ll set up many days with too light a load!)
Focus on the Rewards
Thinking back to the usual “glass half full or half empty” analysis, recognize that the same kind of dynamic applies to your motivations and goal orientations: When you’re thinking about what you might lose if you don’t accomplish your goals, you’re on the negative side of the ledger and you’re unlikely to feel good about your days, no matter how many dragons you slay or bear traps you avoid.
On the other hand, when you’re thinking about the rewards you’re striving for and the positive results you’re attempting to produce, you’re automatically priming your emotions to feel good about everything you accomplish – even if there’s more for you to do tomorrow.
Include Some Physical Exercise
This is another simple and well-understood dynamic: movement feels good. Even a few minutes of exercise will take you out of your funk and give you a new, more upbeat perspective on your work and your life.
You’ll feel better when you organize your days to include at least some physical activity – even a short walk will help. In fact, brief physical activity is a great way to turn your feelings toward the upside and help you overcome problems or difficulties that initially seem insurmountable.
Do What Makes You Feel Good
This an obvious no brainer: days filled with onerous tasks, projects, and goals that you dread having to face will always feel worse than days filled with pleasant and interesting ones, no matter how challenging they may be. In fact, for some of us, the challenges make our days even sweeter!
Add in Some Enjoyment
It’s helpful to continue the pattern of doing what feels good by scheduling time for out-and-out pleasures. Mixing in some fun with your responsibilities and your work load will help you feel much better about each day’s efforts, and also prime the pump for you to feel better about whatever’s on your schedule for tomorrow.
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