Imagine what your ideal typical day would look like. Not a holiday or a ‘best day of your life’ kind of day, rather, what would it look like if you could map your ideal typical day? A day that if you had to live it 365 days in a row would leave you feeling resourced and joyful.
Take a minute and map out this day.
When would you wake up? How would you wake up? What morning rituals do you value? What activities would you engage in? What people would you see? What foods would you eat? How would this food come to you?
I have, for the most part, always been self-employed and a member of the “gig” economy, meaning my days have been my own to choose how they take shape. For many years, this meant work when there was work, look for work, and rest when there wasn’t work. This method resulted in extended periods of 24/7 work followed by seemingly enviable playtime, and for about a decade this lifestyle served me.
Then I decided to live in a van with no defined ‘work’ other than to be an explorer of my nature and the nature of the world. My days were completely my own to do with as I saw fit. Turns out perpetual vacation is not so pleasurable, because the existential weight of this was overwhelming. In an effort to quell this anxiety, I made things ‘to do,’ such as drive to this destination, see that person, and visit this site; I set arbitrary goals to quell my angst, such as have coffee in every state.
‘Van Trip’ complete, I landed in a grounded place again and tried to go back to my old way of being – however, it no longer served me. I had hacked my life; my time was my own, I could work on my schedule from anywhere in the world. Yet, rather than experiencing the rush of relief I expected to feel, I was overwhelmed with angst (When would this hack be taken away from me? What am I doing with my life?) and anhedonia (I was unable to fully enjoy the amazing experiences I had the gift of having). For a brief time, I even considered getting a 9-5 and giving my existential angst over to a boss to hold for me. Then, I returned to what I knew – that was not my path.
I asked myself the same question I asked you earlier: What would an ideal typical day look like that would lead to a good year and a good life? I thought of all the elders I have sat with and every mentor in my life. I thought about what stuck out as important at the other end of a lifetime and what brings joy at every age. I drew inspiration from crones, women wise with time who were able to hold the polarities of human existence in a non-dualistic way. From this exploration, I designed a day aligned with being a crone-in-training.
In my ideal typical day, the morning would start slow and include reading and meditating and good coffee and a game of cribbage or something similar. My day would be split with creative pursuits as well as the ‘clicky clacky’ (emailing and other computer work) that is required in our modern world and which gives me a feeling of being in and part of the world. I would make sure to have some time for moving my body and make sure I ate wholesome, local, sustainable, and delicious foods whenever possible. My day would end with a community dinner and games or discussions. My spaces would delight my senses.
I wrote out my day on a big poster and hung it on my window. Each morning when I wake up on one side of my room, I see my pictures of my van trip and remember the amazing experiences I had (which, in all honesty, I enjoy in hindsight with a relish not felt in the moment). I then turn to the other wall and see my ‘ideal day’ schedule and know that I am learning how to have a good day with each day I practice. My partner calls this “Living everyday like it is your birthday.” My grandfather called it, “Every day is christmas.”
The truth is, my ideal typical day does not happen every day, but it does happen every day it can. When I wake up, no matter how much angst or melancholy are swirling around inside of me, I know they will lessen if I hold to my day. And when I have too many days where I stray away, I can feel the overwhelm and weight returning as a reminder to come back to my structure where I can blossom and give the best of me to the world.
Maybe your days are not yours fully to control, and maybe you do not want them to be. Each of us has time that is ours and choices we can make about the time that isn’t. Think about your ideal typical day. How can you bring aspects of it into your reality? What reminders in your physical space can you create to help you cultivate it?
Susan Bruketta says
Home Care Assistance of Albuquerque offers seniors the opportunity to age in place with their cherished memories by providing affordable, expert caregiving services incorporating; meal preparation, cleaning laundry, grocery shopping, assisting with mobility and providing transportation to medical checkups, grocery shopping, and socializing. We encourage seniors to maintain over all wellbeing by preparing a nutritious diet plan and a fitness routine to reach fineness goals and feel independent in golden years.
Kevin Kreafle says
Hello! I am an AGNG 320 student at the Erickson School of Aging. i really resonate with your story. Being self-employed was something i’ve always been working towards, and being able to travel and not have a standard 9-5 is a dream day for me. I feel that understanding what works for you and whats make you personally happy. Instead of trying to please other people (family, friends) personal happiness should be everyone’s number one goal.
This goes perfectly with the course i’m in because it shows that having a healthy lifestyle as an aging individual is important to lead a happy life and help benefit you as an older individual. I like how you touched on meditating because I think that’s important for everyone, including the aging individuals that i have been learning about in my class. It helps clear your brain and mind, and ensure that you have a clear approach to your days tasks and goals.
Finally, for me, i think it’s important to go out and explore. Find areas of the world you like, people you resonate with, and help you achieve your happiness and goals. Living in one area your entire life could work, but I think it limits the potential for so many greater things!!!
Kyrie Carpenter says
Kevin, Sounds like you are on the right track. Feel free to stay in touch as your journey continues.
Mel B. says
Hello Kyrié! I am an AGNG 320 student at the Erickson School of Aging. I strongly agree with the feelings conveyed in your entry. Feeling fulfilled can be complicated, but worthwhile to flesh out. Having high levels of control over one’s life and low demands alone does not happiness make. It is what we do with that freedom and control that matters most.
Many of the points you made echo those made in the course that I am in. Older adults can benefit from cultivating a healthier typical day in similar ways as you have. Eating well and including exercise as part of a typical day is of a tremendous benefit. Meditating has been shown to lower blood pressure as effectively as hypertension drugs as well as potentially decrease mortality in older adults. Regular meditation may also prevent grey matter loss in the brain, reducing cortical thinning, reduce depression, and improve sleep quality.
Another important aspect of overall happiness is frequent structured social interactions. Strong social bonds and a sense of community are integral parts to older adults’ health and happiness that can be cultivated from a variety of sources. Having proper social support can aid in fighting obesity as well as reduce mortality.
I don’t have a vision of an ideal day, all I need is to be healthy and surrounded by my family.