“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”
–Norman Vincent Peale
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
“How could today have been better?”
That was the question awaiting me when I opened my daily journal. It is a 365 questions*5 years*1825 answers journal that I write in while I am waiting for my laptop to boot up. Usually I am quick to write down my answers, but that question was not easy and the answer wouldn’t be either. After all, it was only 7:30 in the morning and I had just poured my first cup of coffee. I could not yet imagine what could be better.
The question provided me an opportunity for reflection. I did not think it was a coincidence that among the “what time did you last check your social network?” or “what was the last fruit you ate?” questions, that this day’s seemed a little deeper. Just a week earlier I had returned home from a retreat focused on Metta meditation – a loving kindness form of meditation practice that plants the seeds of Peace. (The word Metta comes from Pali, an ancient Indic language meaning loving kindness.)
I had never been on this kind of retreat before. I actually had not been on a retreat since high school, and I don’t remember much about that except my friend Trish twisted her knee while dancing around the fire pit and I had to accompany her to the hospital, thus missing the entire s’mores session. As to this retreat, I was interested but also skeptical. Would it turn into a therapy session for 11 unhappy women with all the drama of a Housewives reality show? Thankfully, it was nothing like that. And it turned out to be exactly what I needed.
We had a fantastic leader who guided us to reflect core Metta phrases. We explored how each of us could be happier, affect those around us and deepen our connection to the living earth. There were no long therapeutic discussions, but a lot of self-reflection and introspection. We were responsible for our own thoughts. By the time we rolled into the second evening, there was a marked change in all the attendees.
So, as I came across the daily question in my journal asking how my day could be better, it seemed like a wonderful opportunity. The day had not yet really begun for me and I could already make it better.
How Could Today Have Been Better?
What I did was think about how I wanted the day to end, and focused my energy on making it happen. As I moved through the remaining hours – through phone calls, emails, articles and updates – I understood I had the power to make things good/bad or easy/hard. Each choice and decision throughout the day wasn’t necessarily mine, but how I responded to each was.
So at 7:30 am that morning as I poised my pen over the journal’s page, I decided the day could really only be better if I could go to bed happy and content, knowing I had exhibited strength, patience, humility and knowledge.
Each day we set the course for our path or alter it. You have the power to decide how you are going to make it better before you even begin. So, how can you make the rest of today better?
The Traditional Metta Phrases
May I be … free from HARM
May I be … free from FEAR
May I be … HAPPY
May I be … HEALTHY
May I live … WITH EASE