Tag Archive | Masterpiece Days

The Daily Game

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the daily game?”

The game of making the day a work of art.

“How can I make the day a work of art?”

“I call the ideal day – however you conceive it for yourself –, the masterpiece day.

Get crystal clear on what the components that make up your masterpiece day are. 

What deeply meaningful things that are always within your control do you want to do every day?

Once you have the building-blocks, create a blueprint for your masterpiece day.”

“What if life gets in the way?”

The daily game is living your masterpiece day every day regardless of circumstances.

That’s why it’s important to base it only on things within your control.”

“What are the components of your masterpiece day?”

Growing and Giving [<link; very short read] – where Giving means both Love and Contribution.

Creating, Learning, and Moving.”

Masterpiece Days

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Make the day a work of art, today and forever.

But I don’t have the autonomy to do that yet.

“The ultimate Artistry is living your masterpiece days regardless of external conditions.“


Imbue the day with Meaning.

Create a beautiful context for the day, a beautiful content, and a beautiful structure.

In terms of context, have a meaningful Quest you strive every single day towards.

You mean like a goal?

More like an ideal. Something you can’t possibly reach, but guides your every action.

As Tal Ben-Shahar beautifully put it in The Pursuit of Perfect,

Our ideals are more like ‘guiding stars’ than ‘distant shores.’

Or in the words of Leonardo da Vinci,

Fix your course to a star […]

If you don’t have one, make it your Quest to find it.

In terms of content, there’s a question I love from Alan Watts:

What would you like to do if money was no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?

This question is worth thinking deeply about, and making central to your life until you discover.

Another Quest.

Yes. A practical way of approaching it is by playing the little game I call ‘No day without [<link; short length]’

What are the essential things that every single one of your masterpiece days must contain for you?

There’s a beautiful practice I know from Tim Ferris:

Before you go to bed, write down one thing that if you accomplished tomorrow, would make that entire day a win.

He said it in the context of a to-do list, however I’ve expanded it in scope.

For me, doing all the things on my ‘No day without…‘ list makes the day a win.

What if time does not allow you to fit all of them in?

You don’t find time for important things. You make time.

In this particular case, doing them is non-negociable and I prioritize them over anything else.

However, for a system to be antifragile, it needs to be flexible. Flexibility in this case is given by the amount of time I allocate each. That is, they expand or contract based on the time I have available.

In terms of structure, masterpiece days must strike a balance between structure and flexibility. A beautiful idea I know from Brian Johnson is that of ‘bookends‘. The idea is that we have most control over the beginning and end parts of a day. These are the AM and PM bookends.

Treat your bookends as something precious, for they form the bedrock of the day. Optimize them to perfection, and seek to make the most of them every single day.

No day without…

Make each day your masterpiece. (John Wooden)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What does a masterpiece day look like?”

“The answer is personal and idiosyncratic. One way to think of it is by asking yourself:

What are the essential activities that make up your masterpiece day?

I like to answer it in the form of a little game I call ‘No day without…'”

“What does the answer look like for you?”

“No day without…

– Playing
– Loving
Beautifying [<link; very short read]
– Appreciating

– Growing
– Giving

– Creating (and Creating Value)
– Learning
– Moving

All these are deeply meaningful practices based on things completely within my control.”

The Art of Perception

SEE the Macro in the Micro.

This is a little mantra/directive I created for myself as a constant reminder. It has a double meaning.

One meaning is metaphysical.

It’s a reference to a beautiful quote by Rumi:

You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.

So you could think of the mantra as,

SEE the ocean in the drop.
SEE YOURSELF as the ocean in the drop.

Metaphoric model:
We could call this the ‘holographic perspective‘. Every part contains the whole.

Another meaning is pragmatic.

I love Brian Johnson’s idea of ‘Masterpiece Days‘* [<link; medium length], and I expanded it to one’s entire life: my ultimate goal is to create a ‘Masterpiece Life‘.

* I know the idea comes from John Wooden, but Brian is the meta-source – to use Leo Gura’s terminology – through which all these beautiful ideas have come to me, so I’m crediting him.

I also love (and am fascinated by) the idea of Compounding. The process by which tiny little changes add up, leading to very big changes.

We tend to regard only the big change as significant, not realizing it was the accumulation of tiny little changes that led to it. The mantra is meant to constantly remind me of this process.

Let’s take as an example the tiny little act of controlling an impulse.

One way to go about it is by exerting willpower. This takes a little effort, and you succeed… at first. The problem with impulses is that you don’t have to control just one impulse. The impulse will return again, and again, and again, and again…

This is another (hidden) instance of compounding. Each little impulse takes only a little effort do deal with, but compounded, they really add up in sapping your willpower. Moreover, when your energy reserves are close to depleted – say, at the end of a day –, the unreliability of willpower is plainly revealed.

Anything that takes effort is unsustainable.

The aim (and the best strategy) is EFFORTLESSNESS. One way to reach effortlessness is through MEANING.

When the impulse arises, if you SEE the effort of keeping it in check (Micro) as a fundamental piece in the larger-picture, in the grander tapestry of your Masterpiece Life (Macro), it not only becomes easier, but the compounding effect of the recurring impulse starts working in your favor, and each impulse becomes an opportunity, as you subtly reaffirm a new identity with each iteration.

Metaphoric model:
We could call this the ‘levels-of-magnification perspective‘. The Masterpiece Life is the macro perspective, the Masterpiece Day is an essential lower level of magnification, and the moment is the smallest, atomic level of magnification, the micro perspective. We could even call it, the Masterpiece Moment.

Masterpiece Life
Masterpiece Day
Masterpiece Moment