February 23, 2017

A Simple Exercise that will Guarantee Brightness in your Day.

Before I fall asleep at night, I review my day and ask myself one simple, relaxing question that’s had a powerful effect on my view of the world.

We recently moved to San Diego, and I awoke to yet another rainy day. It’s rained 10 out of 12 days since we arrived. My husband and I felt a bit frustrated about the inclement weather getting in the way of exploring our new home town.

I went to the sofa in our tiny living room and simply sat down, looking at the pouring rain outside.

The tall casement windows overlook a patio that extends into a small canyon beyond—it’s probably more of a large ravine than a canyon—but it’s filled with lush greenery. In the storm, the Eucalyptus trees were dancing and swaying wildly.

It was an ominous, wet, green and grey scene—surreal in its own way, given that this canyon runs through the center of a busy neighborhood—a more or less secret, hidden pocket of nature that has defied development.

“Whatcha’ doing, honey?” my husband asked gently after a few minutes.

“Well, since we decided to not go out in the storm,” I said. “I guess I’m just sitting and watching the rain.”

He got up from behind his computer and came over to me on the sofa.

“How about we watch it together,” he said simply enough, putting his arm around my shoulders and drawing me near.

And that’s what we did. For a quiet 10 minutes or so, we cuddled up and watched as a rainstorm that had shut down all of California’s airports rained itself out on the other side of our window.

Later, when things seemed to let up a bit, we left in search of a neighborhood grocery store.

On the way, I saw people huddled under meager bus stop awnings, or running through the wet and windy streets carrying bags, or huddled down over their bikes against the inclemency.

I had the fantasy of stopping and offering each and every one of them a ride. 

At the grocery store, a man—unlike the people I’d seen running and huddling—was warm and dry in his all-weather jacket as he stepped into his Mercedes Benz in the parking spot next to us.

“Here it is!” he said excitedly as we got out of our car, waving his hand dramatically at the sky and ducking his head at the big errant drops.

Later that evening in bed, I began my nightly ritual of reviewing my day. I thought about the storm and about how my niece had posted on Facebook that because of it, she and her spouse couldn’t get a plane out of LAX in time to get to her mother-in-law’s funeral in Houston.

I thought about my husband coming over to me on the sofa and putting his arm around me to watch the rain, just like he puts his arm around me when we’re at the movies.

I thought about the people who seemed stranded in the rain who I’d wanted to give rides to, about the guy in the Mercedes, and yes, even about the whole, roasted garlic cloves I’d found at the olive bar in the grocery store.

“What was the highlight of my day?” I asked myself as I ran through a slideshow of moments and scenes in my mind.

I’ve had days in which the thick, white cream swirling in my coffee was the highlight of my day, days in which the voicemail of my granddaughter singing “Happy Birthday” to me was the highlight, and days in which the waitress giving me a hug before I left the Denny’s was the highlight.

When I look back to find the highlight of my day, three things happen:

First, I have to look at each and every thing from the perspective of its brightness, instead of from the perspective of whether it disappointed me or saddened me. This alone allows me to see things differently.

Second, I realize that there are days in which I actually have a hard time narrowing it down to one single thing, and that sometimes there are two or three or even five things that were the highlights of my day.

And finally, what always ends up happening is that the one thing I ultimately choose doesn’t stand out all by itself as a single “highlight” of my day—instead it ends up actually lighting up the whole rest of the day as well.

It’s a practice that comforts me and helps me to see on a continuing basis that whether there are storms or not, there’s still going to be a highlight.

Oh yes.

What was the highlight of this day in San Diego? One simple sentence:

“How about we watch the rain together?”



Author: Carmelene Siani

Image: Rhendi Rukmana at Unsplash

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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