For most of us Martin Luther King Day comes and goes, like so many potentially meaningful days, with no discernible impact on our lives.
This year, instead of just thinking, "Whoo-hoo! I have the day off," or "Hey, there's a sale at the mall," spend some time exploring one simple question. "What could this day mean to me?" You can do this with any special day, but since today is MLK Day, that's a good place to start.
Here are four steps to help you use today (or any meaningful day) as a catalyst for personal exploration and growth.1. Explore what it means to you.
This exercise isn't about pondering what effect King had on the country, or why he deserves to be honored. It's about stepping back and taking a look at the messages the day has for you, and how that applies to your life. You'll be taking it out of the abstract and finding specific and personal meaning.
You might start exploring it from different angles. For example:
- What are the messages this day has for me?
- What about this day feels important?
- What do I admire about King?
- If I had three words to describe the essence of this holiday, what would they be?
As the resulting insights start to take shape, take it out of the abstract and into your life with step number two...
2. How does this relate to my life?
Let's say one of the things you admire most about King was both his vision. To apply that to your own life, you might ask, "OK, what is my vision? What am I working towards in my life that feels important and compelling? What do I really care about?"
This step is simply about taking stock, not judging what you find. Maybe you look at your life and realize, "Wow, I really don't have any vision that feels compelling to me." Rather than looking at that insight negatively, simply look at it as a potential doorway to change.
3. What action does this suggest?
Once you have insights about how it relates to you life, it's time to start moving towards using them for positive change. Let's say you realize that you're not satisfied with that lack of vision. If that's the case, you have a choice; either lose yourself in being dissatisfied, or use that clarity as the starting point for asking, "OK, what do I do about that?"
You might realize that you don't have clarity about what that vision might be. It's impossible to move towards a vision if you don't know what it is, so exploring that potential vision would be your first step. You might explore questions like, "What would I want my epitaph to say about me and the impact I had in this world? What inspires me? If I could make a difference with one thing in this world - based not on what "they" think is important, but on what has a significant positive charge for me - what would it be?"
Or you might realize that you have a vision already simmering, but you aren't taking any action on it. Your action exploration then might focus on brainstorming different steps you could take, large and small, to start moving towards it.
4. What is the first step, and when will I take it?
Finally, remember that none of the above two steps are anything more than abstract philosophizing if you don't actually choose a step and take it.
So there you have it. Four steps to turn any meaningful day into a catalyst for growth and discovery.
What could this day mean for you?
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