Dayception and Daynial

I hate being surprised by what day it is. If you hear me say “Where did January go?” or “how is it half way through the year already?” know that I am internally cringing. Moaning about how quickly time is passing is cliché and I don’t like doing it. However,  I do feel reassured most of the time when people agree with whatever temporally-dense comment I just made.

Nowadays, if the date surprises me I take it as a sign that I haven’t been very mindful recently. This happens to me when I’ve been so busy with work and doing one thing after another (YouTube videos mostly) that I haven’t allowed myself to reflect on anything. When a month passes by in the blink of an eye, that’s ‘dayception’.

‘Daynial’ occurs on the other hand because our minds are experts in avoiding information that might be unpleasant to dwell on. It’s an intriguing feature of how our minds work that we can know intellectually what the date is without connecting it to what it means to us. What does today’s date mean for the things you have been putting off and the goals you’ve set yourself? When my dissertation deadline was looming last summer, I didn’t like to think about the date at all. I lived in daynial until I couldn’t anymore. I had to eventually confront my list of tasks to complete and find time to get them done.

This is when I started actively reminding myself a few times a day what the date was. Facing the date in this way meant there was less room for excuses and procrastination. Next time someone expresses surprise at the day of the week or time of year, instead of nodding and agreeing with them, stare deeply into their eyes with a concerned expression and ask them ‘What are you hiding from?!’.

Tips for beating daynial and dayception:

1. Remind yourself what the date is a few times a day, including both the day of the week and the day of the month.

2. Look up the date on your phone or desktop calendar and select the setting which means you can view the whole year in one go. It can be grounding to view today’s highlighted square in context.

Further reading:

  • Tim Urban from Wait But Why wrote an article which helps to put your days and weeks into perspective
  • Your calendar


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