Feeling good is important. That sentiment may seem banal and trite but for me, it was a lesson hard learned. When I was a younger man, all gasoline and no brakes as they say, emotions felt of little import. Sure, feeling happy or excited was useful. And feeling manic was definitely helpful towards being productive. But more than anything else, when I was younger, I was very much drawn towards action. No matter the circumstance, just knock off the next task on the list. Move, move, move.

As a young person, as long as you’re still on the rails of high school, then college, then work– this system works decently well. As long as you stay on those well-worn rails, you can generally cruise control through life with minimal thought. Study, graduate, make money, pay bills, repeat. Emotions never really entered the equation much anywhere.

But after getting derailed, I’ve come to realize that emotions actually do matter. They matter when you can’t just put everything on autopilot. When there’s no academic calendar or Dilbert-style office overlord driving your schedule, you’re suddenly on the hook for what to do next. And this individual freedom to decide “what’s next”— that really depends on feeling good, if you wish to be productive.

What I’ve come to learn after writing and publicly posting ~300 words every day is that writing is a kind of barometer for me about my mental and emotional state. It’s the proverbial canary in the coalmine. If the words come easily and flow– I’m in a good state. If I’m blocked, I’m apparently in a bad state or tired, even if I don’t feel bad or tired.

Related to this, by the way– the 85 percent rule! Tim Ferriss interviewed Hugh Jackman! (I absolutely love that episode and recommend it with every fiber of my being.) But basically: I’m at my best when I’m loose, operating at 85% capacity, and feeling good. That is my optimal state.

I’ve also come to learn that if you’re having trouble sleeping, writing the 300 words right before bed actually works quite well. It’s a good exercise that tires out those neurons.