I‘m a big fan of any reminder to stop to consider what changes could make our lives happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative—whether that prompt comes from the New Year, a birthday, Valentine’s Day, a significant anniversary, or official “days” like “Earth Day.”
Some people (Questioners!) often object to using a date like January 1, because they consider the date arbitrary. It’s true, it is arbitrary—and why wait? Now is always the best time to begin.
External dates can be valuable reminders to reflect. In the tumult of everyday life, it’s hard to remember to step back, reflect, and think about what changes we’d like to make.
For that reason, I’ve been working on a Calendar of Catalysts—a menu of dates to use as reminders to stop, evaluate, and plan. I want to offer a range of choices, because different dates will appeal to different people.
I added a bunch of dates, then asked people for more suggestions—so have added a few more.
March 21—3-2-1 is a great day to “blast off” on a project or undertaking you’ve been meaning to start
March 25—National Waffle Day is a day to make any decision you’re “waffling” about
May 23—May 23 is the 143rd day of the year, which has been declared “1-4-3 Day” in honor of Fred Rogers and is a day for acts of kindness and neighborliness. “Mr. Rogers” used the numbers 1-4-3 to stand as a code for “I love you” (based on the number of letters in each word), and the number also had significance in his personal life—for instance, he weighed 143 pounds for thirty years.
August 8—8/8 is a day to evaluate your eating choices, and consider making healthy changes
October 10—10/10 is a day to celebrate everything that’s going right
Ideas? I’m trying to think of a way to use the number “1729”—a Hardy-Ramanujan number or taxi-cab number—but I haven’t figured out a way. This could be a day to remember that the curious, engaged mind can find the world to be a fascinating place, and to push ourselves to learn something new.
For personal dates:
A date that might be meaningful is your “Name Day.” I learned about name days from one of my favorite works of children’s literature, Jennie Lindquist’s wonderful The Golden Name Day (Amazon, Bookshop). In that novel, Wendy is sad that her non-Swedish name isn’t listed in the Swedish Name Day calendar; these days, however, it looks like you can find many names online. I learned that “Gretchen” day is June 10—though more traditionally, as a diminutive of “Margaret,” it might be May 23 or January 25. I have options!
I also like the idea of using a date based on your street address to remind you to make repairs, buy necessary supplies, clear clutter, consider a move, or complete delayed household projects. For instance, if I still lived in one of my childhood homes, I could use the date of April 21, because our street address was 421. (This won’t work for every address, however.)
If you’d like to hear my sister Elizabeth and me talk about the Calendar of Catalysts on the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, we discuss it in episode 364.
If you’d like to download a free, updated PDF of the Calendar of Catalysts, it’s here.
Thanks to the readers and listeners who sent along their suggestions! And keep them coming! Creating the calendar has been such a fun and useful exercise. Also, I’d love to hear if you’ve found this calendar useful, as a catalyst for making change in your life.