Evening Recollection

As the last thing you do before falling asleep in the evening, recall the events and choices of the day, starting with the moment you got into bed, and continuing in reverse order from the end of the day to the beginning. As you go, note the places where events were outside your control, and the places where you had the opportunity to make choices about what to think, say, or do. Don’t worry if you fall asleep; just go as far back as you can, until you doze off.

Once you have been doing this for a while, you may find patterns emerging in the way that you often respond (or fail to respond) to certain people, events, feelings, places, or situations. Make note of these situations, and consider using them as starting points for the premeditation activity. Pay attention to which parts of your day are within your control, and which parts are not. With practice, you may find yourself with a greater ability to note challenging situations at the moment they arise, so that you can respond from a place of freedom, rather than habit or compulsion.

While it’s helpful to note which parts of your day were good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, conducive to flourishing (eudaimonia) or not, try not to get caught up in praising or blaming yourself. Instead, focus on observing the patterns of your life, so that you can keep hold of the patterns which serve you well, and change the ones which do not. Once they are done, past actions are no longer under our control; but what is under our control is how we intend to act in the future.