“What Good have I done Today?”

Towards the end of the book “Why We make Mistakes: How we look without seeing, Forget things in seconds, and are all all pretty sure we are above average”, the Pulitzer winning journalist and writer, Joseph Hallinan writes of a conversation with David Schkade (Professor at the University of California, San Diego) who tells him that “after more than a decade of studying what makes people happy”, he has come to the conclusion that happiness is really about “how you use your time.”

In his book “The Principles of Psychology — Volume I”, published in 1890, one of the fathers of psychology, William James, writes that what we do every day, every moment matters — not just for our happiness but because at all times.

We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and never to be undone.

We shape ourselves every moment and “if we habitually” fashion “our characters in the wrong way”, we will find that “The hell to be endured hereafter, of which theology tells, is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves in this world….” 

In the “Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin”, we read the poymath writing  of his life project – “the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection.” Benjamin writes that early in his life, he decided that he “wish’d to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into.”

To succeed in this, Benjamin articulated some “virtues” that would guide his life. In detailing one of these virtues, we read his plan (a sort of schedule) to “order” each day. It is clear that every moment mattered for Benjamin.  And the day for Benjamin begins with answering a question: “What good shall I do this day?” The day ends with the question: “What good have I done to-day?”

Peace 🙂