I want to supply you with a list of daily practices that I personally use. If done with commitment and consistency, these simple techniques will produce changes in your inner and outer experience. Everything here fits within the parameters of a busy day.
**Morning Connection. Upon waking, it is crucial to make some connection to your highest ideals; do this before picking up your iPhone, clicking on the television, or getting sucked into social media. You can practice something very basic, such as saying The Lord’s Prayer, or if you prefer something non-spiritual, repeating an affirmation while still in bed, such as Emile Coué’s “day by day” mantra.
**Sacred Literature. Connect each day, however briefly, with a great piece of ethical or religious literature. Even if it’s just one line from the Book of Proverbs, carry it in your mind throughout the day. I am registered to receive a daily email with a passage from mystical teacher Vernon Howard (anewlife.org). You can also carry a pocket Bible, Bhagavad Gita, or Tao Te Ching, or keep one on your phone. Read it in the elevator, on your commute, or at your desk.
**Express Gratitude. As Joni Mitchell sang, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” These words are prophecy. We bypass incredible blessings each day. After actor Christopher Reeve was rendered quadriplegic in an accident, he observed, “I see somebody just get up out of a chair and stretch and I go, ‘No, you’re not even thinking about what you’re doing and how lucky you are to do that.’” Every morning—no matter what stressors you face—enumerate at least three things for which you are grateful. It will set your day on a different track.
**3 P.M. Prayer. In Christian tradition, Jesus is said to have died on the cross at 3 p.m. Some people reserve this as a special time for prayer—even if just to take a few moments to express thanks, remember a loved one, or ask to be of highest service that day. I set a daily alarm on my phone for 3 p.m. and often use this time to pray for someone’s recovery or for the needs of friends or people who have written to me. However packed your schedule, you can almost always find a few moments for a silent devotion. I invite everyone reading this to join me, whether once in a while or every day, at 3 p.m. EST for a few moments of meditation or silent prayer.
**Choose Kindness. Toward the end of his life, the 20th-century novelist and spiritual journeyer Aldous Huxley was asked by a reporter to name—out of all the Eastern philosophies, psychedelic experiments, and human potential exercises the British intellectual had tried—the single best method for inner development. “Just try being a little kinder,” Huxley replied. The seeker wasn’t being glib. Christ, Buddha, and the Talmudic sages recognized kindness as a revolutionary act.
**Radically Forgive. Nelson Mandela did not bring justice to South Africa so much as forgiveness and reconciliation. The thirst for justice often translates into spite and vengeance, which is life-withering on both a national and intimate scale. Commit daily to an authentic effort to forgive everyone who has hurt you, even cruel people. If you can honestly attempt this—and it may require a lifetime of repeat tries—you will begin to experience a new sense of inner calm. Remember: We become what we don’t forgive.
**Say No to Humiliation. Much of our social media, talk radio, and “reality” television dishes out the cruel glee of seeing someone get embarrassed or humiliated. During the day, whether on your phone, computer, or in front of the television, avoid posts and shows that drag people through the mud. Are you tempted to make a snarky remark on Twitter? Ask yourself: Is this necessary? The ancient Greeks cautioned to respect your neighbor’s privacy and dignity: “Zeus hates busybodies,” wrote Euripides. Think of how powerful it could be if just ten percent of the population took a “no humiliation” pledge and rejected cruel or gossipy communications. Be part of that ten percent.
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