Morning meditation: Will it matter in 10 years?

What is a morning meditation? To help me build a habit of daily writing, I’m publishing a few thoughts here every morning about ideas that interest and inspire me, mostly drawn from ordinary life. I hope you enjoy them.

I guess this is an evening meditation, but better late than never (I’m at a conference in New Orleans, and my schedule is a little crazy).

Today, I’d like to share a helpful exercise that I’ve found extremely useful for navigating tough decisions and difficult times. I call it 10–10–10, though there may be a more elegant name for it somewhere out in Internet-land. It’s extremely simple and surprisingly clarifying. Here’s how to use it.

When you’re facing a difficult decision or a challenging situation, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. How will I feel about this in 10 days?
  2. How will I feel about this in 10 months?
  3. How will I feel about this in 10 years?

10 days — frequently even 10 months — is rarely enough time to evaluate the outcome of a tough decision or to gain perspective on a tumultuous life situation. But 10 years? It’s amazing how our thinking shifts when we’re able to step outside our immediate circumstances and take a longer view.

Life will always be hard. Being human will always be hard. The 10–10–10 exercise is one way to help you navigate the difficult waters of being alive. When I use it, I like to imagine the better, wiser, more actualized version of my 10-years-future self in the room with me, thanking me for taking the steps today that led me down the path to becoming her.

That’s quite a lovely way to think about the difficult times in our lives. Even — especially — the hardest situations are opportunities to help us become more of the person we want to be.

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