Every single day is a clean slate allowing us to start afresh, in countless ways.
As such, taking some time each night to contemplate the day’s events and your reactions to them is a great way to ensure you don’t repeat any missteps, or that you face certain situations with more patience and positivity.
If you want to make tomorrow the best it can be, here are 10 questions you should ask yourself every night:
01What was I most grateful for today?
If you don’t have a gratitude journal yet, consider this your sign of encouragement to start one.
Taking a bit of time every single night to write down what you are grateful for sets the tone for the next day. It allows you time to think about all the little things that made you happy, which will make you more aware of them the next time they happen.
For example, if you were having a terrible day at work, were you immensely grateful for the little cat face the barista swirled into your afternoon coffee? If so, maybe you can thank them for it tomorrow (which, in turn, might improve the terrible day they’re having).
Focusing on gratitude brings an overall greater sense of happiness and fulfillment, and it makes us more likely to be kind and appreciative toward others.
These days, everyone could do with a bit more kindness, don’t you think?
02What insight have I gained today that can help me tomorrow?
Sometimes, finding out a bit more about a person or situation can change our perspectives on them exponentially.
We tend to assume things about others (or about situations) when we don’t have all the details available to us, filling in the gaps from our own perceptions or personal experiences.
For instance, let’s say you’re frustrated with someone at the office because they take a long time to respond to emails, or haven’t been getting their work done as efficiently as you think they’re capable of.
You may snap at them for being lazy or inefficient, or trash-talk them behind their back because they aren’t meeting your standards.
How would your perspective about them change if you found out they were recovering from a traumatic brain injury? Or that they’re suffering terrible sleep deprivation because their child is in cancer treatment?
The more we learn, the more insights we develop about the world around us, the better we can navigate our lives with grace and dignity.
03What negative self-talk do I need to reframe before tomorrow comes?
When you think about the way you treated yourself today, can you honestly say that you spoke to yourself with loving kindness? Or was it more like condemnation?
Were you patient with yourself if you made a mistake or didn’t achieve something to your satisfaction? Or were you immediately cruel and insulting?
I’m really bad with this, so I can tell you firsthand that it’s a massive challenge for me to overcome as well.
Certain health setbacks have dropped my once-impressive fitness levels significantly, and I’m often quite awful to myself about the things I can’t do as expected right now, instead of being patient and encouraging.
As such, I’m trying to reframe my responses so they’re more positive, rather than cruel and critical.
For instance, instead of being angry or frustrated that I can’t deadlift 150 lbs anymore, I focus on how I can lift 70 lbs more now than I could a few months ago.
Similarly, instead of thinking “I’m so weak and pathetic,” I think “I’m healing, and getting stronger and healthier by the day.”
Every criticism can be turned into gentle encouragement by reframing perspectives and rephrasing responses.
04What challenge am I ready to face courageously tomorrow?
Most of us prefer to avoid situations or experiences that cause us stress or discomfort. As such, we often set aside various responsibilities because we know how uncomfortable they’ll make us feel.
Unfortunately, many of these issues grow exponentially if they aren’t dealt with in a timely fashion, especially if they’re related to your health or living situation.
Consider some of the challenges that you’ve been avoiding and determine which of them you feel ready to face with courage tomorrow.
Maybe you can make an appointment to get that weirdly shaped mole looked at, even though you’re afraid of what the results may be. Or perhaps you’re ready to talk to your lawyer about drafting separation papers.
Whatever you choose, know that you have the strength and courage to get it done, even if you’re trembling with nerves throughout the experience.
05What negative energy do I need to release so I can start tomorrow fresh?
A lot of people say that it’s a bad idea to go to bed angry, so if there’s something that might make you toss and turn for hours before you can finally sleep, aim to release it instead.
Maybe someone upset you at work and it’s left you feeling troubled all day. Or one of your family members said something flippantly that hurt you and now you can’t seem to let go of it.
Now is your opportunity to choose to release this energy so you can rest properly and start tomorrow anew.
The method of release is up to you, so determine what the best course of action is for you.
Would taking a shower and envisioning the negativity washing away be helpful to you? How about some gentle Hatha yoga? Or journaling about what happened to exorcise it?
Release it however you can so that tomorrow can be a fresh, clean, new start.
06How did I respond to something today that I can improve upon tomorrow?
We often respond to things in ways that, in retrospect, could have been handled with much more grace.
For example, a friend of mine recently told me about an experience she had on her 6-year-old daughter’s birthday.
When she woke up, her daughter asked excitedly if she could wear her birthday dress. But my friend said no because they were going to have breakfast and then run all these errands. Her little one was getting more and more upset by the minute.
My friend didn’t understand why she was so upset until her sister reminded her that it was her daughter’s one special day a year. Why shouldn’t she be able to wear the dress all day if she wanted to?
It was a learning experience for my friend, who was seeing things through an adult’s perspective, e.g. not wanting the dress to get dirty, or thinking that there was a “right” time and place to wear it.
In reality, it’s just clothing, and wearing it would make that little girl the happiest person in the world. Who cares if it got stained or wrinkled?
We get to choose how we respond to every situation. And how we respond can make a massive difference—both in our own lives, and in the lives of others.
Think about events that happened over the course of the day that you could have handled more productively or positively.
Could you have shown sympathy to the cat when it vomited instead of getting mad at it? Or had more patience with the elderly person counting coins at the store instead of annoyance?
Learn from today so you can do better tomorrow.
07What did I learn today about my habits or behavioral patterns?
We all have patterns and routines that can either help or hinder us in our various pursuits.
It’s only by recognizing these habits that we can change or transcend them in order to live in greater alignment with our values and goals.
For example, let’s say you’d like to improve your fluency in a particular language. You’ve downloaded a great language-learning app and picked up some books to help you practice, but then find you simply don’t have enough time in the day for this pursuit.
It’s at this point that you need to examine what you’re doing with your time, and whether you honestly don’t have enough of it, or if you’re squandering it.
If you spend 15 minutes every morning scrolling through social media, and another 15 minutes doing the same thing before bed, that’s half an hour that could be put toward learning that language instead.
If you look at your own less-than-helpful behavioral patterns honestly, you can take action to curb them accordingly.
08What can help me bolster my resolve and strengthen my will?
If something is important to you, you’ll likely have a measure of strength and resolve to pursue or support it.
This resolve can falter, however, especially if you feel like you’re not seeing substantial change.
For example, if you’re fighting to end animal cruelty or find solutions to climate change and you’re constantly barraged by images of animals suffering and oceans full of plastic, you may feel like giving up.
Similarly, if you have a personal pursuit like improving your health or getting fitter, this can take a big hit if you’re not noticing any immediate improvements, while at the same time, you’re constantly bombarded with adverts showing slim, toned people.
You may feel like nothing you do will make a difference, either to your personal situation or in the grand scheme of things. Or the relentless images cause you such mental and emotional distress that you feel less capable of continuing.
If it’s been a particularly soul-destroying day, take some time to think of ways you can re-ignite your passion and resolve tomorrow. Like reminding yourself of the work and achievements of individuals who inspire you, or better still, surrounding yourself with these people if you can.
09Have I neglected my own self-care today?
As you’re winding down from the day’s events, take note as to whether you feel you’ve dedicated enough time to vital self-care, or if you feel worn out and resentful because of your various obligations.
If it’s the latter, look at the situations you felt took priority over your well-being today, and assess how this can be made better tomorrow.
For example, did you not have enough time for your own pursuits because other people were overstepping your established boundaries? If so, ask yourself why you allowed that to happen instead of fiercely defending said boundaries.
Alternatively, did you set aside your own wants and needs to tend to others instead? If this is the case, why do you think that your joy and fulfillment should take a backseat to other people’s?
When you understand the factors that contribute to your depletion and lack of self-care, you can take the steps needed to improve this situation.
10Are there areas in which my perspectives could benefit from more education?
Most of us have preconceived notions about various topics, as well as beliefs that are based on these notions.
For instance, if we grew up in a fairly homogenous society in which everyone spoke the same language and followed the same religion, we may believe what we’ve been taught about Other People without question.
That doesn’t mean what we’ve been taught is true, but it’s often difficult for people to break free from their formative programming.
If today you found yourself in situations that challenged your previously held beliefs or convictions, it may benefit you greatly to expand your perspectives.
Consider delving into this alternative viewpoint by doing research from different sources, or by talking to people who have had firsthand experience in what you’re learning about.
You’d be amazed to discover how your views and previously held beliefs may change once you educate yourself on various topics.
Few things can help us understand and empathize with one another more than paying attention to what others share about their own experiences.
Ask yourself some (or all) of these questions every night, and take note of how your life begins to change.
Every morning is an opportunity to begin life anew. So take time to contemplate how your day unfolded as the sun sets, observe your reactions, and decide how you will proceed from here.
Then, when the light returns a few hours later, you’ll have the chance to put all that newfound introspection into action.
“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”