What makes for a great life?

According to philosopher Brian Johnson, a great life is simply a procession of great days.

Masterpiece days, he calls them.

And what are the elements of a masterpiece day?

That’s what we are going to explore this week.  

I’m currently enrolled in Brian’s yearlong Optimize Mastery program.  It’s been a fantastic learning experience.  Living a good life is at the core of the Optimize program. The study of a good soul.  

We begin by identifying our virtues or character strengths.  The ancient Greek philosophers and modern scientists agree we flourish by putting our virtues into action.  

But how?  How do we show up as our absolute best? 

We choose to close the gap between our best self and how we are showing up.  

Brian tells us it is literally that simple.

To architect a masterpiece day, we begin by creating a canvas.  We ask: what does my ideal day look like?  In the past, when have I been at my absolute best?  What was I doing and not doing?  What habits are serving me well?  Which ones are not serving me well?  What is my kryptonite?

Doing a little research is a good place to start.  We can track our time for a week or two.  All change begins with awareness and understanding how we are currently spending our time can be a wake up call.

Next, we focus on what Brian calls our AM and PM bookends.  These are the parts of our day where we have maximum control.  During the middle of the day, things come at us.  We react.  At the beginning and end of the day, however, we can be more proactive.  

It’s the “80-20 rule” in action.  The AM and PM bookends are the key levers, the 20 percent of our actions that drive  80 percent of our results.  

Think of our masterpiece day as a puzzle.  The AM and PM bookends are like the edge pieces.  We start here because they create the structure around which we fill in the middle sections.  

Our goal is to get really good at starting and ending our days.  This week we will look at how.  

Finally, we make it a game.  Have some fun with it.  Was today a masterpiece day?  What was awesome? What needs work?  What can I optimize going forward?

When we change our behaviors, we change our life.  As we stay with it, the compound effect kicks in.  We move from theory to practice to mastery.   In time, our prior best becomes our new baseline. 

When’s the best time to put these ideas into action?


Today’s the day.  Really.  

Make today a masterpiece day.  

More tomorrow.

Reflection:  How intentional am I currently about creating each day?

Action:  Journal about the elements in my masterpiece day.

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