I’ve been making my small decisions throughout the day, recently, with a simple question: How will I feel about this when today is over?
If I have a choice right now between reading social media and news articles, or writing, I know what the answer will be: at the end of the day, I’d be much happier if I’d chosen writing.
If I am faced with chips and pizza, I might be mightily tempted to eat them right now, but I know that later in the day I’ll be sorry I did. I inevitably feel bad after I eat greasy foods, though I always forget that before I eat the food.
At the end of the day, I won’t regret having spent a little time with my wife or kids, but I will regret watching videos online or wasting my time by playing games.
I won’t regret having done my workout, but I will regret sitting all day.
I’ve learned these answers through repeated observation, but you can learn your own answers by asking the question before you do anything, making a hypothesis (“I won’t regret this later”) and then seeing if you’re right by reviewing the results at the end of each day.
Have a daily review before you go to bed, even if it’s just a mental review. Were you right? Do you regret any of your choices? If so, don’t feel bad about being wrong — be happy that you’ve learned this.
Then make a better choice the next time.
What are you going to do next, after reading this? Will you be happy with that, at the end of this day?
Thanks to Leo Babauta of zen habits.