Life is hectic. That’s why we all need a time and space in our days to be still collect ourselves. For centuries, men and women in religious orders have had ritual prayers to end their days and calm their spirits. But an evening reflection ritual can add to everyone’s quality of life.
- Reevaluate your long-term goals. It’s easy to lose sight of your goals when you don’t think about them regularly. Taking the time to see what you enjoyed and didn’t is a great chance to reevaluate whether your life is headed in the direction you want. For example, Adam spent a few weeks filling in for one of his managers at work. Almost every night for those few weeks, he reflected that helping his co-workers had been the favorite part of his day. Our evening ritual showed us that he would eventually like to manage a team of his own, and that he should make career decisions to help him work toward that goal.
- Repair problems. Reflecting on your day can also identify the things in your life that are preventing you from being as happy as you could. My first period teaching was regularly the worst part of my day. With a little thought, Adam and I realized that I was constantly running five minutes late when I dropped our son off at the sitter’s. A few simple changes to our morning dramatically improved how much I enjoy my job.
- Recollect your day. For people who struggle with their memories, an evening reflection ritual is a useful tool for improving recall. Start your reflection by mentally running back through all the things that happened to you that day.
- Reconnect as a family. When you and your spouse spend most of the day apart, it can be difficult to feel like a unit again at the end of the day. A good evening ritual provides a reliable forum to discuss the things that really mattered to you over the last ten to twelve hours. It is also a great opportunity to ask each other for help and advice.
- Remember your loved ones. It’s easy to get caught up in the needs and desires of your immediately family, but there are probably people in your life who need TLC as much as your husband or kids. Our reflection ritual reminds us to be open to other people and look for ways to share our time and resources with people who need them.
Our Evening Ritual
An evening reflection ritual doesn’t have to be anything complex. Adam and I used to perform ours over dinner. Now we incorporate it into our son’s bedtime routine. (We like to guess what his answers would be.) The important thing is to have a devoted time and quiet place.
If you want to share your reflection ritual with your family, it is important to set a few ground rules. Adam and I have to really listen to each other. He can’t comment or advise unless I ask for his help. Most importantly, we aren’t allowed to get our feelings hurt when we were the worst parts of each others’ days.
Our evening ritual revolves around two simple reflections:
- What is the best thing that happened to you today? When did you feel the most loving? The most loved?
- What is the worst thing that happened to you today? When did you feel the least loving? The least loved?
We take turns answering the first reflection, then the second. Sometimes Adam wants to discuss his day. Sometimes I just want him to listen. There are days we’re able to solve a problem in our lives. And there are days I don’t have anything to offer Adam except love and support. But we take time out of every day to hear each other speak about what in our lives in going well and what isn’t quite working.
We like to end by remember the people in our lives who need our help. It reminds us to be thankful for what we have and on the look-out for ways we can serve the people we care about.
Do you have an evening ritual? Share it with us in the comments!