A Straightforward Question to Help You Create a Life You Love

Your “dream life” is likely more boring than you think. That’s a good thing.


Daniel Mowinski

3 years ago | 3 min read

On a beautiful day in August 2017, I realized something was wrong.

On the surface, everything was perfect. I’d just moved to the paradisiacal island of Bali. My new business was taking off. I’d met a wonderful group of people, and my girlfriend was joining me in a few weeks.

But one day, as I sat gazing at the lush rainforest just beyond my balcony, a realization struck me: something’s missing.

And I don’t mean, “Oh, the wallpaper could be a different colour.” It was a gut-wrenching, “Something is missing.”

First world problem, right?

Everything was great. What right did I have to feel dissatisfied?

Yet despite the beauty of my surroundings, despite the full life I had, I couldn’t shake the feeling. I wasn’t happy.

Was I being self-involved? Ungrateful? A typical millennial navel-gazer with a blinkered perspective?

A Journey Began

My mini-realization set me on a path to figure out what a meaningful, purpose-driven life really involves.

And one question illuminated my search more than any other. It was a question that forced me to reevaluate my idea of “happiness”.

I’ll share it with you in a moment.

But first, why am I telling you this story?

Because I bet a small part of you feels the same. Your life is pretty good. You’ve got a full belly, loving friends, and decent work.

But you’re still not happy.

Your unhappiness might be loud and overwhelming. Or it might just manifest as a niggling sense of unease.

In either case, you’re searching for something more. But you’re not sure what that “something more” is.

You might even feel a little guilty about it.

I know. I felt exactly the same.

But I eventually saw that being grateful for what I had and wanting to find a deeper form of fulfillment weren’t mutually exclusive aims.

With that in mind, how can you uncover what you really want from life? Your “something more”?

Why You’re Looking at the Future All Wrong

If you’re like most people, you probably think of the future in an ambiguous way. As a wide-open and empty space ready to be filled with purpose and adventure.

But if you’re going to attack the conundrum of purpose head-on, you need clarity about what you’re trying to “fill up”.

So here’s a different take:

The average human lifespan consists of 26,280 days.

Maybe a few more. Maybe a few less.

That’s it. Twenty-five thousand days and you’re wood-encased worm dinner. Or a pile of ashes. Your pick.

Your “future” is a collection of a few thousand days tied together by a routine.

You’re not attempting to fill a big open-ended chasm. That’s not what your life is for.

You’re searching for something to fill days.

A Simple but Powerful Question

“No one suspects the days to be gods.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Viewing your life in terms of days instantly clarifies things.

Yes, it highlights the fact that time is short.

But, crucially, it gives you a “template” for your daily work and activities. It gives you boundaries — a kind of framework to latch the heavier questions of meaning and passion onto.

So here’s the question you need to ask:

How do you want to spend your average day?

Note I didn’t say the “last day of your life” or your “perfect day”. This is a typical, run-of-the-mill day that you have to repeat over and over again, for at least the medium(ish)-term future.

What would an average day look like in an ideal world?

If you can answer that question, even just partly, you’ve immediately got a practical answer to the question, “What should I do with my life?”

You’re Probably More Boring Than You Think, Which Is Great

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?
~ Philip Larkin

Here’s one final piece of advice:

Give yourself the freedom to be boring.

There’s a malicious belief nowadays that if an experience isn’t intense, it’s not real. Where it comes from I don’t know. Maybe it’s a product of our dopamine-addled nerves and ever-dwindling attention spans.

But that’s not what life is about. Quiet activities often provide a profoundly nourishing form of sustenance.

Time spent reading, or pottering in your garden, or walking your well-worn trail through the park, isn’t wasted.

It’s not about what you do; it’s about how deeply you feel it.

Here’s my “perfect day”:

Time for writing and spiritual practice. Time with friends and loved ones. Nature, good food, and a sense of health and well-being. An adventure holiday marked on the calendar.

Now, time to write yours.


Created by

Daniel Mowinski







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