Over the past few months, I’ve struggled to have a bad day.

In the past, though, the opposite was true. My day-to-day experience was typically rife with anxiety and a general malaise. It wasn’t quite a depression because I was fairly productive and motivated in that period. But the days themselves always rang an octave or two lower; a droning, glacial slosh between the hours. I was far more interested in sleeping than I was being awake [1].

The big change between then and now has been making a priority to invite things into my life that give me energy, while being more aggressive about eliminating things that drain my energy. Little things like being more consistent about sleep, keeping my diet tight and working out three times a week (1 hour, three times a week makes a big difference), and most importantly: really focusing on and tuning into my work. We’re approaching the end of the first full year living off the profits of my own ideas 🎉

Looking closer at the moments where I was needlessly wasting time—partaking in the obvious traps like television, meaningless relationships, and existential fear and loathing—I started to swap in things [2] that really perked me up. For example, to give me a breather from work, over the summer I decided to fulfill a childhood fantasy and started taking drum lessons each week.

Aside from having a good rapport with my teacher (he’s a hell of a percussionist), each week I walk away from our lessons with a ton of energy—a byproduct of nothing more than just jamming out for an hour [3]. Along with time at the kit, making more of a habit out of exploring the city, checking out the architecture of the nearby campus, and—more recently—learning about firearms are fun asides. Nothing monumental, just indulging in random interest—but things that knock you just enough outside of your day-to-day to add a twinge of excitement to life.

The obvious rebuttal to this is “but I don’t have time for that.” Right now, you probably don’t. But really take stock of how you spend your time. Be honest. How much of your time is wasted on trivia? What if instead of watching entire seasons of TV shows or hanging out with people you don’t like, you swapped in something energizing? Making those things that light you up more of a priority than the things that don’t.

What’s funny is that it’s harder to think about than it is to do. It really comes down to making a decision: I’m going to do this instead of that. Sure, doing it feels weird. And some will raise an eyebrow. But, and this is important, when you’re doing what you really want to do, life runs a lot smoother—no matter the current set of circumstances.

[1] That sounds far more grim than it was. I still laughed and stuff—don’t turn me in to the whitecoats.

[2] Go ahead and call them distractions, you cynical bastard.

[3] Case in point: I’m writing this after a lesson. We started working on Rufus Thomas’ Love Trap this week. It’s harder to get that groove down than it sounds.