How Was Your Day?
Omnia ad majorem Dei gloriam – All for the greater glory of God
It’s one of the most common questions people ask each other after coming home from work or school and can either lead to a dead-end response like “OK” or a description of what our work entailed. Such exchanges are important for coordinating our lives but they don’t do much for building intimate connection. They’re functional, rather than relational, conversations.
But what if, instead of talking only about what we did, we shared more of how we felt about it? Shared more of the emotional content of our day? Instead of asking, “How was your day?” we ask “What was your strongest emotion today?” This helps us to focus on one event that was associated with a significant emotional response. It might have been a pleasant or unpleasant experience or just an unexpected reaction to something.
Most days we haven’t really stopped long enough to reflect on our interior life. So, the question invites each of us to slow down, step back from just moving through our life on autopilot and connect with the meaning of what we are doing.
There’s a rich tradition in the Catholic church of regular interior reflection, one of which is the Daily Examen proposed by St Ignatius over 400 years ago to encourage prayer-filled mindfulness. The Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and to discern His direction for us, whilst acknowledging our successes and failures.
The Examen helps us to be more intentional in how we live, rather than passive. It helps us grow in self-awareness and, by sharing our reflection in prayer, also deepens our intimacy with God. By reflecting on our emotional response, even for just one aspect of our day, we gain insight into our emotional needs and our spiritual desires.
There’s another benefit to this daily practice. Identifying and naming our emotions helps us to regulate them, especially intense emotions that may be driving undesirable behaviours. We may recognise a particular behaviour as a damaging reaction and seek to control it, but it will always be a battle between our will and our emotions. When we’re tired or stressed, the underlying emotions will usually have their way.
St. Ignatius encouraged people to talk to Jesus like a friend, reviewing the day with gratitude and focusing on emotions rather than actions. Try the prayer model for yourself by clicking here and look forward to tomorrow!
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