As Ice Cube said, "Today was a good day."
By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here
During the era of emotional grunge, or hip hop songs about living an extravagant life, came a song from Ice Cube about having a good day. The rock scene was full of sensitive male screamers crying about their life never living up to their high expectations. On the other end was hip hop and living an indulgent life that lived up to your wildest expectations. It's to be expected, the haves and the have nots. One side lamenting about never having enough, the other side aspiring to have everything they ever dreamed of.
"Nobody I know got killed in South Central L.A. Today was a good day," this one iconic line summarizes the whole message. As long as he's alive and everyone else he knows is alive, it's a pretty good day. The expectations are simple. The rest of the song is about having a good breakfast, playing basketball, winning at dominoes. All realistically attainable things. It was a very odd song of the era and probably the most memorable song of its genre, maybe the only song of the genre.
Growing up in martial arts, this song especially resonated with me. What I got out of martial arts was, have daily attainable rituals that makes each day successful. Make it simple and consistent. Martial arts masters call this the art of living. Ice Cube is essentially saying the same thing the legendary Admiral Yi Sun-Sin said.
"My life is simple, my food is plain, and my quarters are uncluttered. In all things, I have sought clarity. I face the troubles and problems of life and death willingly. Virtue, integrity and courage are my priorities. I can be approached, but never pushed; befriended but never coerced; killed but never shamed."
— Admiral Yi Sun-Sin
For those who don't know, Admiral Yi Sun-Sin defeated 333 ships with only a fleet of 13 ships! He had no room to have his life cluttered. Neither do you. We're obsessive, neurotic, and busy bodies as it is. There's more than enough external expectations, don't be your own harshest critic.
How we're doing it wrong:
- Keep it complicated
- Worry about things that aren't actionable
- Try to control things that aren't attainable
- Set high expectations
- Have low resilience
Things to learn from Ice Cube's Today Was A Good Day:
- Keep it simple
- Make it actionable
- Make it attainable
- Keep expectations realistic
- Keep resilience high
Five Things You Need For A Healthy Day
Here's your mental checklist. Every day do these 5 simple tasks, no matter what else happens, it's still a good day.
- Sleep 7-10 hours.
- Drink 6-8 tall glasses of water a day.
- Eat real foods - Real unprocessed raw colorful vegetables (juicing doesn't count, eat the real deal). Eat quality meats and non-Frankenstein fats, meaning if you were given real milk, eventually could you figure out how to make butter? Yes. Could you ever figure out how to make margarine?
- Spend 20 minutes outside and just breathe.
- Do some form of fascial work on an empty stomach. Whether it's foam rolling, massage stick, tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or rocks. Your body will thank you profusely.
Keep it real
Real foods means real vegetables AND real meats, real fats, and real water. Being really yourself means you on good sleep, outside of your pen, breathing real air, and in a relaxed state.
You do these 5 daily practices and your life will be better. Will it be perfect? No. It never will be. Are these the only thing you should accomplish? No but then everything else will feel like a bonus. Will doing this make your life worse? Definitely not. 5 is easy to remember, 5 is do-able, the best things tend to come in fives. Start with your health and your professional, financial, and personal life will all improve. Why? Because you'll be functioning more optimally. You at your best is a dangerous opponent. Make yourself be the reason for your good day.
Make it actionable with minimal prerequisites
Often times simple daily practices are too vague, just be more mindful. Huh? Or meditate. Sit still and not think about anything? That's probably the hardest thing to ask of someone. Just because it's simple to say doesn't mean it's simple to do. That's why I've selected only physical actionable things so it doesn't require analysis, guesswork, prerequisites, or interpretation. You can literally start tomorrow.
The message of the movie Babe
The movie Babe was nominated for Best Picture and James Cromwell for Best Supporting Actor. The final line of the movie, "That'll do pig, that'll do." That will do... when do we ever tell ourselves that? We should more often. It's not about having the best life, it's about having a full life.
Trying to be healthy and all the rules about happiness are making people anxious and stressed out. It's counterproductive. We need to simplify and make it attainable. Separate absolute practices with what's practical. Remember there's a million things you'll read and hear regarding living a better life, the best practices are the ones you can stick to. The fear people have of simple expectations is, that it won't be enough. That may be true with some things, but with daily best practices, many of us don't have any and we don't know where to start. Even doing a couple of these things or just increasing sleep by thirty minutes will be transformative, productive, and dare I say it, magical. Let's keep it simple and if you can attain these things without an anxiety attack, then maybe you can move on.
Then one day imagine living a life where you're just happy to be alive. As the most hardened New Yorker will tell you, "Hey fuggedaboutit, life is beautiful." Live not to be perfect, live for fullness and wholeness.
Source: Must Triumph
Sam Yang from an early age has been obsessed with connecting the dots between martial arts and efficiency, health, mindset, business, science, and habits to improve optimal well-being. For more info, join his newsletter. You can also connect to All Out Effort on Facebook and Twitter.