“Taking in the good, whenever and wherever we find it, gives us new eyes for seeing and living.” – Author: Krista Tippett. The On Being Project
When we get caught in a rut and become discouraged and demoralized with ourselves, it is no simple matter to talk, think, or climb our way out of it. When we hold all the aces it can be “relatively” easy to brush ourselves off and start again. But if we are suffering from devastating news and one loss after another, it is a different matter. Many of us know what to do, or what we could be doing, (there is no shortage of information) but there are days when we can’t rise to the occasion. We don’t even want to. And if we aren’t aware, we can then start chastising ourselves for everything under the sun.
The Art of Living Every Minute of Your Life
As I was thinking about these things in my own life, and the many lives of people I know, I recalled a recording I listened to from one of my teachers. The recording is called The Art of Living Every Minute of Your Life by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen. Lucky me, I got to hear it in 2008, the year I was diagnosed with cancer. Coincidentally, a friend mentioned it to me this week who thought I would like it so I went looking to check it out once again.
There was one section I remembered that stood out for me – three questions. Dr. Remen called it a heart journal and she had designed it for medical students and doctors as a psychologically sophisticated way to way to rediscover meaning in their work, a reminder of what they were capable of doing and a sense of gratitude for being here to do it. In truth, it was transformative. Her books with the humble titles of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings along with her curriculum, The Healer’s Art, are now taught in more than half of all medical schools in the US along with several European schools. Thousands of people have been impacted by her devotion, expertise, vision, and generosity.
Like myself, many have found the three questions a gentle way to end each day and provide ourselves with a new lens to view our lives, even when things are not going according to plan. They go like this:
- What surprised me today?
- What touched my heart today?
- What inspired me today?
What you do is take ten minutes at the end of the day and reflect backward with the first question until you come to “what surprised me?” Write it down and start over with the second question “What touched my heart?” Write it down. Finally the third question, “What inspired me?” Once you find it, write it down. Close your book and go to sleep.
I found it interesting to begin the reflection for each question at the bedtime hour working back towards morning. Although it has been years since I last did this exercise I will go ahead right now and try it. (it is close enough to my bedtime)
What surprised me today? -Reflecting through the hours I go back to the early morning hour and notice I was surprised that I got Wordle in 2 lines. This has only happened three times before. I realize how much I enjoy doing this delightful and uncomplicated word game each morning and then posting it to our Family Wordle Group. It’s fun.
What touched my heart today? – Scanning backward, once again, I stop at 10:30 AM when I had the privilege to listen to President Zelenskyy addressing the University students across Canada. This was hosted by the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. What touched me deeply was the President’s response to a student’s question about who and what inspires him to keep going. He responded gently and movingly with stories of ordinary Ukrainian citizens, the unsung heroes, giving examples of their courage and strength. My heart was touched.
Who inspired me today? A beautiful woman who has lived for several years was on a zoom webinar with me and other lovely people during the noon hour. To see Elli with her radiant smile that lit up the room, a beautiful bouquet of hand-picked peonies at her elbow, and to hear her expression of gratitude for life with nary a complaint was a gift. I felt inspired just to be with her in our zoom room.
It was interesting to hear Rachel Remen discuss how hard this exercise can be for overworked and exhausted physicians. She indicated that it can take several days if not weeks before some can respond to the questions.
Having just done this publically with you I can say that I feel good going to sleep tonight. How lucky am I to have had these three experiences, and now they are lodged in my hippocampus, temporarily. Maybe the recall and the writing will move them into longer-term storage. We will see. But it doesn’t matter, because I had the joy of remembering these three occasions once again.
It is always an invitation to you, to give it a try. I am starting with two weeks and will re-evaluate. We are storytellers and each day is a new page in our story. Another chance to find meaning and gratitude and love.
2:) For those who have hard things they need to do. You can do it! A music video by Carrie Newcomer You Can Do This Hard Thing
3:) It is officially summertime, so bring out your bathing suits and focus on sand castles, hammocks, hiking, and ice cream. In other words, make time for fun.
4:) Thank you once again. I appreciate every one of my readers. That means YOU. Warmest wishes and see you next week. Trudy