“Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t…you aren’t.” ~Wayne Dyer
As you crawl into bed, thump your pillow to make the perfect little cave for your head to rest in, pull the covers up tight under your chin, and let go of that big sigh that indicates the day is finished, how do you look back on the waking hours you just experienced? How do you measure the quality of your day?
Measuring Your Day by What You Do
Most of us will measure our day by what we did. We will reflect back and count the things on the to-do list we were able to check off. More check marks are better.
When we look back at our accomplishments, we will see how well we did. It is a matter of how much praise you receive for your work, both self-provided or received from others. This will determine the quality of the day.
It is possible to compare the daily achievements of us with those who have walked the same hours. “Did I do more or better that Jim, John, or Mary?” No matter how much we goofed up, if Mary goofed up more, than we can sigh with relief and call it a good day as we close our eyes for the night.
The Not So Good Days of Doing
What happens, however, if you never got done what you wanted to get done or if what you did was simply more of the same old drudgery that fills most of your days? If you didn’t do what you had planned well or, heaven forbid, you screwed up royally and had others chastise you for it, chances are you are thumping your pillow a little harder than necessary.
Your ability to fall asleep may also be disturbed as you ruminate regretfully over all the things you did that you wish you didn’t. You may give Mary something to smile at tonight.
So is it safe to say you had a bad day when you didn’t do enough or do it well enough? That is only true if this is the way you measure your life quality. This was my experience for much of my life.
Learning the Hard Way
I have given the Marys of this world plenty to feel good about over the years. I have spent many nights abusing my pillow and tossing and turning as I reflected back on the dids and did nots of my waking hours. My days were filled with being a perfectionist, praise addict and competitive compare seeker.
I was compelled to set one goal after the other; to constantly add “just one more’’ thing to my mile long to-do list. It was what I thought I needed to do to feel fulfilled. And so I did, and I did until it was no longer possible.
I got sick. It forced me to stop doing so much and accept the fact of my current situation. Today, I am a recovering pathological doer.
We still judge the quality and value of our everyday experiences, our life by how we live it. We seldom determine the value of our life experience by how we are or on the beingness of it all.
Imagine what would happen if that was the case?
A Day Based on Being Rather Than Doing
What if you and I ignored the urge to check out the check marks on our to-do lists before getting into our PJ’s and brushing our teeth? Before we went to sleep, what if we stopped and took time out to reflect on the day. What if instead of focusing on our accomplishments and those we admire? What if we could change the quality of our days?
Since I started to look at my day differently, I can see a change in the quality of my daily life. Actually, I noticed a significant improvement in my quality of life when I stopped focusing on what really matters at the close to the end.
The Important Questions to Ask At the End of the Day
- How was your day? Are you truly satisfied with your day?
- Are you feeling calm and peaceful at different points in your day? You can earn a lot of points if you felt calm and peaceful at certain times during your day.
- You were kind and patient with Mary, even when her coffee dripped onto your stuff. Or did your car stall for the slower driver who made it fifteen minutes late to your appointment. You get even more points if you say yes. Your day score is getting better.
- Did you notice the beauty all around you and be mindful of it? Did you appreciate it? Do you remember saying a few prayers of gratitude? If so, better still.
- Have you ever sought stillness and silence for at least a few moments? Do you ever take the time to simply breathe?
- Do you offer support to others?
- Did you smile often Have you laughed? Do you remember moments of joy that were unexpected? These moments were you looking for them?
- Was it possible to love your job or the people you work with?
You are very welcome! It was a wonderful day!
Are There Opportunities for Improvement?
There may be some room for improvement, even if your list is complete and you are proud of it. Which of the following would you respond to?
- What was the best day of your life? What was your day like?
- Did you feel tense or irritable while doing the work?
- Are you feeling rage or impatience?
- Did you complain or criticize a great deal?
- Do you think that it was a conscious effort to be better or more than others?
- Was it unkind and unloving of anyone, or everything?
- Do you remember failing to reach out and help someone who was most in need of your assistance?
- Do you sometimes forget to appreciate the beauty in life around and within you?
Maybe it’s time to focus on improving your quality of life.
Take Heart: Tomorrow Will be Better
Don’t be too hard on yourself, though, for you are not alone. Sincere answers to these questions will come from many people. Many of us waste too many hours of our days getting caught up in the doing. I have a tendency to relapse into unhealthy behavior even after my healing.
The first step in healing is to recognize the problem. Good news! We can learn to live with the bad days. It is possible to start living life in peace and joy.
It takes only three steps to start the transformation.
Steps to improve the Quality of Tomorrow
- The first step is to be more conscious, before you drift off to sleep, about how you are living your life regardless of the things you get done or do not get done. Take today’s experience as an example. The hours just spent are an opportunity to learn, reflect and grow.
- The next step is the actual doing. Of course you will have to do something but prioritize the living component over the doing component for the upcoming 24 hours.
- Finally, write a to-be list instead of a to- do list, for tomorrow. It may look something like this:
Tomorrow I will be:
- a person who seeks reasons to smile and laugh
- a person who simply wants to be
The quality of your life is determined by who you are, not by what you accomplish. Human beings are not human acts.
Let’s base the value of our day on that small bit of wisdom and live accordingly. Be.
Now settle down and have a good night’s sleep. It’s your right!
About Nancy Daley
Nancy Daley is a mother of four, nursing educator, and freelance writer. She is actively seeking more being than doing in her day but admits it isn’t always easy. Waking Up In A Busy World is her project.
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Tiny Buddha’s first post, Measuring Quality of Your Day With a To-Be List (Not just a To-Do List), appeared first.