Think back to the most recent good day you had, a time when you went to bed confident that you’d spent one of your irreplaceable days wisely.

Maybe it was yesterday, or maybe it was a while ago.

Do you know why it was a good day? Can you put your finger on it?

We each have to answer this question for ourselves, but we do get to choose. Our answer reveals a great deal about our personal philosophy.

What makes a good day?

Ingredient List for a Good Day

We’ve each got a formula (whether we realize it or not). Ingredients vary, but they might include:

  • Starting a new project that might not work
  • Following all the rules
  • Reading a book full of challenging new ideas
  • Dodging criticism
  • Overcoming fear and doing meaningful work
  • Doing as little work as possible
  • Doing a favor for someone with less power than you
  • Avoiding responsibility
  • Shipping something you made
  • Buying a new toy
  • Initiating a new project at work
  • Keeping things the way they are
  • Giving something away

Two Basic Ingredients

I’ve found two basic ingredients that are present almost every time I have a good day:

  1. Learning something new
  2. Helping someone I didn’t have to help

What makes a good day? Your mileage may vary, but these two ideas seem like a good starting point.

And the best part is, we’re in control of both.