A friend who works for Mayor Bloomberg told me they have a “countdown clock” in the office. It counts down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until Bloomberg’s term is over. The clock is meant to remind folks to “Make every day count” as they rush to push forward the Mayor’s policies.
I love this motto, “Make every day count.” After all, we all have our own countdown clock; we just don’t know how many days are left.
The Big Man and I listen to the radio after we turn out the lights at night (I know, many people think that’s a bad idea, but that’s what we do). The announcers frequently repeat the date, “It’s 11:40 p.m. on Monday, January 22.” And I’m always reminded, not necessarily in a bad way, of the days marching on.
Did I make the day count? Did I do something I wanted to do, act the way I wanted to act?
A reader sent me a link to a fascinating article written by the editor-in-chief of Bicycling magazine, The Year I Did Everything Right by Steve Madden.
Madden decided to do his own sort of “happiness project”—he spent a year doing everything right with his bicycling (which goes to show that each person’s happiness project will look different). He kept his bike in top repair, he got it fitted for his specifications, he trained hard and regularly, he ate right and lost weight, and all the rest.
Two points particularly caught my interest.
First, Madden decided to make big changes, even though his life sounds like it was perfectly fine, as it was. I’ve noticed that many people’s “happiness projects” involve huge upheavals, like moving to Tibet or Walden Pond, or giving up shopping, or taking a sabbatical from their family, or the like. But I firmly believe that you can do a “happiness project” within your ordinary life—and that it’s really worth the effort to do so.
Second, Madden notes how hard it was for him to maintain his “do everything right” ambition. I, too, have been struck by how much work it is to be happy—it takes a huge amount of time, focus, and energy to do all the things I know I ought to do. These efforts make me happy, sure, but nevertheless they also take a lot of discipline.
He concludes with the observation that it’s easier to stick to small changes than to big changes, and that even if he’s not able to do everything right, all the time, he’s a lot better off than he was a year ago.
My thoughts exactly. Even though I never manage to stick to all my happiness-project resolutions, I’m doing a better job of making every day count, now that I’m making a more mindful effort.