I recently came across this exercise and found it to have profound life-changing potential. The task is simple, answer 3 questions:
What have I received today?
What have I given today?
What troubles and difficulties have I caused?
An excerpt from the To Do Institute's website offers some insight into the value of this practice:
Often we take such things for granted. We hurry through our day giving little attention to all the “little” things we are receiving. But are these things really “little?” It only seems so because we are being supported and our attention is elsewhere. But when we run out of gas or lose our glasses, these little things grab our attention and suddenly we realize their true importance. As we list what we receive from another person we are grounded in the simple reality of how we have been supported and cared for. In many cases we may be surprised at the length or importance of such a list and a deeper sense of gratitude and appreciation may be naturally stimulated. Without a conscious shift of attention to the myriad ways in which the world supports us, we risk our attention being trapped by only problems and obstacles, leaving us to linger in suffering and self-pity.
Do you have 20-30 minutes to dedicate to trying something new?
Take 5-10 minutes for each question. Here is an example of what a daily Naikan practice might look like.
If you try this practice and find it helpful, I encourage you to consider incorporating it on a regular basis. If not daily, imagine the impact this could have if it's done even 1-2 a week.