Today I want to share an exercise I discovered and quickly fell in love with last month. It is short, taking no more than a minute or two; it provides an avenue to recognize gratitude, joy, and challenges; and as an added bonus, it makes for a great dinner conversation starter with family!
It’s called Rose, Bud, Thorn, and the premise is simple. Rose represents something in your day that brought you joy, a moment that you are grateful for, or something that made you smile. These can be exciting achievements (a job promotion! an engagement announcement!) or small moments of peace (three deep breaths with a hot cup of tea, a phone call from a friend); the important thing is that you recognize some good in the day. The blooming rose is soft, beautiful, and lovely – it is something to be enjoyed now and in the present moment, because it won’t last forever.
The bud of a rose represents something to come. Similarly, “Bud” portion of this exercise includes something we are looking forward to in the next day. What’s happening tomorrow that you anticipate with joy? What is something you can think about with a smile as you go to sleep tonight? This is the rosebud, the anticipation of something lovely still to come.
Finally, we come to the thorn—the part of the plant that is prickly and causes discomfort. Suffering is an inevitable part of life, and inconveniences, frustrations, losses, and setbacks large and small adorn each day. Ignoring these sufferings isn’t the answer, for ignorance and denial limits our ability to understand and grow from our trials. Instead, we can recognize these things for what they are: thorns in our day, and reflect on their impact in our lives. Perhaps your thorn was a frustrating drive to work, stuck behind a slow-moving truck. Or maybe it was more significant, such as the loss of an old friend or a beloved family pet. These things require different amounts of time, energy, and ministrations, and being able to separate the thorns that are important versus the everyday inconveniences is a valuable skill.
Rose, bud, thorn. The current joy, the joy to come, and the not-so-joyful. It’s an exercise that you can do on your own at the end of the day, taking less than a minute. Or it’s something you can share with an important person in your life, talking through it, celebrating together, and helping each other. As I made this a more regular practice, I found myself recognizing the small, beautiful parts of my life and days that I often overlook, while letting go of frustrations more easily, recognizing that in the long run most are fleeting and nothing more than a moment—certainly nothing worth ruining an entire day over. It’s a lovely little practice that I would encourage everyone to try out, even just now and then.
Give it a chance going into this weekend. What thorn really ticked you off today? What is today’s rose? And finally, what are you looking forward to tomorrow?
In joy and gratitude,