Grass Stains on My Knees

“I say, if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life.” ~ Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes

I play flag football on Sunday afternoons during the Fall with a group of friends, and it might be one of the most important pieces of my week. Aside from the great camaraderie, my favorite part is how tired I am after the games. Going home physically wasted at the end of the day is one of the greatest feelings, knowing I left every last bit of energy on the field.

There’s no greater feeling than going home, taking a shower afterwards and watching the dirt and grime swirl slowly down into the drain. That’s how I know I had a good, hard Sunday afternoon of football. The amount of dirt in the tub directly correlates to how satisfied I am. The dirtier the tub, the happier I am.


The dirt in the drain can translate to other contexts as well. I get (nearly) the same amount of satisfaction from hitting the “publish” button writing for this blog. At work it’s an “a ha!” moment well-executed. It could also be spending hours piecing a design concept together, or finishing that last line of a song’s chorus.

It’s all just like watching the dirt slowly swirl around.

At the end of the day I have to ask myself one thing: am I tired but excited about the things I learned and accomplished? Have I come home with green knees? If not, then it wasn’t a day I’m proud of.

We all need a metric that gives us a signal that we’ve had a day that we’re proud of–one that we can watch go down the drain at the end of a long day.

What’s yours?

Leave a Comment

{ 38 comments… add one }
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  • Peter Hall October 12, 2012, 11:25 am

    For me it’s whether on that day (week, year, month) I feel there’s been time for  the things that matter to me. It might be spending time on creative projects, with family or just reading. Ideally there’s a sense of progress, a sense that something has moved forward. it’s nice to tick boxes and clear down lists but life’s more than just another spin round the hamster wheel. Knowing I met the commitments I made (to my self as much as anyone) – such as I phoning someone, doing some good writing, fixing the leaking shower screen or shelving a book I’ve read and really enjoyed – I guess is the measure that counts.

  • Kevin L Clay September 17, 2012, 5:35 pm

    I get a similar feeling after cutting the grass or working on my lawn. I guess in today’s society where so many of us sit behind desks, it feels kinda different to work up a hard sweat doing something outside in the heat and with other people.

    While I don’t believe a farmer would have that same feeling of gratification you and I have after physically exerting work, I’m sure he/she gets the same feeling when seeing a bountiful crop.

    It’s simply the idea that your hard work has paid off.

  • Clinton Jiggetts July 25, 2012, 10:30 pm

    Green Knees, what a concept…I will have to remember to ask myself this each day. The key is to understand what it takes for you to play in the grass everyday and know it was a good day you can be proud of :) If you get a chance visit my blog as well

  • Goalstribe June 28, 2012, 9:33 pm

    Great article.  This inspired me to make sure that starting today I’ll try to end each day with “green knees”.

  • Organizar la Vida. June 4, 2012, 12:58 pm

    It´s true, it´s a great feelling to eat when you are hungry, and to rest when you´re tired. It´s great to rest at the end of the day when we came home exausted because we spend all our energy in something great.

    sorry for my englishgrettings from Colombia

  • Susan Gregg April 13, 2012, 7:51 pm

    Love it… dirt as a measure of a great day. I love to garden and I could say a great day is dirty finger nails. I also love to cook so a great smelling kitchen, lots of friends and a great meal to share.

    I too love writing and when I have one of those ah ha moments… yes that is the best.

    I just found your site and I will be back.

    With a big smile,

  • Twinklesandwinks March 26, 2012, 9:33 pm

    If my kids leave dirt in the tub, I know I did them good!  And that makes me happy.  And I’m all about the happy.  Look for twinkles, follow the winks, find your happy. 

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    • Betty April 29, 2017, 5:09 am

      Suinrisrpg to think of something like that

  • Waterbeds March 14, 2012, 11:12 pm

    thanks for reminders glen i appreciated it 

  • adel February 9, 2012, 11:43 am

    Football has been the religion for some people and if you really wanted to be good at it you have to eat grass and muds.

    Zero Dramas

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  • Anonymous January 30, 2012, 8:55 pm

    Loved this post. My thing is mountain biking…when I was first learning my mantra was no ride is complete without a fall. Otherwise you never learn and get better. Thanks for that reminder…

  • Thad Puckett January 29, 2012, 8:19 am

    Love the metric.  Great article.  While I work in an office now, and tend not to play much football (an age thing), I like the idea of looking for “life metrics” from what you do.  You know, paper cuts (office worker), aching muscles (old guy beginning exercise routine), etc.

  • BSPollack January 17, 2012, 6:47 pm

    ya know..  i love this post!   Metrics are in the eye of the beholder.  A good day is many times what we avoid. every day has the opportunity to turn around.  maybe i’ll make that my metric – the moment i turn my perspective to a fulfilling day.  love the blog!  keep on going! 

  • Will Kwan December 30, 2011, 2:51 pm

    Well said.  The one thing I’d disagree with is needing to be excited about what you learned everyday.  Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile.  If you finished what you set out to do, and you’re excited to wake up the next day, then I consider that I day well spent.

  • Albert I Next Small Step December 13, 2011, 8:37 am

    At work my ‘green knees’ come from letting myself become completely absorbed in what I am doing. A few short sessions (even as little as 20mins) of this give me the satisfaction having engaged fully.

  • albert van zyl December 13, 2011, 8:34 am

    At work this my green knees come from letting myself 

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    At work this my green knees come from letting myself 

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  • Anonymous November 13, 2011, 6:05 pm

    Equivalent for me is finding a comment to one of my posts that engages the point.  More work needed on that one.  Grass stains might be easier except for the arthritic knees.

  • Mark Ellwood November 1, 2011, 9:16 pm

    At work, many employees end the day wondering “What did I get done today?” I recommend writing a To Do list every day. Only listi the items that could be completed during the day. Then, as you finish each one, you put a small check mark beside it. This is like the metric that you mentioned in your post. The check marks say, “I got something done.” For those items with no checkmarks, break them into smaller pieces that you could do tomorrow.

    Mark Ellwood

  • Anonymous October 11, 2011, 12:01 am

    A good reminder Glen on what is important to feel at the end of the day – thanks and I have enjoyed your blog for some time now – from a fellow creative here in the middle of rural Ireland

    • Glen Stansberry October 11, 2011, 9:51 am

      Thanks Cathy!

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  • Jordan Serson October 10, 2011, 6:43 pm

    I miss having the money and committed peers to organize and follow through on such an event.  I tried to pull-together a floor hockey team but nobody in my class was very physically active… the class?  Writing.  :P  Scriptwriting.  Maybe blog writing is more energetic.

  • Anonymous October 10, 2011, 3:53 pm

    I grew up as a girl in a house full of girls. When I was in 7th grade, I played football for the first time (flag football). I totally loved it and it was the only time in my whole life that I had the opportunity and I always wished to be able to play again! I am now 44 but if someone asked me to play some Saturday, I would do it!