Our oldest daughter is finishing up her last week of school. First grade has been full of excitement, growth opportunities and new experiences. Over the course of the past year, I have seen her beautiful personality blossom more fully. She is kind, caring, compassionate, smart, hard-working and welcoming to everyone. She tries hard in everything she does, and excels in what she puts her mind to.
Every day has been full of possibility and potential.
So it drove me crazy when she’d walk in the door and we’d have what I’d guess is a fairly typical end-of-school-day interaction.
“How was your day?”
“What did you do today?”
“Really? You were in school for eight hours and just stared at the wall?”
***Same blank stare she’d give the wall was then given to me.***
She’s not alone
If we’re honest with ourselves, our daily reflection can end up feeling a lot like that interaction.
We woke up, went for a quick jog, ate breakfast, went to work, got home after being stuck in traffic too long, had dinner with the family, put the kids to bed, collapsed on the couch for some unnecessary Netflix binging.
How was your day?
What did you do?
We can, amidst the habits and routines of life, miss all of the new and exciting opportunities that lie present before us. Learning to become aware of those can be the difference between our routines becoming ruts, and seizing a new opportunity or chance to grow.
So to counter this, we added a new routine at the end of the day in our family to help us learn to pay attention, even to the small details of our lives.
3 meditative questions to enhance your day
Now, as a part of our nighttime routine, after the teeth are brushed, the books are read, and we’re cozy in bed, we ask these three questions. You can do this activity in less than five minutes, and I promise it will greatly enhance your perception, awareness and ability to find joy in the midst of daily routine.
1.) What was your favorite part about today? As much as we may want to assume that most days are alike: monotonous and dull, the reality is that each day births exciting chances and opportunities. While the event may be similar (eating lunch with classmates or coworkers) they are, in a very real sense, different people than you ate with yesterday. Their moods are different, they have had additional experiences, and the conversations change. Being able to find something humorous, enlightening, encouraging or uplifting teaches us to look at each interaction with fresh eyes. Start by reflecting on your day, and find one thing that stood out to you.
2.) What is one thing you’re thankful for? Thankfulness is underrated, and we too often take what we have for granted. We miss the enormous blessings that we are surrounded by. It’s a sort of “fish in water” syndrome. We’re so used to what we know and have that we often don’t appreciate it like we should. Stopping to find thankfulness in the small moments, the new opportunities, the fresh interactions with others, or little blessings of life teaches us to appreciate all that we have and are.
3.) What is one thing you’d like to pray for? Our lives, for as much as we want to value and appreciate them, also come with struggle and trial. It can be easy to dismiss your coworker as a grump, and never really pray for them (or how you could help them). Just the other day, our daughter wanted to pray for something like this. One of her friends was in a bad mood at the lunch table, and it had put the entire table in a sour state. Rather than just dismissing this, we were able to pray not only for her friend, but that our daughter would be able to find ways to encourage and uplift her. Even in our routines and habits, there are ways to encourage and uplift others.
Our own attentiveness to areas of joy, thankfulness, and opportunity for action can lead us to grow and expand. We reach new heights, explore new possibilities, and attain greater levels of self-care and self-satisfaction.
Add these three questions to your daily routine and harness their benefits. You’ll be surprised by the results.
Justin Hiebert is a Mennonite Brethren pastor in the Denver metro area. He studied Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership at Tabor College and completed his M.Div. at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. He blogs at empoweringmissional.com, where this post originally appeared.