“If I had to live my life again I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.”
– Charles Darwin
Avoid Darwin’s Regret
“If I had to live my life again,” wrote an ageing Charles Darwin, “I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week… The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”
Darwin’s mind had become a machine. He was mentally active but, as Maria Popova puts it, “dead to the life of feeling with which beauty inspirits us.” Experiencing beauty is a way to fuel our positive emotions and build resilience to the harsher parts of life.
As psychologist Barbara Fredrickson writes, just as we are what we eat, we are what we feel. So, it’s worth taking the time to regularly step outside our minds and celebrate beauty in all its forms. Have you read or listened to something beautiful today?
Make a PACT
You’ve probably heard of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely). Thing is, these aren’t so great for ambitious, long-term goals.
Let’s say you want to learn a new skill. You can instead make a PACT goal. PACT stands for Purposeful, Actionable, Continuous, and Trackable. This type of goal focuses on continuous growth rather than one clearly-defined achievement.
Want to give it a shot this year? Read more about it here and tell us how you go.
Abigail Ireland, Peak Performance Strategist
The founder of Understanding Performance says she likes to start her day with intent. She:
- Does a short mindfulness exercise (usually a 10-min app-guided meditation). “I might spend even longer if my mind is jumping around and overactive, as this helps to ground me.”
- Journals. “I put pen to paper and write whatever is in my head (no judgement) until one sheet of paper is full.”
- Singles out her top priority by writing out the sentence, “Today will be a good day if I…” and then filling in the ending. “This helps me to really tune into what matters to me.”
- Moves. “Exercise is my medicine! It gives me the physical and mental energy I need to power through the day.” She mixes things up with yoga, Pilates, weight training, functional training (like HIIT), and cardio.
- Has a smoothie if she’s in the mood. “I like to blend a delicious mix of fruit, nuts, protein, cacao, chia, collagen powder, and other ingredients that make me feel good and energized. I don’t drink coffee and I have a sweet tooth, so the cacao gives me that fix!”
- Is at her desk working by 9 am.
Why it works:
- 10 minutes of mindfulness a day is enough to alleviate anxiety and boost focus.
- Putting our thoughts on paper has immense mental health benefits.
- Getting in touch with your day’s #1 priority keeps you focused on what matters. That’s why Panda Planner includes space for writing down your priorities each day.
- Morning exercise is all the good stuff, and mixing it up can keep you motivated.
“We often think of routines as boring or restrictive, but we really don’t need 2-hour morning routines or to replicate what others are doing,” says Abigail. “Do what makes you feel good and experiment with this.”