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The Examined Life

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Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. His advice still resonates today. It’s so easy to get caught up in a routine, even if those routines make us feel isolated, unwell, or unhappy. Developing a habit of thinking about our course as a person or as a family can help us dramatically improve our lives by making us more reflective and more thoughtful people.

Regular reevaluations are a wonderful tool for individuals and families to use daily, weekly, monthly, and annually.


Take time out each evening to review the thoughts and feelings about the day. You can look for patterns—things that continually make you or members of your family feel good or bad—but don’t try to problem solve. Allow yourself and your family space to share the way they feel without judging or trying to fix anything.

Key questions to consider:

  • What went well today? What didn’t go well today?
  • When did I feel the most loving today? The least loving?
  • When did I feel the most loved today? The least loved?

Read more about evening reflection rituals…


Use the pause of the weekend to debrief from the past week and plan for the week to come. This is a good time to problem solve, helping what didn’t feel good one week to feel better the next. You may choose to have a weekly reflection as a family, but you may also choose to have one alone with your partner. (Try not to discuss problems and solutions during date night!)

Key questions to consider:

  • Where was there stress this week? How could we prevent that stress in the future?
  • Where will there be stress next week? How can we minimize it?
  • Where was there joy last week?
  • Where do we expect joy in the week to come? If nothing on the calendar looks inviting, can we plan something special to look forward to?

Read more about weekend days of rest…


Adam and I have really benefitted from our monthly reflections because they give us a chance to reevaluate where we are going as a couple and family. Take the chance to make sure everyone’s needs are being met, including yours. (For example, it was during monthly reflections that we realized, as much as we value stay-at-home mothering, I needed to work part-time outside of the home to bring my “A-game” to child rearing.) Go through the calendar week by week before you begin to make sure you can recall the events of the past month.

Key questions to consider:

  • What was the most enjoyable thing that happened this month? The least enjoyable?
  • What worked this month? What didn’t?
  • How can we change our routine to better meet everyone’s needs, including the need for fun and relaxation?


When you make regular reevaluations throughout the year, New Year’s resolutions seem a little mundane. Make choices to exercise or stop swearing at other drivers when you notice you have a problematic habit, instead of waiting until January 1. Instead, use the new year as a chance to evaluate your current needs and dreams as a family. After all, they will change over time.

Key questions to consider:

  • What are your goals as individuals? As a family?
  • Do they still fit you as people and as a family? How might you need to change your goals to better meet everyone’s needs and dreams?
  • Are you moving toward your goals or away from them? How can you change your routine to move you or your family forward?

Have a great tip for a happier life? Share it in the comments or consider submitting a guest post.

One response »

  1. Pingback: A Month of Self-Reflection Round Up | Experimental Wifery

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